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Establishing Healthy Boundaries for Recovery: May Meeting Recap

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

The following are highlights from the May 11th Washtenaw FAN meeting on boundary setting for a successful recovery, featuring, Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC, Founder & President of Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers and Ellen Sork, LLMSW, Facilitator of Early Recovery & Relapse Prevention Groups Sanford Outpatient Center.

Addiction is a Family Disease: Families Need to set boundaries for a successful outcome. The following are helpful tips on how:

In early recovery, this disease likes to “negotiate” the boundaries, so set firm, life-enhancing boundaries that can be enforced. We recommend that the household establishes a contract with the individual before they leave treatment – write them out and print them and post them.

Setting boundaries is easy, reinforcing them is hard. Reinforcement can make people feel guilty or angry. One must be willing to step into the feeling of guilt to enforce boundaries, because you love them so much.

Be aware of a common trap where one parent follows boundaries, the contract, and the other parent wants to be the “good one”. This is a dangerous situation for someone in early recovery, as they can triangulate the relationships. This is something that is experienced on all levels. Partners need to be on the same page, and check with one another.

When the individual is not adhering to or pushing boundaries, understand that they are very sick, the less boundaries, the sicker they are. Don’t deny the person their pain, let them feel their own consequences. Be firm.

When someone comes home from recovery know that the roles of the household may have shifted, and that people have changed. Try to understand that someone coming home from treatment looks better, but they’re still healing. Because loved ones aren’t there to see the work they’re doing (they’re not at the meetings, they don’t know the hard work and process the person in recovery is doing), they often need extra reassurance from the person in recovery. Let the person in recovery show they are doing the things they agreed to do in their recovery plan.


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