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For the Families

How You Can Set Firm Boundaries with An Addict

It can be heart-wrenching to watch a loved one suffer from addiction. Those of us who have been through this understand the helplessness and frustration that come along with the promises to stop, followed by even worse behavior and dangerous using. As for me, I was that addict and I never understood why my parents were so worried; I had it under control, or so I thought. They had no idea what I was REALLY doing behind the scenes, but I think if they had known, they would have set up firm boundaries with their addict daughter long before they finally did.

Why are Boundaries so Important?

Let’s be honest, you’re reading this because you have a child, a spouse, a parent, or beloved friend who is an addict! You are not alone in your journey, although it may feel like you are. I know that my parents did. In the tiny town of 5,000 people that we hailed from, my mother used to say she couldn’t even pump gas or buy groceries without being followed by judgmental stares and looks of pity. The hardest part for her was that no matter how hard she tried, or how much she yelled or cried or begged, or gave me every opportunity to turn my life around, I never got it together. She would bend over backwards if I asked for help, and my addiction ended up putting her into debt and ruining her credit. Then she learned about boundaries. Yes, there was some enabling going on there for a while, but she found an out. She finally saw that no matter how much she tried, she wasn’t going to ever be able to get me to stop. So she finally decided to remove herself from my situation and let me figure it out on my own. It turns out that was the best thing she ever did for me. It wasn’t the money she loaned me, or answering the late night phone calls to pick me up from the bar, it was letting me go. This is obviously the last thing that we want to do when it comes to the safety and well-being of our loved ones, but take it from a recovered addict who now deals with this stuff herself, the only way to save an addict is to let them hit bottom.

How to Set Boundaries

It all sounds horribly harsh and unsympathetic, but if my mother had never changed the locks or cut me off entirely, I would have been able to keep using comfortably for a long time. Today, I am struggling with these issues myself as my best friend and roommate has just relapsed. Now that I have been on my own for a while and understand the value of money and a peaceful home, let me tell you how I set up healthy boundaries to protect myself and her.

two women having a serious conversation

Set a Time Limit

Here’s the deal, when we know someone, we know when they are not themselves. We can see it in their eyes. To be honest, I had a feeling my roommate was getting high weeks before I finally confronted her. However, I gave her a time limit. First, it was mental, for my own certainty. I told myself that if her behavior hadn’t changed in a week, I would confront her. Once the time came, I was surprised to discover that she got honest with me about it. So from that point, I gave her a week to get her act together, to get back on the wagon and shape up. If she couldn’t, she would be asked to leave. When the time came, and she hadn’t gotten back on the horse (surprise, surprise) she already knew that she had to be out, so the process didn’t result in a huge blowout or screaming match.

No Enabling

This is tricky as addicts can be master manipulators. However, it is absolutely vital that you do not give in to their requests, especially concerning money or a place to crash. Trust your gut, not your heart; if what they are asking for gives you an uneasy feeling, trust it, and don’t cave. You will just be prolonging their using. Once you make the decision to back away, you have to stick with it.

Always Come from a Place of Love, not Anger

This can sound crazy, especially if you have been through the ringer with them countless times. But addicts already suffer from overwhelming amounts of shame and guilt for their actions, so you need to distance yourself with love. They need to know you aren’t playing around, but that when they are finally ready to surrender, they can come to you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

Many loved ones of addicts struggle with codependency issues – they continually put the needs of others before their own. Here’s the deal . . . we will never be able to take care of others unless we ourselves are in a good place, financially, emotionally, spiritually. Think of it as if you are on an airplane when the oxygen masks fall, you need to place yours before your child’s. It’s the same thing here; we cannot hope to be of service to anyone unless we ourselves are in enough of a position of strength to be able to do it with love and compassion.
It can be difficult to distance yourself from your loved one because we know in our hearts that they are beautiful, wonderful people underneath the booze and drugs. However, creating boundaries with an addict is the only option. We have to allow them room to find their bottom. The more we try to intervene and pick them up, the longer they will have to look for it. I understand that it is strange and feels alien to us as we want nothing more than to hold them close and take care of them forever. Being able to distance yourself from an addicted loved one will be one of the hardest things you will ever do. But take it from me, as someone who has experienced both sides, that when that addict finally hits bottom, their ascent back to life will be the most beautiful thing to behold. They will be forever grateful for what you did for them, and you will find out that the relationship between you will grow and flourish.

Getting Help at Wayside House

If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as programs for medical professionals and veterans. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.

Testimonials

  • “Thank you Wayside for being there for her when she needed your help the most!!!”   Woohoo!!! 

  • Wayside taught me how to be a woman and live life clean & sober!

    Alexandra N.

  • “Wayside is more than treatment. It is a home. I grew up emotionally in that little house. I was there for 9 months and they were the best 9 months of my life. To have time to learn about yourself and take the time to focus on yourself is such a blessing. The plants I planted are still there. I see them in the photos. Such a special place!!”

    Amanda O.

  • This is an excellent treatment facility and all women down in Delray Beach, FL. …if you have anything you can send to help these young/older women, believe me anything is appreciated. This place and God did wonders for my girl.

    Amy G

  • Wayside House is where i went to rehab & they are AMAZING!! Its a 90 day program & alot of the girls have absolutely nothing when they move into the house. If your feel generous, or just want to help, it’s a worthy cause!!  Mandy W.

  • “What a rich heritage Wayside House has!”

    Allen S.

  • “It was so nice to hear from Wayside House.  I am still employed and I love my job!!! I will have 9 months on the 21st of October…..All thanks to Wayside and you ladies at the Posner Center!!!!🤗”

    Rita P.

  • “Tonight’s Wayside House Anniversary meeting and listening to the journey’s with 1,2,6,22,29 and 33 years in sobriety empowered my heart! So happy for one of the girls I sent to Wayside House.”

    Katrin O.

  • “Wayside does such good work in our community.” 

    Jan S.

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      What People Are Saying

      • “I have always supported Wayside House — I know women who have come through their program and support all they do. If you don’t know about this fabulous place I encourage you to become involved and find out more — they are an anchor in Delray Beach and their history speaks for itself.” 

        Nancy S.

      • “I went through Wayside House & it was the first place that actually felt like home to me. The staff actually care about their clients and their sobriety. I worked through so much here without fear of being judged. I love wayside & it will always have a special place in my heart along with ALL the amazing women who work there.”

        Mandy W

      • I so wish I could tell the girls how much Wayside saved my life,  and after 31 years sober, it still is just “One Day at a Time” and “The Serenity Prayer.” I will always remember those first days of being at Wayside and how the girls , the counselors , and the House put me back on track to living a fulfilled and Sober life . I followed the AA steps, got a wonderful sponsor and have followed that path ever since. — Pamela R.

      • “Thank you Wayside for being there for her when she needed your help the most!!!”   Woohoo!!! 

      • Wayside taught me how to be a woman and live life clean & sober!

        Alexandra N.

      • “Wayside is more than treatment. It is a home. I grew up emotionally in that little house. I was there for 9 months and they were the best 9 months of my life. To have time to learn about yourself and take the time to focus on yourself is such a blessing. The plants I planted are still there. I see them in the photos. Such a special place!!”

        Amanda O.

      • This is an excellent treatment facility and all women down in Delray Beach, FL. …if you have anything you can send to help these young/older women, believe me anything is appreciated. This place and God did wonders for my girl.

        Amy G

      • Wayside House is where i went to rehab & they are AMAZING!! Its a 90 day program & alot of the girls have absolutely nothing when they move into the house. If your feel generous, or just want to help, it’s a worthy cause!!  Mandy W.

      • Allen S.

        “What a rich heritage Wayside House has!”

      • Rita P.

        “It was so nice to hear from Wayside House.  I am still employed and I love my job!!! I will have 9 months on the 21st of October…..All thanks to Wayside and you ladies at the Posner Center!!!!🤗”

      • Katrin O.

        “Tonight’s Wayside House Anniversary meeting and listening to the journey’s with 1,2,6,22,29 and 33 years in sobriety empowered my heart! So happy for one of the girls I sent to Wayside House.”

      • Jan S.

        “Wayside does such good work in our community.” 

      • Leah J.

        “I just wanted to thank you for how you and the team make the world a better place.  I won’t claim to understand the things you sacrifice, but you are truly wonderful for doing so.“

      • Janine T.

        “I  highly recommend Wayside Women’s in Delray Beach. My daughter completed their wonderful program, she’ll have 2 years July 1st. They have an active alumni. I couldn’t say enough good things about them, they’ve been doing this since mid70’s.”

      • Stacy J.

        “ Thankful for my sobriety and for Wayside! “

      • Susan B.

        “Wayside House was and is an amazing place to me. I am on a journey that is better than I could have ever imagined. The strength of the women that came before me, that are beside me, and those that are there now teach me how to live “.

      • Lisa D.

        “Wayside saved my life and I will never be able to repay them for everything they have done for me.”

      • Dolores A.

        “Wayside house saved my daughter’s life. She transformed into the beautiful woman I knew she could be. It’s only been a few months but one day at a time she and I are enjoying her recovery journey!!!”

      • Jeanne H.

        “We appreciate all that you do to help individuals in recovery, demonstrating God’s love in our community. Your staff at Wayside House continue to help in so many ways, women and their families that need the love, care and support that you are able to provide. Thank you so much for all you do for them.  May God continue to bless you, your staff and your volunteers each and every day for the light you provide for our community.”

      • Susan C.

        “ Wayside is “the light”! Congratulations on the article in the Palm Beach Post
        for all you do to make the commitment to help those in need.”

      • Lynne B.

        “I will always be grateful to Wayside for giving my daughter the tools and knowledge to live a sober life on the outside. You changed her life thank you thank you thank you, may all the people that pass through your wonderful cozy house succeed in sobriety as well.”

      • Katy B.

        “I am sober and happy today thanks to Wayside.”

      • A.D.

        “Having the opportunity to go to Wayside was the best thing I’ve ever done. They lovingly deconstructed my life so I could put it back together. They are a serious program that gave me the ability to understand myself in a way I never thought was possible. They didn’t baby me and they taught me how to be beautifully authentic with myself and those around me. I really can’t thank them enough.”

      • Susan T.

        “Please keep up your wonderful work; the kids of south Florida need you.”

      • Jaimie K.

        “I am making this donation and thank you for all you do!”

      • Pam H.

        “Celebrating 29 years 7/22/2016. Sponsoring, 3-5 meetings a week, and forever grateful to Wayside House!”

      • Laura B.

        “I will be celebrating my 17th year clean and sober.  PLEASE share with the celebrants that I am with them in spirit even though I can’t be with them.  Wayside rocks!  Remind them to stay until the magic happens.”

      • BH alumni

        “I just want to give a shout out to the Wayside staff and alumni who organized and participated in the first annual gratitude dinner. The entire evening was absolutely devine! Wayside House saved my life and I am so very happy that you are at the helm.”

      • Brenda

        “Just walking down memory lane! I Love Wayside House! I went through twice!!
        LOL!! Clean and sober today! Love to all the women! XOXO”

      • Ashley

        “Thank you to Marlies and the Posner Center because without your guidance I wouldn’t have been pushed to pursue what I love and want out of a job and school. You’re amazing!”

      • Colletta D.

        “Proud to be a donor supporter of your efforts.”

      • Sara W.

        “Wayside House saved my life. It was a place that gave me a purpose to follow my dreams. And gave me a life that I never thought could be possible. It is a place where God lives in the lives of so many recovering women. Thank you.”

      • Andrea S.

        “So many miracles and beautiful souls are at Wayside. It’s a very special place.”

      • Phoebe M.

        “What an incredible gift to have gone to Wayside House.  Keep up the great work!”

      • Kathy G.

        “I’m so grateful to be a Wayside Winner 12/89 . One day at a Time.”

      • Christine D.

        “I have to commend Wayside House. They are a 1st class treatment center.”

      • Christine A.

        “I went through Wayside House in 1991 and have been clean and sober for 23 years. I have had four children, two grandchildren, and am happily married. The aftercare and parenting groups that Wayside had is something that helped me so very much as a new parent who was fairly new in recovery. I now have a Bachelor’s degree in social work and am working on a Master’s degree in counseling specializing in addictions counseling. If I had not been placed in Wayside House so many years ago I would have never been able to achieve the things that I have in my life. I am forever grateful for the blessing it has had in my life!”

      • Jeffrey Lane Esq., Weiner, Lynne & Thompson P.A.

        “Wayside is the benchmark by which I hold other similar facilities too.”

      • John Lehman, President FARR

        “I know many women whose lives have been greatly impacted by the quality support they experienced while enrolled and residing in your program. My first hand knowledge dates back to 1980 and I can attest to Wayside’s long tradition of excellence.”

      • J.L.

        “Wayside House saved my sobriety at a critical time in my life. My HP knew I needed to be there and surrounded by strong women who believed in me. Thank you!”

      • Evelyn H.

        “ My life has changed very deeply. I have been given the gift of life in sobriety and treating it like a present.”

      • Cynthia F.

        “I hated God & tried not to believe in any higher power before getting sober. Now I know that each day is a gift and
        that all things are possible through my spiritual connection. All of life is a miracle and for the ultimate good.”

      • Liz D.

        “I just wanted to send my gratitude and thanks for all you have done for me and thousands of women out there recovering from addictions.”

      • Sally W.

        “God bless your work at Wayside.”

      • T.P.

        “Thank you for all that you have done to make me experience Wayside and the true change in my life through this program. I am grateful.”

      • Cindy

        “To all of you fortunate enough to celebrate the holidays at Wayside, I hope you find peace and happiness.
        My Christmas at Wayside was one of the best ever as I received the lasting gift of sobriety. God Bless you all!”

      • Anonymous

        “ My children have been returned and I have found God.”

      • Anonymous

        “Wayside House and God have given me a life I never thought I deserved.”

      • Anonymous

        “Wayside House played a very big role in treating our daughter. We will be forever grateful for you and our blessings from the Lord.”

      • Anonymous

        “ I have restored relationships with my family and learned how to love others. I am accountable, help and trust others and enjoy living life. I have peace and I don’t worry. I know that everything is going to be OK. I also attend three meetings a week and sponsor several women.”

      • Anonymous

        “ By spending time with my awesome God every morning who saved me by touching my life while at Wayside. God continues to draw me close to him.”

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