Creating Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Early recovery can be a very exciting and scary time for many. It is also a very difficult time for family members who struggle with trust, fear, building relationships, and self-care. I believe it is important to understand healthy boundaries and be able to communicate these with family members and other important people in your lives.

Healthy boundaries are teaching others how we want to be treated. They are not about changing someone else; rather it is about practicing strong self-care. It is critical to first create a sense of these boundaries and discuss them with someone who understands you and early recovery. Perhaps sitting down with a sponsor, therapist, or trusted friend who can be relatively objective and supportive without enabling old behaviors is a good place to start.

What do these boundaries look like? They are about other peoples’ behaviors that interfere with positive recovery and self-esteem. The behaviors may not be intentionally hurtful on the other person’s part but may in fact interfere in the healthy process of recovery. Sharing your thoughts with your loved ones in a respectful and non-judgmental way can go far in reestablishing trust. An example might be, “When you try to be the recovery police by asking me lots of questions and directing me to work my program, I feel angry, sad, and lonely.” You might include a statement that says, “I would prefer that you tell me how you are feeling about what you see me doing rather than tell me what to do.” This looks at the behavior and not the person.

Another reason to be clear with boundaries is so that there is no unhealthy enabling going on. It is critical to help family and friends understand how they can support recovery rather than enable the old behavior or thinking. Without blame, share your thoughts with the important people in your life so that you can all have much healthier relations and create your “family recovery.” Encourage family members to seek their own support through Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Families Anonymous as well as individual and family therapy.

We welcome families to try the weekend-long Family Wellness Workshop that will help you understand how to work together to return your family to a healthy balance and keep moving in the right direction!

For more information about the next workshop, please visit Family Wellness Workshop.

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