Setting Boundaries with your Child in Recovery

Setting Boundaries with your child in recovery

Boundaries are a key part of life, but they are essential for those in recovery from substance addiction or abuse.  Setting Boundaries with your child is a Healthy Way of Helping Your Child With Addiction Recovery.

Boundaries need to be firm and stable but having them too rigid or too relaxed can both be damaging especially in the formative years of a child’s life.  Boundaries that are too strict can lead to emotional repression, whereas lax boundaries cause issues with developing a sense of self and personal responsibility.

It is always worth remembering that boundaries work both ways:  You must set your own but you must also respect those set by others, including your child.  This forms the basis of a healthy relationship which makes all the difference in the treatment of addictions.

Setting Boundaries With a Teen

Setting boundaries in place is one of the ways you can help when a teen becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.  By setting out boundaries, establishing what the consequences are for violating these and maintaining them consistently will help your teen move towards the realization that they need some help.

It is tempting to try to cushion your child but this prevents them from experiencing the full consequences of their actions.  Often parents will ensure the addicted teen’s needs are met to the detriment of the other family members which can cause a strain on familial relationships.  It is not useful to enable the addictive behavior, in fact, it makes them less likely to seek help.

Boundaries will remove that stress, encourage other family members to engage in their own interests and the teen will be allowed to see how much danger they are in as a result of their addiction.

Addiction Recovery for Teens Requires Healthy Boundaries

To set healthy boundaries you need to understand that suits you may not work for others.  We are all unique so you will need to give a lot of thought to what will work for you.  To help with this here are some things you need to remember:

  • Boundaries should reflect your right to personal feelings, values and beliefs.
  • Identify your real, underlying emotions. An understanding of this will make communication more honest, direct and meaningful.
  • Think about how you want to be treated, express these and set limits.
  • If you find your boundaries are not respected it is OK to express this and to say no.
  • If you are unsure if someone is pushing your boundaries always follow your gut and respond accordingly.
  • When your boundaries are tested be prepared to defend them and know that it is fine to do so.

What are Unhealthy Boundaries?

Unhealthy boundaries are weak boundaries and these are counterproductive for teen addiction recovery.  If you have set an unhealthy boundary it will mean you start to act against your own interests.  It can leave you open to manipulation or abuse.  Some examples of unhealthy boundaries include:

  • Always pleasing others at the expense of your own personal beliefs, values and plans.
  • Allowing others to define your boundaries.
  • Making choices and decisions for others.
  • Not being able to say no, or feeling guilty if you do.
  • Feeling manipulated, used, threatened or mistreated.
  • Unable or hesitant to assert yourself or express your own opinion.
  • Feeling pressurized to act in certain ways.
  • Taking on other peoples responsibilities.
  • Telling others what to do, how to behave, or what they should feel.

Boundaries and Consequences

With every boundary, there must is a consequence if that boundary is ignored you must be willing and able to enforce it.  One common boundary is staying away from peers or places that risk sobriety.  Your teen’s boundaries are not under your control.  However, if they decide to take that risk their consequence is that they have to deal with the results.

Boundaries to help Reconciliation

Substance and alcohol addiction is always accompanied by behaviors that threaten relationships and once someone has gone into recovery it can be one of the most difficult things to put right.  Making sure that healthy boundaries are in place mean that those close to the situation are protected and the individuals all learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Boundaries to Remove Negative Influences

As the family and friends set their boundaries, the person in recovery needs to do the same.  This is a key way of removing negative influences that threaten their sobriety.  Learning how to say no, especially to old friends, how to end relationships and so on is part of the process of recovery.

To ensure that boundaries are enforced enjoying some self-care activities like taking exercising, eating well, getting support and making new relationships with sober peers gives a much-needed boost to self-esteem and increases determination to maintain boundaries when they are pushed.

When Boundary Setting Fails

Setting boundaries is vital at this stage of your teen’s life and critical to their recovery from addiction.  Setting boundaries with your child in recovery will build confidence and help strengthen positive relationships with family and peers that are an essential support for maintaining sobriety.

If you feel that your boundaries are not respected and the consequences have little or no little effect it is time to consult a professional about treatment.

At The Last House, we provide age-specific treatment programs for teens which have been proven to work more effectively than all-age programs.  Give our professional counselors a call or fill in our contact form to find out how we can help you and your child start on the road to sobriety.