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How to set boundaries with a person?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Loved One' started by Jasmine2015, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. Jasmine2015

    Jasmine2015 Community Champion

    How do you set boundaries with a person that doesn't want to get help for their addictions? If the person decided not to care about getting treatment or at least getting some type of help right away, how do you handle the person until then? Do you block them out of your life? Do you socialize from a distance?
  2. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    I wouldn't recommend cutting an addict out of your life completely.

    What works better IMHO is an ultimatum. This way the choice isn't yours to make. Tell the addict that unless they change or are willing to change/fight their addictions then you'll have nothing to do with them. This gives them an incentive to do something. Cutting them out of your life completely however would, I believe, make the problem worse. When those closest to an addict desert them why would they want to change?
  3. deanokat

    deanokat Community Organizer Community Listener

    There's nothing wrong with setting boundaries/rules, and issuing an ultimatum if it gets to that point. After years of addiction, my son had pushed my wife and I to our limits. He was living with us and we finally told him, "Go to rehab or move out of our house." He chose to move out of our house...for two days. He then returned and agreed to go to treatment.

    @Rainman is right. Cutting an addict you love out of your life completely is not the way to go. But you can certainly let go with love and distance yourself from the person. Sometimes that can even help motivate the person to change. When you let go with love, be sure the addict knows that you are there for them and will support them if they choose to try and change their ways.

    One caveat with regards to boundaries and ultimatums: Never tell the addict something that you're not 100 percent absolutely ready to carry through with. There's nothing worse than setting a boundary or issuing an ultimatum and then not following through. Trust me. I've been there and done that.

    Also, you have to be prepared for consequences that may result from an ultimatum. Before we told our son to get help or move out, his therapist told us that doing so could lead to tragic results. But my wife and I were ready to accept that fact. Things were that bad.

    I hope at least some of this makes sense.
    bubblycake and Rainman like this.
  4. singingintherain

    singingintherain Community Champion

    There's a toss up for which decision you make. Ultimately it needs to be a personal decision for yourself. You can't control others actions, only your own.

    If you still want to help but find it impossible to be involved in their life with things the way they are now, you could consider explaining to them that you are open to contact with them when they are ready to seek help. Sometimes that can be the push some people need. Many times it will be a while before they get to this point though. For some people they will never reach that point.
    Jasmine2015 and deanokat like this.
  5. Nomore141

    Nomore141 Member

    I think, first of all you need to define the importance of that person clearly within your personal sphere. It's best not to give him/her false hope if you already know you will not venture beyond a certain threshold. Sit down and have a serious talk, let him/her know exactly how you feel and what actually bothers you about the his/her addiction.
    You should try and avoid being vague because it'll make the whole conversation feel superficial. If you're 100% honest during the conversation, at the end it, you'll know exactly where you stand. You'll know the best course of action.
    Jasmine2015 and deanokat like this.
  6. mickella18

    mickella18 Active Contributor

    Sometimes being harsh is the best remedy. It may sound a bit rough but if you blocked out the person to a considerable extent, it will say something. That thing called tough love, it actually works.
  7. Jasmine2015

    Jasmine2015 Community Champion

    And how many people even understand the concept of tough love? Especially when you are taking mind alternating substances. Though I believe that being wishy-washy is a horrible way to go about things.
  8. light

    light Active Contributor

    Do you really feel that you need to set boundaries with that addict in order to stimulate that person’s recovery? If you just can handle that situation anymore, make the other person chose: your love which will help him go through recovery or his present miserable life. It’s very important the way we say something, and should be done not in a threatening voice or shouting but a very calm and decisive voice. Even though it might be very difficult if that person makes you feel depressed than it’s better to stay away from him for some time. You are responsible for your happiness and your health first and foremost!
    Jasmine2015 likes this.
  9. Tremmie

    Tremmie Community Champion

    I think it depends on the relationship you have with that person and the kind of addiction we are talking about. I think with things like coke or heroin is truly hard to step aside... But if the person doesn't want to change and you start doing more harm than good (enabling) then that is when it's time to accept things might not change and just let go. Isn't easy, but sometimes you just have to let go. After all we also have to take care of ourselves.
    Jasmine2015 likes this.
  10. misskrystal1982

    misskrystal1982 Active Contributor

    I think setting boundaries are great, and if they can't respect those boundaries then you cut them out. I would let them know you don't want to be around them when they are using or on whatever substance. If they care enough, they should respect this. If they can not, then they are making the choice to not be around and with you.

    Its tough but its worse to let someone treat you as though you are less of a person.