The Addict Loved One- Setting Boundaries

It has taken years to perfect the art of setting boundaries, when it comes to my relationship with my boundariesdaughter, who is a heroin addict in recovery- a young adult of 27 years.

In the cases of chronic relapse, both addict and dedicated family members dust themselves off after each ‘slip’ and try to figure it out, that is, if you are practitioners of kind love (as opposed to tough love), and want a relationship of sorts, as I do with my daughter, then setting boundaries for everyone’s health and safety are one of the keys to success.

What problem areas need boundaries set, how do you set them, and how do you enforce them, you ask? The answers can be found in the following case history I read about on a forum for parents of addicts;



Case history: Here is Jake, a heroin addict, 22 years old, and has been using for 4 years. He lives with his parents, who agree to provide him with basic life necessities, but his addiction drives behavior that is disrupting the lives of the family, and changes must be made.


  • Jake has been lying to his parents about job hunting and NA meeting attendance, and instead has been meeting his dealer and using. Change this by requiring Jake to provide a photo (from cell phone) and business card from each job interview, and also have Jake keep a ‘court card’ where facilitators sign off at the meetings providing verification that Jake attended. Otherwise, he is restricted to house.
  • Jake has been stealing again; he pawned some of Mom’s jewelry, and even forged a check he swiped from her purse. His parents figured out what to change; they now to lock up all jewelry, all credit cards, checks, and cash, and literately anything of value. What is locked up cannot be stolen, and that solves that. Again, coming and going is supervised, and no coming and going without Mom or Dad home.
  • Jake has been using in the bathroom at home. This is totally unacceptable to his parents so they removed the lock on the bathroom door, and from now on Jake is on alert that he has lost his privacy privilege and Mom or Dad can walk in any time…and they frequently do.

Jake may comply, but he may not, and sometimes enough is enough. His parents may find there is too much loss for them, and no benefit to Jake, to continue on with ‘addiction as usual’, and may say “Jake’s gotta go”, yet at the same time neither Mom nor Dad are proponents of tough love or putting their son out on his ass, with no money no shelter no job, and still using. This is one of the most difficult situations because the desirable possibilities are limited, and the streets are not an option- too dangerous, and too hard to recover from. Things aren’t like the 90’s with resources dried up and services cut to the bone. This is when residential facilities seem to be the best choice to jump-start recovery.

Guiding their son toward recovery and healing is what drives Jake’s parents, using harm reduction, kind love, and the setting of boundaries. Jake may also well benefit from homeopathy, Sai Sanjeevini patterns, Bach flower remedies, radionics, or one of many other metaphysical healing modalities, but alas, the parents may be unaware this all exists. Perhaps I will send them a message…send-message-14538496

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