Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones is a challenging yet rewarding task. Learning to stop enabling addiction behaviors is essential to providing a healthy and productive support system. However, changing to establish positive and healthy boundaries with a loved one who suffers from addiction can be a complex process. Individual, group, and family therapies are forms of love and caring your addicted loved one needs to see you participate in. 

Addiction is a disease; some symptoms are lying, stealing, cheating, and destroying trust in relationships. However, learning and accepting that addiction is an illness and affects the mind and body can alter the stigma and perceptions surrounding addiction. Unfortunately, without the proper education and therapy, setting boundaries with addicted loved ones was impossible or even known about. 

Behaviors of Addiction

The addiction behaviors are problematic, challenging, and frustrating for the loved ones surrounding the addict. Addiction controls brain chemistry and distorts cognitive abilities. This distorted thinking affects relationships negatively and causes dysfunction in every lifestyle aspect. Those wrought in addiction can only focus on obtaining their drug of choice, and other people surrounding them are of no consequence. Unfortunately, loved ones unaware of setting boundaries with addicted loved ones contribute to the addiction by loaning money, ignoring negative behaviors, and making excuses. 

As the dysfunctional behaviors continue in addiction, relationships become destroyed. However, if the support system surrounding the addict learns about setting boundaries with addicted loved ones, the cycle can change. When loved ones stop enabling their addicted loved ones to continue using, something changes in their relationships. Setting boundaries makes addiction more challenging to maintain.

What Are Boundaries?—and Why They Are Essential

Boundaries are the control you can initiate to distance yourself from the addiction. Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones is not punishing them or being mean. Instead, boundaries will set the rules for the relationships between addicted loved ones and their family and friends. This stance shows the addict that their behavior and addiction are unacceptable, and they will not participate in it continuing to happen. 

Setting healthy boundaries can offer peace of mind and give hope for the future. Boundaries are a new set of rules and standards in a relationship with someone addicted. Unfortunately, these boundaries cause anyone with addiction issues to be uncomfortable with their addiction. As a result, they have now presented a reason to stop using. Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones tells them you are separating yourself from their habit. 

Boundaries are psychological fences between two or more people that encourage positive and healthy behaviors. There must be a sense of accountability and responsibility for addictive behaviors and the negative consequences of addiction. Furthermore, many people are unaware that their behaviors may have allowed addiction to flourish. Thus, setting boundaries with addicted loved ones puts the brakes on those enabling behaviors.

“Loving Your Child To Death?”

No one talks about enabling behaviors until the addiction is recognized and out of control. Then, parents and friends believe they are helping their loved ones by offering them shelter, money, or another chance in their relationship. It is difficult to deny them when your adult child promises they won’t buy drugs with the money you give them. You don’t want to believe it’s true. But many families find their loved ones in the hospital after an overdose after using that same grocery money their family gave them on drugs. 

With the help of therapy, it is easier to understand how the weeks and months before you contributed to your loved one’s addiction in so many aspects of life. It was unintentional. But, it’s proven that enablers are sometimes the main contributors to the addiction problem. Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones may keep you from loving your child to death. 

Choosing to Set Boundaries With Your Addicted Loved One

Once you have learned this essential information about healthy relationships and setting boundaries with addicted loved ones, you must take action. First, the family and friends providing support must come together, perhaps with the assistance of a professional, and set the rules and consequences of their relationships with addiction moving forward. An emotionally charged conversation will inevitably follow with the addicted loved one. After the rules are set, the family must inform the addict of the new guidelines. 

Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones will force them to admit to their addiction. Without the help of everyone enabling them to stay addicted, they have no choice but to seek help. Therefore, everyone must agree to stand firm in the new rules and consequences as the addict is informed of what to expect. It is a compelling message for loved ones to give, but it is essential to stop the addiction. 

The complicated and challenging conversation between the family and their addicted loved one could include any of the following aspects:

  • Offer the conversation when the addicted loved one is not using or under the influence.
  • The entire family and friend support system must be present and show a strong front.
  • Begin the talk with you want to support and help the addict out of love and care. 
  • Explain that you want to help break their addiction, but they need to participate in the choice.
  • Explain the new boundaries and consequences if they do not accept or break the rules. 
  • End the conversation with another request to seek help for addiction. 

Examples of Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries with addicted loved ones is a different situation for each family. It is not a one size fits all resolution. Learning about boundaries and ending enabling behaviors is paramount to this goal. You may include the following examples of healthy boundaries in your conversations with your addicted loved one: 

  • The addict can bring no drugs or alcohol into the family or friends’ homes. No substances are allowed. They will be asked to leave if they bring them into the home. 
  • “If you are arrested for addiction, I will not bail you out of jail or get you a lawyer. Instead, you will go to jail.”
  • “You may not bring friends to our homes that use drugs and alcohol.” 
  • “Being mean, nasty, extending insults, or ridiculing family or friends is not acceptable.”
  • “If you are living under our roof, you will respect the curfews.”
  • “I will not give you money anymore. I will not lie to you anymore. I will not make excuses for you anymore.” 

Find Help in Setting Boundaries With Your Addicted Loved One in Tennessee

If you are learning how to end enabling behaviors with your addicted loved one and want to understand how to set boundaries, Detox West can help with your process. Our experienced professionals understand how painful it can be to confront your addicted loved one with a new set of rules. You may feel like your heart is breaking, but this change could end your loved one’s addiction and save their life. Contact our center for more information on how to move forward to help your loved one.