How To Set Boundaries With A Loved One Suffering From Addiction

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Updated on September 22nd, 2018

Do you have a loved one who suffers from addiction? If so, you know all too well how addiction can change someone’s personality. And you probably have even recognized a need for boundaries.

How addiction changes a person

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When someone suffers from addiction, they are no longer in control. Someone who was previously reliable will inevitably start canceling plans. A person who was known for his honesty will start lying about everything under the sun.

It’s not that people want to change for the worse. It’s that addiction is ruling their lives.

Addiction is a disease that changes brain chemistry. The person who is addicted becomes hard-wired to seek drugs. The need the next fix in order to feel okay.

For them, getting drugs becomes a matter of survival. So, they’ll easily lie or manipulate to get another fix.

How to deal with personality changes

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It’s extremely difficult not to take these personality changes personally. Imagine finding out that the person you loved and trusted more than anyone stole money from you. Separating your personal feelings from the event is difficult. But if you really care about this person, you must try.

The actions of an addict are somewhat beyond their control. This doesn’t mean they have no responsibility, but they do have a disease that’s driving their bad behavior.

Try to understand that this person is sick so that you don’t take their behavior to heart. But at the same time, you’ll want to protect yourself by setting boundaries.

How to set boundaries

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Whenever you want to set boundaries with anyone, a conversation is a good place to start. Talk about how you need some distance while they’re struggling, but let them know that you’re still in their corner. Whenever they’re ready, you’ll be there to help them get to an addiction treatment center.

Here are a few tips for setting boundaries with an addicted loved one:

  1. Avoid enabling – When you love someone, it’s hard to say no. But before you say yes to any requests, ask yourself whether you’d be helping them get or use drugs.
  2. Set house rules – If your addicted loved one lives with you, set some house rules. No alcohol or drugs in the house is a good start. You may also want to ban any drug abusing friends. Your home should not be a safe place to abuse drugs.
  3. Set expectations – If someone is abusing drugs or alcohol, there’s a good chance they’ll have a run in with the law (if they haven’t already). Set the expectations for what you’ll do in this case. For example, “I’m not bailing you out” is a good rule.
  4. Stick to your guns – Your addicted loved one will test you. It’s important to stand your ground, no matter how hard it is. If you said you’d refuse to help with money for bills, let their electricity get shut off. Paying their bills is a form of enabling. If they don’t have to pay the bill, they can use that money for drugs or alcohol.

It’s difficult to watch someone you love suffer, but it’s important to set boundaries to keep yourself safe. These boundaries may also make it difficult for your loved one to use, which could give them the push they need to get help.