Setting Boundaries With an Alcoholic: A Step-by-Step Guide
The Importance of Setting Boundaries With an Alcoholic
If your friend or loved one suffers from alcohol addiction, you want them to get help and be well. Unfortunately, their sobriety is entirely up to them, no matter how badly you can see that they need help. At the same time, you need to be healthy whether or not you’ve decided to choose alcohol addiction recovery.
Alcoholism can take over your life, even if you’re not the one actively drinking. Setting boundaries for yourself not only helps the addict themselves but also prevents addiction from ruining your life. If you’re constantly allowing the alcoholic to interfere in your life, or you do what they want to “keep the peace,” they have no incentive to get better. And your own mental health gets worse too.
At first, it may feel hard to set boundaries and maintain them, but limits are something that healthy people have in their lives. Only when you draw bright, clear lines and then hold onto them is recovery possible for the alcoholic. Not having boundaries actively supports their drinking.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at (877) 640-7820 to learn how we can help.
Examples of Healthy Boundaries
It’s probably been a while since you focused on yourself and your own mental and physical health. You may never have had these types of boundaries in your life, or you may have had them before your loved one developed an alcohol use disorder. Setting boundaries with an alcoholic is an essential step for you both, and here are some excellent examples:
- You won’t spend time with them while they’re drinking
- You won’t lie for them to cover up their drinking
- You won’t give them money
- You won’t bail them out if they’re arrested or pay their legal expenses
- You won’t let them live in your house or drive your car when they’re drinking
Seem extreme? Remember that giving alcohol money and housing only contributes to their drinking, not their sobriety.
The Challenges of Setting Boundaries and Holding Them
Setting boundaries with an alcoholic isn’t always easy. You’ll be saying “no” to things you’ve previously said “yes” to, and you can’t expect an addict to be happy that you’re no longer helping them with their addiction. But you can be pleased that you’re supporting their sobriety instead.
If an alcoholic doesn’t stop drinking, the consequences can be dire. Some studies show that alcoholics die younger, with life expectancies over 20 years shorter than those who don’t drink.
Healthy boundaries can speed up recovery for those with alcohol addictions. Ultimately you’ll have them in your life for a more extended period if they get sober. Even if you end up not seeing them for a short while because they continue to drink until they realize their drinking support system is no longer propping them up.
Along with alcohol, learn about other common household drugs in our blog below:
How to Get Help
Alcoholism is a treatable disease. But the alcoholic in your life has to want to get sober before they can recover successfully. Your healthy boundaries are an excellent first step; after that, they may need treatment. If your life has been entwined with theirs for a long time, you may also need treatment to ensure that you stay healthy no matter what.
The alcoholic may need rehab of some kind, either outpatient or inpatient, and the addiction recovery center will help them make that assessment. The same recovery center may have counseling options for you, or you can choose another treatment facility for yourself. Typically the addict’s loved ones require some outpatient therapy or counseling to unlearn unhealthy habits.
No matter where your loved one is in their drinking, it’s vital that you get help as soon as possible so you can live a healthy and fulfilling life without the consequences of their drinking. When you’re healthy, it is possible to get and stay sober. Please contact us today to learn the importance of setting boundaries with an alcoholic and to discuss treatment options for alcoholism.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.