What it Means to Set Boundaries in Recovery

What it Means to Set Boundaries in Recovery

Boundaries are personal limitations an individual can determine to keep relationships healthy on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. Without identifying personal boundaries, individuals recovering from addiction may come into situations in which they do not know how to respond in a healthy way. Setting boundaries in recovery also allow other individuals to understand a recovering individual’s personal limitations so that expectations can be met. Often times, individuals who seek help with drug addiction have had pasts where boundaries were never set or completely disregarded. Learning and implementing healthy relationship techniques like setting boundaries in recovery gives recovering individuals the means to establish and maintain healthy relationships while also caring for self-needs throughout treatment and beyond.

The Addict and Boundaries

Individuals form addictions for many reasons, and no addiction or individual in recovery is the same. But, often times, individuals in recovery who need to establish new boundaries have been affected by a past of either too harsh of boundaries or none at all. Those who have had parents, role models, or partners who set boundaries to harshly may have difficulty saying no to others. This makes them vulnerable to manipulation which puts sobriety at risk. Additionally, strict boundaries may play a part in why some individuals in recovery may have trouble expressing their emotions. Doing so is a vital part of healing and moving on from addiction so that healthy lifestyle habits can be put into place and an individual can attempt a life at sobriety. Contrastingly, those with a past of loosely set boundaries may experience relationships with no balance. Boundaries are vital for the health of any relationship, and those in recovery need to learn how to balance relationships so that healthy social roles can be established once treatment concludes.

The Family and Boundaries

Not only is it important for the individual in treatment to set boundaries in recovery, but it is also important for the family of the individual to learn about setting healthy boundaries. Without established boundaries, enabling can be a dangerous side effect. Individuals in recovery, because of their pasts with relationships with a lack or too strict of boundaries, can be manipulating or deceiving to get what they want. Families can show their support for recovery by joining the effort and learning how to address these behaviors by sticking to their own personal boundaries. This prevents enabling and reduces the risk of a relapse.

Examples of Unhealthy Boundaries in Recovery


  • Ignoring personal values or beliefs based on another’s point of view
  • Telling others how to feel or what to believe
  • Telling others what to do
  • Allowing other to tell you what to do
  • Neglecting to take responsibility for what you believe
  • Taking the responsibility for another’s thoughts, beliefs, or actions

Examples of Important Boundaries in Recovery

Establish Boundaries Important to you: Before you can effectively set boundaries, you will have to determine what they should be. What are the beliefs that you hold true? What are your personal values? Once you determine what is important to you when it comes to your own boundaries, you can more effectively determine when you should speak up when communicating with others.

When to Say No: Without assertion while communicating, how will others know what your personal boundaries are? Understanding when to speak up when someone crosses a personal boundary will allow you to maintain and manage healthier relationships with others.

Practice Respecting Others’ Boundaries: While your personal boundaries are important, they become useless if you cannot respect the boundaries of another. You are not the only individuals with thoughts, values, emotions, and beliefs. Although another individual’s boundaries may differ than yours, they are just as imperative.

Ready to work on setting your own personal boundaries, respecting yourself and others, and recover from an addiction? The Lily Pad of St. Augustine can guide you throughout your recovery journey so that you have the support and resources you need to establish and maintain healthy relationship boundaries! Give us a call today to speak with an addiction specialist at 561-758-1011.







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