4. Communicating Effectively with your Relative and Setting Limits


Activity: Boundaries and limits

Think of examples or limits you have set in the past in your relationship with a person who has a substance use problem, or in other relationships. It can be confusing when you try to support and love the person who uses substances, and yet at the same time you try to set limits.

Consider the following scenarios. Which of these scenarios would you tolerate? Which ones would you not tolerate?




My friend drops off her children for babysitting when she has been drinking.

My partner, who is high, calls me from work to ask for a ride.

My partner calls me from a bar at 2:30 a.m. She is drunk.

My son smokes pot on the porch of our house.

My daughter smokes pot in her room in our house.

My son smokes pot in the living room of our house.

My daughter takes money out of my wallet.

My son demands that I make him some supper at 1:00 a.m.

My daughter swears at me when I ask her to clean up after herself.

My son punches a hole in the wall during an angry outburst.

Drug dealers come to the house asking for my daughter.

My son asks me to pay off his debt so he is not beaten up.

My daughter calls to inform me she has been using drugs and asks me to look after her children.

My mother calls me from a treatment facility begging me to take her home.

My sister calls me periodically, telling me she has cut herself.


Everyone has different boundaries and sets different limits, and there is no right and wrong. You need to make your own decisions.

Empowering Families Affected by Substance Use © , CAMH.