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Why Setting Boundaries Is Important to Your Sobriety

Sometimes saying no can be challenging. In the past, it might have been difficult for you to set healthy boundaries between you and your loved ones. You might have had people tell you that your values are stupid, or that you’re making a mistake trying to get help, or even that staying sober is a waste of time. In those moments, you weren’t being respected. Having your boundaries violated, or not establishing boundaries in the first place, can lead to negative self-image and manipulation from others, even if they didn’t intend it. 

What Are Boundaries? 

Boundaries are limits and rules that we set for ourselves within our relationships. When we set boundaries, we consider our values, our feelings, and how we expect to be treated. Boundaries can be set in a calm, assertive manner. “No, I’m not interested in having a drink.” “The way you talked to me made me feel uncomfortable.” The people in your life might not respect your boundaries initially, but it’s important to stand firm even if others don’t agree.

Setting Boundaries Can Be Intimidating

Asserting yourself when you’re not used to it can be terrifying, especially if you have a habit of being a people pleaser. In the past, you might not have been taught about setting boundaries and this can reflect in interpersonal relationships, with a partner, a friend, or a family member, for example. It’s important to remember that you have needs and rights and those deserve to be respected. When you first start saying “no,” you might feel like a villain, but you aren’t. You are listening to yourself. 

Being in Control of Your Life Is Important to Recovery

By asserting healthy boundaries, you are taking control of your own life and decisions. Being in control is extremely important to sobriety because feeling out of control can lead to relapse. You deserve to be in the driver’s seat of your own decisions. Saying “no” when something goes against your values and expressing your feelings will help put you in control. You are responsible for the outcomes. 

Gaining Self-Worth Through Saying “No”

When you assert yourself, you are putting your needs first. If you’re not used to enforcing boundaries, it can feel weird.  But by respecting your values and feelings, you’re telling yourself, “I matter.” When you experienced addiction, you might have had a low sense of self-worth, but you made a choice to get clean and focus on what’s important to you. That’s something you can continue into recovery. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no.” You are worthy of respect.

People Might Take It Personally 

When you’re working on building self-worth, it can be hard to justify enforcing boundaries. You may have friends and family you care about who might be offended by these new rules. Maybe some might act resentful or may mean well, but offer you unhelpful advice or opinions. They might even enable bad behaviors, whether intentional or not.  It can be scary to enforce these boundaries because you’re afraid of losing the people you care about. You might be afraid of rejection if you ask for this respect. An important thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t care so much about what others might think of you, but rather focus on how you feel about yourself.  The rejection you may face is not a reflection of who you are.

What Healthy Boundaries Look Like

Healthy boundaries can come across as an abstract concept, which is why examples are important. A healthy boundary can look like developing trust over time instead of putting complete trust in someone right away, or, on the other end, never trusting anyone. It can also look like respecting your own time and energy instead of overcommitting, or asking for help if you need it, or letting someone know that you didn’t ask for their advice. 

Expressing Boundaries Improves Communication 

Another benefit of setting boundaries is that it helps you become a better communicator. Communication is a key part of healthy and meaningful relationships. Many relationships fail because of poor communication and, since a strong support system is essential to sobriety, your relationships are worth it. By remaining honest and transparent, even about the negative stuff, your relationship can get stronger as a result. If the respect is there, your boundaries will be respected too.

Be an Advocate for Yourself 

Every human being has needs and rights. Enforcing boundaries will take time and practice, but don’t give up. As you continue to be sober, consider what your needs are. Consider what your feelings are and clearly state them. Learn to value yourself.


Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to it, but it’s an important part of maintaining sobriety. Boundaries are tied to self-respect and self-worth, which can impact the choices you make. It’s essential to maintain control over yourself and your life. Feeling out of control can lead to relapse. However, asserting yourself and keeping healthy boundaries between your and your loved ones can lead to stronger relationships and better communication. Sometimes people might feel resentful for these new rules that you have put in place but know that these rules are an important form of self-care. There are unhealthy boundaries and healthy boundaries, and it’s important to know the difference. Here at RECO Intensive, we teach about the importance of healthy boundaries and advocate for you and your rights.  We know just how important caring about your needs is for sobriety and recovery. For more information call us at (561) 464-6533 to learn more about healthy boundaries and being an advocate for yourself.

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