All relationships where people live and/or interact together need boundaries in place to develop trust, stability and respect within the relationship. Effective boundaries give a sense of security and respect.
When a substance user lives in a household, boundaries often get stretched to the limit or even broken down completely – giving the family/whānau members a sense of helplessness. Some family/whānau members have described feeling like they were walking around on eggshells.
Family, whānau and friends firstly need to remember who pays the rent, the mortgage or owns the house. Giving away power through fear or threats is not effective and will only lead to more chaos and anxiety. The truth is that the drug user would be at a disadvantage without a place to stay. They usually know this very well.
There are three stages to effective boundary setting:
Defining the boundary and consequences that everyone agrees on and can live with
Setting the boundary and communicating the understanding of all parties
Keeping the boundary
Action learning is a useful concept here because the truth is that boundaries need setting and modifying many times. So there is a constant process of:
So it is always important that you don’t see boundaries as totally set in concrete.
Why set boundaries?
They encourage your loved one to take more responsibility for their behaviour
They help them become aware that their behaviour impacts on those around them
They model a healthy and safe way for people to coexist, even when there are difficulties
They help the whole family/whānau minimise the harm and negative impact of substance use and the attendant behaviours
They help break down negative roles that members get stuck in e.g. mothers rescuing their children, loved ones relying on others to accommodate them, family/whānau getting angry etc.
Support for families faced with problematic alcohol and/or other drug use
This informative resource is a valuable tool for families faced with problematic alcohol and/or other drug use in family/whānau members.
A Guide to Coping has been produced by Family Drug Support Australia. It is free for Friends of FDS. Please just let us know if you would like a copy. Additional copies are available to Friends of FDS at a reduced rate. The standard cost for A Guide to Coping is $30. Please contact us if you would like to purchase one.