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Individuals participating in outpatient treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) sometimes have difficulty establishing and maintaining personal boundaries. Clients in recovery learn to create healthy boundaries by engaging with peers during group therapy and other community activities. According to Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, “[P]eer support groups are considered an important aspect of the addiction recovery process.” West Coast Recovery Centers uses group therapy and other forms of peer support to ensure clients have an opportunity to learn healthy boundaries during outpatient treatment. 

What Are Healthy Boundaries? 

Boundaries set limits on how people interact with you. Healthy boundaries ensure everyone involved in an interaction feels heard and respected. According to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), “A person with healthy boundaries can say ‘no’ to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.” Setting clear boundaries helps you focus on recovery and have wholesome interactions with family, peers, and the clinical team during outpatient treatment. 

Everyone has different types of boundaries they feel most comfortable expressing. Both people in an interaction should feel comfortable being assertive and setting personal limits. 

Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to being assertive and expressing their preferences. Both people in an interaction should feel comfortable setting personal limits. Often, people have different limits for different people. For example, you may feel comfortable letting a close friend tease you but feel hurt when a co-worker does the same thing. The type of relationship a person has with someone else affects their boundaries. 

Some examples of healthy boundaries include: 

  • Limiting the access others have to your time 
  • Telling people if, when, how, and where you do or do not like being touched or approached
  • Sexual boundaries 
  • Emotional boundaries
  • Limiting how much material and practical support you provide someone (e.g., money, transportation, housing, etc.) 

Everyone deserves to have their limits acknowledged and respected. Listening to others and determining their boundaries will help you figure out how to respect them and establish your own. Many people in outpatient treatment use time at home or work to practice setting clear boundaries. Peer engagement is also essential during outpatient care. Some people find it easier to set boundaries with others who share similar life experiences. 

Mutual Respect and Actively Listening to Others 

Actively listening to others and their needs is a fundamental part of respecting their boundaries. You cannot expect others to listen to your needs if you refuse to do the same. Mutual respect and finding healthy ways to compromise or resolve conflict allow people in recovery to overcome uncomfortable and unexpected social situations. 

Actively listening to others involves doing the following: 

  • Showing open and inviting body language, including making eye contact and facing them with your arms at your sides 
  • Repeating back or rephrasing what they have said to show you are listening 
  • Providing relevant responses at appropriate intervals 
  • Practicing empathy and compassion by listening without judgment 

People in recovery set boundaries to protect themselves from relapse or emotional distress. For example, people in recovery set boundaries about when and where they disclose details about their diagnosis and treatment. Most people have different levels of trust in friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues. Boundaries are strengthened by trust. The type of boundary and how it relates to a person or group often changes depending on how well a person trusts them. Outpatient treatment helps people in recovery learn to trust others and build relationships built on respect and healthy communication.

How West Coast Recovery Centers Help Clients Set Clear Boundaries in Recovery

Clients in treatment for substance misuse and co-occurring conditions spend much of their time learning healthy coping skills and managing their condition with the help of recovery specialists. West Coast Recovery Centers understands the importance of utilizing those skills and resources in everyday social interactions. Outpatient programs allow clients to spend time with their families and close friends each day, helping them establish healthy boundaries using the skills learned in treatment. 

Practicing Healthy Boundaries in Outpatient Treatment

Actively participating in outpatient group therapy and other social activities ensures people in recovery can practice setting personal limits. Most people in treatment for substance misuse have difficulty recognizing and respecting social boundaries at first. The care team works with each client to ensure they fully understand how boundaries affect physical and mental health. Connecting behaviors to consequences can help people recognize the importance of healthy social boundaries.

Some ways people practice setting healthy boundaries include: 

  • Being transparent with loved ones about what makes them feel comfortable or uncomfortable
  • Standing firm with people who may question their boundaries 
  • Using internal affirmations to motivate them during and after social interactions

West Coast Recovery Centers ensures clients have the tools to build healthy social connections to support long-term recovery.

Clients in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) benefit from developing essential social skills, including setting personal boundaries. Establishing limits and respecting the boundaries of others reduces tension in social situations and helps clients in recovery create more meaningful social bonds. Peer support and family relationships are essential to successful long-term recovery. Outpatient programs make learning and practicing crucial social skills easier for people in recovery. Clients are guided through the process of identifying and setting personal limits in everyday social interactions. Family therapy during outpatient treatment ensures everyone in the family unit recognizes and respects boundaries. To learn more about our programs and services, call West Coast Recovery Centers today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division