Setting boundaries with loved ones is a vital part of recovery. Doing this can be a lot easier said than done, though. It can be a very anxiety-filled discussion when talking to family members about substance use disorder (SUD, treatment, and potential trauma events surrounding one’s recovery.
While everyone would like to think that all family members would be accepting and understanding when it comes to addiction recovery and the effects of trauma, that is not always the case. These situations can bring on a lot of stress or overwhelming feelings.
It can be difficult when your family can’t respect your decisions, but to make sure you achieve long-term success in recovery, you may need to make hard decisions. Your mental and physical health is critical. You need to take steps to ensure that your family’s emotional reactions are helpful to you and that they know how to give the support you need.
Have Open Communication With Your Family
The first step in talking to your family members about your boundaries and potential triggers is establishing open communication. Involving your family in treatment can be beneficial for both parties. When family members are actively involved with your treatment and recovery, it can help give them a better understanding.
At Healing Pines Recovery, we offer family therapy sessions that allow you to communicate openly with the guidance of a professional. This will make you feel comfortable discussing difficult topics with your family and helps your family understand their potentially harmful behaviors or expectations. Family therapy can also help to deepen the ties between you and your loved ones.
Once an open line of communication is established, you can talk to your family about your boundaries and triggers. This allows them to know your healthiest options and what you need to avoid.
Set Boundaries and Discuss Triggers
While boundaries and triggers may be similar, they still have differences. A boundary is something that you will not do, take part in, or allow to happen. In contrast, a trigger is an event, situation, or action that causes intense feelings of anxiety, unease, or panic. This can happen for a myriad of reasons, but foremost among them is that you become reminded of a past, traumatic experience.
While in treatment or when you return home, the first things you should communicate with your family members are your boundaries. A boundary is defined as a limit you will not cross. It’s important to discuss this with your family so you can build healthy relationships with them. Some boundaries can include things like:
- Respecting your choice to seek treatment or continue treatment once home
- Keeping your environment safe
- Respecting your triggers and not openly exposing you to them
You should also communicate your trauma triggers and how to avoid them. Triggers can be anything that would cause you feelings of unease or makes you feel unsafe. Some examples of triggers can include:
- Seeing others engage in substance use
- Having drugs or alcohol in the house if you share a home
- Going to locations that remind you of negative experiences
- Talking about substance use
Everyone will have different triggers and boundaries that they need to communicate, so knowing yours will help your family respect yours. Your triggers and boundaries should be specific to you, so make sure to go into detail about how or why they affect you.
What to Do if Your Family Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries or Triggers
After communicating these to your family, what do you do if your family chooses not to respect all of them? One thing to remember is that their choice is theirs alone, and you can’t control that. This also means that they cannot control your choices. Another important thing to remember is to not compromise on the healthiest choice for you and your recovery.
Something to keep in mind during this process is that some people are set in their beliefs. Many still believe in the stigma that addiction is not a disease but rather a moral failing. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest fallacies that can hurt those in recovery.
Although you cannot change your family member’s choice not to respect your boundaries or triggers, you have a few choices. If limiting contact with family members that can’t respect your healing is a healthy decision, do it. However, if this relationship is healthy and they simply need help understanding where you are coming from, you can help them better understand your needs. Why do these things affect you, and why do you need to avoid them? Unfortunately, there are still many stigmas surrounding addiction recovery, like those who think you can just “get over it.”
Deciding what the healthiest options are for you is the most important thing. You need to have the right tools to handle these situations and have difficult conversations. At Healing Pines Recovery, we are here to teach you those skills and provide you with guidance. Communicating with a mental health professional about your substance abuse experiences can help you get a grasp on your potential triggers and understand better how to combat them.
Always remember that you have the right to cut unhealthy relationships from your life and that your success in recovery should come first.
While working through recovery and returning home from treatment, it is important to discuss your boundaries and triggers with your family. To continue living a healthy life free of substance use, you need to surround yourself with healthy relationships in a healthy environment. Having open communication with your family can help with this.
At Healing Pines Recovery, we teach you the skills needed to identify your triggers and communicate them. If these are things your loved ones can’t accept, remember that you shouldn’t compromise your physical or mental health. Our CBT and DBT services can help you recover from either substance abuse or childhood trauma.
If you are seeking treatment for substance use and building a healthy environment for yourself, and identify as male, reach out to Healing Pines Recovery today at (720) 575-2621.