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Social connections and personal relationships can significantly affect a person's ability to cope with daily stressors during recovery. Individuals in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health issues learn how to communicate their needs and set clear personal boundaries.
Peer interactions within the facility allow clients to express their needs and desires in a safe and controlled environment. Setting clear boundaries in recovery and asserting personal values can protect clients and improve their outcomes. Samarpan educates people in recovery on how to establish and maintain clear boundaries.
Personal boundaries are highly subjective and look different for everyone. Below are brief descriptions of a few different types of limitations clients can set.
Physical limits: Every individual has a right to set boundaries around their personal space and how much physical contact they have with others
Emotional limits: People should feel comfortable communicating desires, wants, and preferences with those around them
Professional limits: Expressing opinions, beliefs, and limits within the workplace while prioritizing mental and physical health
Relationship limits: Disclosing personal goals, needs, limits, and desires within the bounds of an intimate relationship
According to Samarpan's Director of Residential Services, Martin Peters, “Most people, not just people with addiction struggle with boundaries. Helping our clients learn about healthy boundaries, enables them to maintain their own safety and hold to their true core values. It's often said that the only people who get upset about someone setting boundaries are the ones that benefit from someone not having any. For the person with addiction, and their families, all will benefit from learning about boundaries, as well as practicing them whilst they are in treatment.”
Family or work pressure, chronic stress, and internalized negativity can all contribute to mental health issues. Limiting the impact of these stressors makes it easier for people to focus on healing and building the foundation for a better future. Healthy social boundaries can improve mental health by doing the following:
Clarifying responsibilities within relationships
Setting an expectation of mutual respect
Providing a clear guideline for others to show their support
According to the Cleveland Clinic, "[H]ealthy boundaries shine a light on your personal needs while acknowledging the needs of those around you." Setting boundaries in recovery creates an environment where everyone feels safe expressing their feelings and respecting those around them.
Obi Unaka, the Deputy Director of Residential Services at Samarpan, has stated, “A major part of our treatment program includes the practice of setting boundaries in recovery and assertively communicating. Clients are encouraged to practice this amongst one another as this will help in the development of their ongoing recovery both within the family and in other interpersonal relationships.”
Setting healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable and even frightening at first for people who have never prioritized their own needs. According to Healthline, "Even though personal boundaries can be challenging to navigate, setting and communicating them is essential for our health, well-being, and even our safety." Samarpan helps clients gain confidence and improve their social skills by encouraging peers to communicate their needs and respect the needs of others.
Effective communication is the foundation of healthy relationships. To create boundaries, a person must actively listen to the needs of others and express their own needs. The therapists at Samarpan guide clients through learning to engage in positive communication with the clinical team, peers, and family members.
To set physical and emotional boundaries, a person must first understand their limits. People can learn how to identify and respect their physical and mental limits by recognizing how certain behaviors affect them. Once they identify problem areas, clients can work with their care team and family to set clear limits.
Knowing when and how to say "no" is one of the most important things to learn when setting limits. Personal autonomy is essential to genuine recovery. Saying "no" to things that cause emotional or physical distress improves independence. In addition to being comfortable saying "no," people in treatment must understand how to identify and communicate their needs. Some people may use saying "no" as an excuse to avoid problems. We can help clients learn to use personal choice in a healthy way.
Healthy relationships involve compromise, open communication, and mutual respect. Every person has certain limits and things that make them feel uncomfortable or safe. Boundaries allow people to share those limits with other people. Setting boundaries in recovery is a two-way street; both individuals should feel validated, supported, and heard.
Setting boundaries in recovery can protect your safety by informing others of your physical limits. Many people in recovery for substance misuse or mental health disorders have experienced physical trauma caused by abuse or assault. Trauma therapy can help them identify triggers and set healthy boundaries to decrease stress and improve personal safety.
A few examples of physical limits a client may set include:
No physical touching or touch limited to specific actions like shaking hands
Requiring several feet of personal space
No touching personal belongings unless specifically given permission
Feeling physically safe and secure during treatment and recovery can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, many clients find it easier to identify and articulate physical limits. Emotional boundaries may not seem as easy to determine or request. Samarpan uses aspects of trauma-informed care to encourage clients to express limitations. We can help clients build healthy boundaries and prepare for long-term recovery. Clients have an opportunity to develop essential life skills that will make it easier for them to establish and maintain personal and professional limits.
Recovery is a long process that requires people to make significant changes to their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Individuals in recovery need to set clear boundaries to communicate their needs and desires to others in their life. Boundaries can fluctuate and change as a person begins to heal. The physical and emotional limits clients set during their recovery will influence their long-term recovery and how well they reintegrate into society. Family members can support their loved ones in recovery by respecting boundaries and setting their own. Samarpan facilitates the creation of boundaries using positive peer interactions and family support services. To learn more about our programs, call us at +91 81809 19090.
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