This topic is crucial, whether you're the family member, you're the person that has the addiction, your counselor, or you don't have anything to do with addiction at all. You need to know how to set and communicate effective boundaries.
The most effective way to communicate a boundary is by not verbally communicating. You see, that's where most people mess it up. They want to tell people what they can and can't do or what they will and won't do. You say to your kid, you can't have drugs in this house, or you can't come home drunk anymore. I know you want to communicate that way because you feel like you're setting a boundary, but boundaries are about your behavior, not their behavior.
You can set boundaries for your behavior.
When setting a boundary for your behavior, you must stop believing that people deserve a fair warning.
You have in your mind that because you've communicated the boundary, it's like you've set this new rule, and the person is to respect that.
It sounds great in theory, but it's ineffective. Someone isn't going to shift how they treat you until you change how you treat the situation. The best way to communicate with them is by your behavior.
For example, if you're trying to set a boundary around how much you are, are not going to help someone financially, telling someone,
"Hey, I'm tired of you coming to me, asking me for money all the time. That's the only time you call me is when your crisis or want something."
Guess what? They're going to call again. They're going to test your boundary. The best way to communicate that is to either not answer the phone when they call you or to say, "oh, I'm sorry about that. I can't help you." You don't have to go into a lecture about it. You don't have to tell them why or why not? You don't have to say I'm broke. I can't. You don't have to say, "because you're not fueling their addiction." The more you talk, especially dealing with an addiction, the more likely you're to start an argument.
It's hard enough to set healthy boundaries with people from the beginning. But it's hard to fix it after the damage.
You have to take some responsibility for the fact that maybe you've trained that kind of situation to be okay when you're not okay with it. When this happens, you're holding a lot of resentments about it.
If your boundary is, I don't want to be around you when you're intoxicated. That's a common one that people deal with when it comes to addiction. If you don't want to be around them when they're intoxicated, you would like to say, "you can't come home if drunk." But the way to set this boundary is to remove yourself, put yourself in another room, and do something else. I'm not talking about doing it in the way of I'm mad, and you're being punished. Just respectfully be like, "Hey, I'm going to watch my Netflix series in the other room."
When you do this enough times, you begin to retrain people without saying it.
At first, people don't like it when you change the rules of the game. You need to go into that situation, understanding that. It's natural for them to be frustrated. Go ahead and expect them to be frustrated, but don't get mad that they're angry.
You've likely been playing this game with them for a long time, and now you're changing the rules-- it's natural, so expect it. When setting these boundaries at first, they're going to try to make you feel guilty and criticize you.
If that happens, then there's some truth in the fact that you changed the rules of the game. I would acknowledge it and say, "you know what, you're right." For most, if you do this, they will relearn the rules. Some people will not, and they will disconnect their relationship from you. If that happens, then that means that they were only in a relationship with you to get that one thing from you that you're just not willing to give anymore.
I know it can be hurtful. At some point during boundary setting, there's always a couple of surprises. Like people you think were really with you, you find out they weren't. You can expect that. Everybody's not going to love it when you change the rules of the game. I want you to keep calm and stay centered. If they've got a valid point, then acknowledge their point.
It's a training process to get things moving back in the right direction.
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