Addiction is one of the most trying challenges that any person can overcome. If you are overcoming addiction, then it stands to reason that you will want some personal space. During addiction recovery, it is common to feel like people are overstepping the mark and ignoring your personal boundaries. This can cause erratic, aggressive behavior that can push people away from you.

Having a specific set of personal boundaries can be very useful to ensure that the people closest to you give you the right balance between support and personal space.

What are interpersonal boundaries?

Interpersonal boundaries are simply the boundaries that you place between yourself and others. For example, when a relationship is strong and healthy, it makes it easier for us to let people into our personal circle and build trust together. However, when we feel like a relationship is toxic and unhealthy for our long-term well-being, we need to be able to set up barriers.

Boundaries come in three forms – emotional, physical, and psychological. Physical boundaries involve how you interact with other people – are you comfortable with them touching you? 

Emotional boundaries revolve around how you let someone impact your emotions. Do you let their opinion of you guide how you feel? Does their response to your actions have an emotional impact?

By the same token, psychological boundaries tend to revolve around how you share your personality with others. Are you happy to share your opinions with this person? Your beliefs?

Why Establishing and Managing Interpersonal Boundaries is Essential

Boundaries matter for many reasons. During addiction recovery, you want to have boundaries in place because they help us slowly build up your self-esteem and sense of self-being. Healthy boundaries help to create a stable environment where you can feel safe, wanted, and respected. We tend to lose our own self-respect and sense of inner security when we become addicts: regaining that takes time.

Clear boundaries are important. Managing interpersonal boundaries makes it easier for you to express yourself in a way that the people who matter most can understand and empathize with. In a way, think of these as your ‘rules’ that you set so that you can keep yourself away from situations that might open you up to harm or even relapse.

Boundaries are important as they help you to stay within the realms in which you are comfortable. For example, your addiction might have left you less amenable to things like hugs – instead, you might prefer a handshake or even a simple nod. It is important to make this clear to anyone you deal with.

It is important to set mental boundaries, too. This can involve things like putting in place a clear purpose or ensuring that you can properly apply your morals so that you do not stray from being the person you wish to become.

What causes boundaries to fail during addiction?

When you become addicted, your sole priority is procuring more of the substance that drives you. this makes it easy for you to let go of physical, emotional, and psychological boundaries. You might do things you would never have considered, and you might make decisions or carry out actions that you would normally be disgusted by. If you could get your hands on your chosen substance, nothing else mattered. Often, this addiction drives a sense of self-loathing, and escaping to your substance stops that.

You might find yourself willing to commit crimes, acts of violence, and other activities that would normally be far outside your personality. During addiction recovery, then, it takes time to re-establish these boundaries. It also takes discipline to ensure that you retain those boundaries. 

Managing Interpersonal Boundaries is Easier with Support

One thing to remember is that your battle with addiction is long. You will not be free and clear of your addiction within a few week or anything like that timeframe. Addiction recovery is a long-term game, and with that in mind, you need to ensure you have a support network around you that makes you feel strong. Safe.

That is why turning to professional help such as MARC is recommended. You can receive guidance, support, and assistance in recognizing and setting up your boundaries. In time, this can make it easier to stick to these boundaries as you have people who can remind you of their importance.

This also helps you to stop straying from those boundaries and putting yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable and/or more likely to repeat problematic behaviors. Managing interpersonal boundaries takes an understanding of what your boundaries are first and foremost.  Learn what they are, and with the right addiction recovery support, you can ensure that these boundaries are not an afterthought.