The Tara Treatment Center Blog

Boundaries and Bouncing Back

Family, Love, and Boundaries

This blog entry is in response to demand for resources on co-dependence/ boundaries from our facebook page!  Thank you for your feedback!

Addiction feeds off of co-dependence.  As Diane Buxton explains, “It’s a family disease, isn’t it[See Diane’s personal story here]“. This begs the question, ‘What tools can we use to keep firm boundaries with our loved one?  Where can we find support?’

SAMHSA’s Toolbox to Keep Healthy Boundaries with an Addicted Loved One:

It may sound cliche, but using a few scripts can be very effective.  We often need to watch our pronouns!

PRODUCTIVE Statements  (Try These!)

  • Be sensitive, asking questions like “How are you feeling about your life lately? I’ve noticed you’re drinking more than usual.”
  • Use the pronouns “I” or “we.” “After you drink, I feel frustrated and sad that I can’t talk to you.”
  • Prepare a Clear Treatment Plan. “We’ve got a great rehab program nearby.  We want you to get help.”
  • Remain Compassionate and Calm.  “I know this hurts right now.  I am here for you.”
  • Get Others on Board. “Your father and sister are here for you too, and we’ve just found a counselor who can help.”


  • Showing Anger. “You never even spend any time with the kids anymore; just too busy getting high.”
  • Using the pronoun “you.” “You don’t listen to me when you’re drunk!”
  • ‘Bargaining’. “If I give you one more chance, will you limit drinking to weekends?’
Addiction in Families boundaries

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones on Boundaries 

PAL Facilitator Kathy Baker-Heckard speaks on the difficulties of loving an addicted family member with firm boundaries.  

 “The biggest piece of advice I’d give to any family member would be: Get some help for yourself!  I cannot stress that enough.  You’re not alone; there are people who understand what you’re going through and can help. Get in to a support group like PAL, Naranon or Alanon.” 

Mike Speakman, founder of PAL, reminds us of the nuances of boundary-setting:

“The first thing to realize is that living at home is actually the highest-stress place to live for an addict in recovery.  This is why we have sober houses, after all.  Since people use substances for stress, the idea of living at home is one that needs to be evaluated in the first place.  

The other big consideration–Have they actually achieved financial independence?  Are they at least progressing towards it?  This is extremely important, but often overlooked.  Families find themselves thinking ‘I want to help my child, but I don’t want to fund their drug use‘.  Finding that perfect limit and enforcing it is the trick to setting up effective boundaries.”