It’s not uncommon for recent graduates of a treatment program to test boundaries, which makes it crucial for their loved ones to maintain their principles. If boundaries are allowed to be broken, addicted family members will feel compelled to give up and return to their old ways.
Frequently, the recovering individual counts on this happening, as living in the old ways can be much more convenient than living with new boundaries. Loved ones provide an important part of recovery by enforcing accountability while preserving self-respect.
Once a boundary is crossed, it’s important to acknowledge it and consider the appropriate response. This moment will provide a clarity that allows him or her to avoid saying things that will later cause resentment. Be sure to take whatever time is needed to be able to respond without a stream of anger and resentment.
A crossed boundary deserves a calm, assertive verbal reiteration of the infraction from the transgressed individual that can unfold as follows:
Transgressor: (yelling) “I haven’t had a beer in three months and you think that if I go to the bar, I’ll have a lapse?”
Transgressed: (calmly) “I meant it when I told you that I wouldn’t converse with someone using a raised voice. I will only discuss this with you when your voice is calm.”
Transgressor: “Those aren’t my drugs. I was holding them for a friend.”
Transgressed: “I told you that there were no drugs allowed in the house. I feel angry, frustrated and disappointed that they were allowed in the house anyway. You need to find a new place to stay within three days.”