Family therapy is an important part of addiction treatment. A major aspect of family therapy is learning to respect boundaries in family relationships. Boundaries essentially mean respecting someone else’s needs and desires while at the same time asserting your own. It means neither trying to control someone else nor being too distant. Dysfunctional relationships often lack boundaries. These relationships are characterized by shame, deceit, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and manipulation. People who engage in these kinds of behaviors show little concern for the other person’s needs or desires. Indeed, they may not recognize the other person as a person with a will of her own. These kinds of relationships can lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and depression. People often use substances to cope with the pain of not feeling respected as a person. People in codependent relationships may have trouble identifying their own boundaries. The core of codependency is that one person totally forgets about her own needs and desires in the service of the other. These habits are often learned in childhood, from codependent parents. Codependency often leads to substance use. This is especially true of women, who are more likely to start using drugs because of a romantic partner. Unless the codependency is corrected during treatment by teaching both partners to identify and respect boundaries, there is a very high risk the relationship will lead to relapse. Setting boundaries isn’t always easy. In fact, it might take some time to know what you actually need and want. There are some situations that are clear violations of boundaries, such as abuse, lying, or coercion. Other situations are murkier. Emotional manipulation can be subtle and the manipulator isn’t always aware of what she’s doing. Establishing and enforcing boundaries is a dynamic process that takes practice and reflection. One way to start is by paying attention to gut feelings. If you feel some internal resistance or confusion when someone asks you to do something, you may be feeling that your boundaries are being violated. Learn to be polite but firm when you don’t feel right about something. Perhaps the most important thing to remember about boundaries is that setting boundaries and respecting other people’s boundaries is not selfish. Some people feel like they should do whatever someone asks or else they’re being selfish. While caring for others is good, you also have to care for yourself. You are no less deserving of respect than anyone else. If someone asks you to do something you don’t feel good about, you can say no. One way to think of this is put your boundaries in terms of values. For example, if someone asks you to lie for him, but you value honesty, your refusal to lie is not a selfish act, but a way of honoring a larger value. Respecting boundaries means respecing your own value and others’ value as people. It means acknowledging everyone has his own will and respecting his needs and wishes. Families that respect each other’s’ boundaries are stronger because they interact on equal terms, offering support without coercion, and asking for help without demanding. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.