Discipline is important for anyone trying to get their life back on track after addiction. Having clear expectations of your relationships, asserting your needs and desires, and drawing firm lines when needed are all elements of having “strong boundaries” in recovery.
But boundaries don’t just suddenly appear when you leave a treatment program — you have to work to establish and enforce them.
What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries can be physical or mental. A physical boundary is an area you cannot or will not cross into. In recovery, this can mean cutting yourself off from social groups who aren’t aligned with your recovery or don’t have your best interests in mind. Mental boundaries can be more abstract concepts, like self-respect, impulse control, or following an ethical code.
Essentially, boundaries govern your thoughts and behaviors and keep you from doing things you regret or that put you at physical or emotional risk.
Why Are Boundaries Important for People in Recovery?
Many rehabs focus on life skills programs, helping teach people whose lives have been stunted by drugs and alcohol how to function normally. These programs are important because they increase self-reliance, self-dependence, and the ability to get into a routine.
This is a form of boundary setting. By learning how to function on your own, you’re able to make decisions about how to approach certain tasks and build a set of guidelines for your life. People in recovery need to be more disciplined than people who have not had to undergo rehab programs, because they’re at risk of slipping back into their old ways, which can lead to relapse and having to take steps back in their recovery journey.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
So, setting healthy boundaries is important to function effectively in rehab and resist the sway of internal and external forces calling on you to change your ways. Here are some things to focus on:
Prioritizing the Way You See Yourself
Boundaries start with seeing yourself in a healthy way. Many people who have struggled with addiction have a low sense of self-worth. They may feel ashamed of the things they did when they were using, or feel like they’re “lesser” because they had to go to rehab.
In reality, everyone struggles. You’re no better or worse than anyone else because you had to get treatment for addiction — the important thing to remember is that you asked for help, got it, and are now receiving the chance to start fresh. As your self-esteem and self-image improve, you’ll naturally start to develop a more assertive nature, enabling you to have more discipline in your thoughts, routines, and interactions with other people.
Push Back on Social Pressure
Many people in rehab are unable to go back to the friend groups they spent time with before they got help because those friends are still using or hang out in places that may be triggers to use.
This is an easy choice to make, but inevitably, you’ll be confronted with opportunities to put yourself back in those or similar situations. This is where your boundaries play a major role, and allow you to replace negative social pressure with positive, supportive peer groups.
Reinforce your Boundaries with your Support System
Speaking of peer support, talking through ways to set and use healthy boundaries in a group setting is a great way to reinforce them. This allows you to run through hypothetical scenarios and think of how you’ll react in a way that keeps your routines and self-respect intact. Peer support groups can be grown in a 12-Step setting, as well as any group therapy programs with other people in recovery.
Are you in need of support in your recovery? Hickory Treatment Centers can help! Contact us today and learn about the best options for you.