You’ve probably had people tell you that you need to kick your loved one out of your home if he/she is using. Although there’s lots of advice out there, it can be hard to know what is the right decision for you and your family. Every situation is different. In all the talk of using “tough love” there is often little discussion about what factors you may want to think about when making the decision to tell your loved one to leave the home.  In this post we will outline several factors to consider in making this tough decision and then give you easy to follow guidance to apply these factors to your life.

How To Assess Your Own Boundaries

Boundaries are our limits about what is okay or not okay in a relationship. For example, you may have a boundary that there is no name calling during fights between you and partner. Or, you may have boundary that your sister can’t spend time with your kids when she’s been drinking. Which boundaries you choose are up to you. Instead of thinking that everyone should have the same boundaries, we want to suggest that what’s important to consider is your own unique boundaries. It’s important to pick boundaries that you can live with. After all, you are the one who is going to set the boundary and to maintain the boundary, so you want to make sure that you pick one that you feel is right for you.

Here are five factors to consider when picking boundaries that relate to your loved one who is using drugs or alcohol (including whether you will be OK with your loved one using drugs or alcohol in your home):

  1. Consider the impact of your loved one’s use on you and your family’s emotional and physical health. Is the stress of your loved one using at home becoming too much to handle? Are you suffering from anxiety or depression that you believe is largely due to the stress of having a loved one who uses? If your emotional and physical health are seriously impacted by your loved one’s addiction, it may be time to consider what would be best for you. If you have other family members in the home, you may also want to consider their physical and emotional health. If their health is being significantly impacted by your addicted loved one, it may be time to consider what boundaries you can set to reduce the negative impact of the addiction on you and your family. Just because your addicted loved one’s life is going down the toilet, doesn’t mean the whole family has to go with them.
  2. Consider your financial resources. If your loved one moves out of the house, do you have the financial resources to care for yourself or others? Will you have housing and health insurance? Are there family members or friends who can help you out financially?
  3. Consider your values. Think about the type of partner or family member you want to be. What do you want to be remembered for by your friends and family? Consider your values about self-care and the way you want to care for yourself. Your health and happiness are important too. If you could have the kind of relationship with yourself that you’ve always wanted, what qualities would define this relationship (for example, I’d be kind to myself)? How much do these factors matter in the decision to have them to move out?
  4. Consider your ability to maintain boundaries. If you know that you won’t be able to resist your daughter coming back home after she’s fired again for drinking on the job, then having the boundary that she cannot live with you when she is drinking will probably be ineffective. However, if you know that you are willing to withhold giving her money while she is living with you, then this may be a more effective boundary. Again, pick boundaries that you can live with. If you need to have firmer boundaries and need some help, consider looking for a therapist or counselor who can help you with maintaining boundaries. Or consider getting support in implementing the principles of CRAFT.
  5. Consider your willingness. Setting and maintaining boundaries may initially make your loved one angry, upset, or confused. It is important to recognize your willingness to tolerate this distress (remember, if there is a danger of domestic violence, always take action to ensure your safety). If setting and maintaining limits is tough for you, then you probably want to spend some time planning for how you will cope with your loved one’s distress when you set and hold boundaries.

The decision to kick your loved one out of your home or to set limits to make their use a little harder (for example, not calling in sick for your loved one makes their use a little tougher because he/she will need to face their boss about why he/she called out sick), is not easy. Considering the above factors may give you some insight about what limits you can and want to set to help you and your loved one.

How to put it all together and make a decision

Soberfamilies has created a worksheet for you that will lead you through all the steps needed to make a decision whether to ask your loved one to leave the house. This worksheet that will help you to think through all the factors outlined above and then make a decision that you can live with. It’s important to remember that there’s no perfect decision for these kinds of situations, but you can make the best one for you and your family. This worksheet will help you to think through these factors and make a good decision that is best for everyone involved. If you decide to use it, please give us feedback in the comments section.