Setting Boundaries While in Recovery 

Establishing boundaries, especially during recovery, is beneficial in many ways. Healthy boundaries promote healthy relationships, healthy communication and establish a new, or renewed sense of self and self-respect.

Non-existent or blurred boundaries are generally par for the course during active addiction. However, lacking boundaries comes from our past. Some of us are raised in environments that do not support healthy boundaries. We may have been neglected and left to tend to ourselves. We also may have been raised too strictly which left no room for our own needs and feelings to be noticed. Lacking boundaries leads to manipulation, abuse and co-dependency; conditions that can lead to, and fuel, addiction.

Do you know the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy boundaries?


Healthy boundaries encourage sharing your feelings and your thoughts as well as honoring your personal values. Respect of self and others is key to establishing healthy boundaries. Taking full responsibility for your actions, words and behaviors is a sign of healthy boundaries.


Allowing someone else to TELL you how to think or feel shows a lack in boundaries; as does telling someone else how to think or feel. People pleasing, sacrificing your values as well as the flip side of that, forcing your values on others, blurs boundaries. Having no boundaries or unhealthy boundaries allows others to define you, dictate your actions and limit you from taking responsibility for yourself and your own feelings.


Your needs are just as important as any other person’s needs. Healthy Relationships must have a foundation of Healthy Boundaries. Here are some examples of how to set healthy boundaries:

UNDERSTAND: Understanding your own values and what you believe helps create a strong core around which you can devlop and strengthen your boundaries.

RESPECT: Developing respect for yourself and others will allow you to define your boundaries and be aware of others’ boundaries. Respect will help you be aware when your boundaries are being ignored and when you are ignoring others’ boundaries.

LIMITS: Stand your ground and be clear with how you wish to be treated, approached and spoken to. For example, state that you wish to be spoken to and heard in a respectful manner rather than being dismissed or shouted at.

SPEAK UP: You must immediately let someone know if they have ignored your boundaries. Find a balance somewhere between aggressive and passive. Blaming or being rude is not effective, but neither is being a push-over. Assertion is a solid, confident, yet polite way to let people know what is acceptable and what is not and an excellent way to keep communication open.

Only you know your limits; set boundaries that make sense to you and resonate with you and your personal values, needs and beliefs. Setting boundaries and maintaining them and developing respect for yourself and others is a crucial component in recovery and in life.