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Individuals who are in active addiction are often unstable and unpredictable. These individuals may lie, steal, cheat, or even steal to keep the disease alive. As this happens boundaries become distorted and families as well as friendships can quickly deteriorate. Family members and friends may think they are being helpful by enabling, rescuing, or even trying to control the addict. This may start with good intentions, but it often hurts all involved over time.
As you enter recovery it is important to realize that these behaviors must be kept in check through the use of healthy boundaries. This means boundaries must be set and respected by all parties. Knowing what those boundaries need to be may be difficult at first but once you have decided what your healthy boundaries are there are some simple ways to keep those boundaries firm.
Some of the basic techniques that will be described are as follows: saying no, if it is good for you it is good for everyone, immediate answers require a no, and no one can make you feel inferior. Each of these will be described in greater detail below.
Saying no is a perfectly valid response to someone. In fact, ‘No’ is a complete sentence. If there is an activity that you do not wish to be involved in simply say no. You do not need to explain your decisions to anyone. In fact, offering an explanation or an excuse offers someone a chance to try to persuade you. There is no law stating that you cannot say no to someone or something. Do not bother to make up an excise, if your mind is made up simply say no and move on with the conversation or whatever you are doing.
If it is good for you then it is good for everyone. While this is not true of every activity, making good, healthy, positive decisions for yourself will ultimately affect those around you. Consider that when in active addiction your decisions likely hurt yourself and others. By making healthy decisions you will likely benefit others as well. Choosing recovery over addiction is the first step. Entering into recovery offers the opportunity to build trust and regain a normal life without drugs or alcohol.
If you need the answer now, the answer is no. This ties into no being a complete sentence and thought. If someone is pushing you for an immediate answer than the answer should be no. If something does not seem like a good idea than it needing an immediate answer will not make it a better decision. For example, someone is rushing out the door to a party that they say will be fun. You know you tend to get into trouble at large parties, but the person says it will be fun and they need to know right now if you want to go. Your answer should be no. This is a boundary you have set ahead of time and should stick with. Simply answer with no or ask for more time to decide. If the decision cannot wait it is probably not something you should take part in while in recovery.
Finally, and most importantly, no one can make you feel important without your permission. You are in control of your emotions and reaction, even if it does not always feel this way. If someone is trying to make you feel inferior than you have the choice to not let those feelings exist. Remove this person from your life at that moment to regain control.
Healthy boundaries are beyond necessary in life, but even more so in recovery. What boundaries have you set? Are people respectful of those boundaries? Are you respectful of the boundaries others have set for you in their lives? Answer these questions honestly for yourself and make changes where necessary.
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