As the parent of an individual with a substance abuse problem, you already know that addiction can cause your child to lie, cheat or steal — whatever it takes to get the next high. Reestablishing trust after months or even years of bad behavior is tremendously challenging. After all, you want to believe the best, but you can’t help but suspect the worst. The good news is that you can protect yourself and give your child the support he or she needs by setting appropriate boundaries.
Setting Boundaries with the Addict in Your Life
Just because you’re “setting boundaries” doesn’t mean you have to forego being helpful, compassionate or caring. It does mean you will protect your emotional health and freedom by enforcing consequences when and if bad behavior occurs.
Chances are you’ve already told your loved one that you cannot tolerate actions such as driving under the influence, stealing, or lying. Simply expressing your anger isn’t enough — successfully setting boundaries with addicts means you must establish and enforce consequences.
The first step toward setting boundaries with a recovering child is to establish clear rules, in writing, for you both to follow. Leave no room for interpretation and identify fair consequences, also in writing, that you will enforce if a boundary is crossed.
You may find enforcing the consequence is more difficult that identifying the boundary, but for the rules to be effective, enforcement is a necessity. The good news is that boundaries are beneficial for you and your struggling child because you can protect yourself without building resentment — while giving your child the space he or she needs to make independent decisions.
Setting boundaries with friends and coworkers is one thing. Setting boundaries with an addicted child is something else. If you are dealing with a child who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, family therapy can help you make healthier choices and live an independent lifestyle.
Remember, addiction affects everyone in the family — not only your addicted child. You are entitled to a life that is free from painful emotions, disrespectful behavior, empty threats, and broken promises. In short, you are entitled to a full recovery.
Family therapy can help you, your spouse, and others affected by addiction express pent-up emotions and heal hurt feelings. It can also teach you and your child how to communicate more effectively and learn to trust one another again. If your child relapses, your therapist can also encourage you to stick with the consequences you developed. Remember, one of the best things you can do for your recovering child is to take care of yourself.
For more information about setting boundaries and addiction recovery, contact Clarity Way today.