7 thoughts on “How to Set Boundaries with an Alcoholic or Addict

  • August 25, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Great article! Setting boundaries is vital. I think people oftentimes feel like they can’t set boundaries because they are worried the addict will not feel loved or supported. You can still love someone who is struggling when you set those boundaries.

    • August 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Yes, I agree Denise. Ultimately, boundaries are a loving act toward yourself and others even though it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re in the middle of the struggle.

  • August 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    “Another thing to remember about boundaries, is they don’t necessarily have to be shared with the other person. If your loved one perceives your boundaries as rules, efforts to control, or punishments, you may find your best course of action is to simply act on your boundaries.” I found this really important. I tried on numerous occasions to speak to my siblings about their behaviour but it was always met with resistance and a “victim” attitude. It was like banging my head against a brick wall. I came from a family where there was very flimsy boundaries, lots of shaming if you didn’t do what others wanted, and enmeshment; where everybody was involved in other’s lives. Also, lots of passive behaviour: silent treatment, sullenness, door slamming, and lots of huffing and puffing!

  • October 30, 2019 at 3:09 am

    This article is extremely helpful as I am presently trying to establish a boundary that is being strenuously resisted. I find it astonishing to be in a position where I feel I am straining to be respected in my own home by a close member of my family who wants to come and visit and enjoy the benefits of our relationship but will not accept my rule that they are not allowed to have a drink or be under the influence of alcohol under my roof.

  • March 25, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you for this article! Today was the last day of my husband’s year-long probation for a DUI. Tonight, he was drunk. I’m up late now stressed, as he’s been out of work the whole year and I’ve been the sole financial provider (but he’s the primary spender). I feel some guilt as he wasn’t this way, but the codependent relationship between my parents had a huge negative impact on our marriage (I work for them and my husband used to). And I know he has other health issues that haven’t been addressed due to not having health insurance. However, I can’t bear the weight of his choices or his victim mentality, and I don’t deserve to be yelled at every day. My 5 year old doesn’t deserve his impatience. The hardest thing for me is getting into fights with the kids around… because they’re always around since he’s alienated me from my family and his family says they care but we only seem them 2-3 times per year… even though his brother is only 25 min away and works in our town. When he is drunk and argumentative at night I don’t know how to get away from it, once the kids are in bed… I’m tired of running myself ragged to pay off his credit card debt from drinks and other “retail therapy.” Sad the justice system failed us so badly… so many issues thru the whole process. Step 1… my own bank account and transfer what’s left of our tax return to it… if he doesn’t own up to sneaking hard liquor last night… or maybe I should anyway? I just feel like he should have a chance to own up to what he did..?

  • June 26, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    I’m finding it very difficult to set boundaries with a mentally ill adult child. I’m finding it hard to know how or when to get involved. However, they are an adult, and I truly don’t have control over their behaviors. Should boundaries be set toward a person with mental illness? As a parent, I feel a huge obligation to protect my child; and I tend to feel very enmeshed. I am worried all of the time.

    • June 26, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Yvette,
      In general, yes, boundaries are appropriate with people who are mentally ill. (There may be some exceptions depending on the nature and severity of the illness.) Your desire to help and your worry are understandable. Often, however, helping without boundaries becomes enabling. Boundaries create a healthy separation so that you aren’t as enmeshed and worries, you can take care of yourself and let your child make his/her own choices. Perhaps the question to ask yourself is whether not having boundaries is helping you and your child be your healthiest, best selves.
      It’s really hard! Please be good to yourself. 🙂
      best wishes,


Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *