Interpersonal boundaries reduce stress, reduce conflict, and help to keep you safe. The purpose of having interpersonal boundaries is to protect and take care of you. You need to be able to tell other people when they act in ways that are not acceptable to you. You need to be self-centered in the sense of self-care centered. The addiction lifestyle encourages a blurring and erosion of interpersonal boundaries. Intoxicated people have sex, share confidential information, experience violence, and allow people into their lives that they would never have considered before the addiction. The addiction lifestyle erodes the individual’s ability to set clear boundaries for themselves and for others.
To keep a safe support network, you will need to set up interpersonal boundaries to keep yourself safe, and to reduce the risk of relapse. It is your responsibility to communicate clearly to others when they respect or ignore your choice to stop using drugs and alcohol. Learning to set boundaries is essential to keeping yourself safe and free from drug and alcohol use.
Becoming focused on caring for yourself will support you to uphold your new values and goals. Setting boundaries will help you stay healthy in all areas of your life. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries or with someone who cannot communicate directly and honestly. If you have family or friends who are still using drugs and alcohol or who are earning a living through some aspect of the drug economy, you will need to decide how to set boundaries to keep yourself safe. Turn now to the end of this chapter and quickly review the “Self Care Recovery Boundaries Worksheet.”
To keep an alcohol and drug-free home, you must be able to control who enters your home and how they behave in your home. You will need to set boundaries with others on how you will or will not share information about your past addiction and on the extent you will allow others to comment on your choice to remain drug and alcohol free. You will need to set boundaries on how often you will allow others to bring up negative things you may or may not have done. Does this sound difficult? In the beginning it will be.