A Deep Dive Into Personal Boundaries. Part 1: Setting Boundaries With Drugs And Alcohol.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article that was really an overview on the importance of setting personal boundaries. After a few requests, I have decided to delve a little deeper into what will be a three-part series over the next few weeks.

Part 1.) Setting Boundaries With Drugs And Alcohol

Part 2.) Setting Boundaries With Family and Friends

Part 3.) Setting Boundaries With Your Partner.



This is an area where a lack of boundaries can be ever so destructive and potentially life threatening.

When I was a young teenager, I had the only boundary you need when illicit drugs are involved – DON’T TOUCH THEM! I was actually dead against drugs until the age of fifteen.

My parents had spent a lot of time talking with me about the dangers of drugs. My Mum even made me read the diary of a drug addict who tragically died from an overdose (Go Ask Alice – By Anonymous), as an educational deterrent. I was so against them that I lectured anyone I knew who took them.  I remember being offered ecstasy when I was fourteen, I of course, said no with great conviction – I knew saying no was the best and only boundary to have.

Sadly, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, this all changed due to emotionally overwhelming life circumstances that led me to drop that boundary, and set me on a path of self-destruction.

I’ve had to work hard to put that boundary back up, and unfortunately just saying no isn’t enough for me anymore. In fact, as an addict, saying no to drugs is one of the hardest things to do. There is a compulsion to say yes that overrides all sense of reason. This is why I’ve had to put other boundaries in place.

My main boundary is to have friends that don’t take drugs, and for the most part I don’t. However, there are a couple of people in my outer circle that do, and with these people I have to set different boundaries.

  • I have asked them to make sure they never offer me drugs.
  • I ask that they don’t take drugs in front of me or let me know that they have drugs in their possession.
  • I only see these people in a safe environment: work, a café, etc.
  • I limit the amount of time I spend with these people.

If these people don’t adhere to my boundaries, I will not hesitate to immediately dismiss them from my life. I cannot afford to compromise on these boundaries, after all, that’s exactly what got me into this mess in the first place.


Again, this is such a destructive area for people, but one where boundaries are seldom thought of. Alcohol, particularly in Australia, is an encouraged part of our culture – getting sloshed is joked about and rewards you with a pat on the back from your mates.

I remember being quite responsible with alcohol in early adolescence. I’d have just a couple of quiet drinks at a party, but getting drunk wasn’t something I did. That was until my first true love broke my heart at the age of sixteen. That was when my natural drinking boundaries vanished into thin air.

I instantly became a dangerous binge drinker, I would go out of my way to drink as much as possible in one night. Mixing drinks and slamming down shots like lolly water. I was trying to drown out my broken heart.

I’m a fairly happy drunk – that is until I’ve had that one too many. After that, well ashamedly, I’m a foul mouthed, aggressive arsehole who totally and utterly embarrasses herself and everyone else around me.

I’ve done this more times than I care to count, each time hating and berating myself, but never acknowledging that I had the power to change this. I guess you could say I was a slow learner, I believed that binge drinking didn’t justify as a problem because I wasn’t an alcoholic. The notion of implementing boundaries took me a long time to discover, but when I did I actually wrote them down.

  • Don’t do shots
  • Don’t mix drinks
  • Don’t drink wine in a party situation
  • When I start to feel woozy – stop drinking alcohol and switch to water

When I stick to these boundaries, everything is fine and I’m perfectly behaved, but I’ll be honest, sometimes I have gone out (which is very rare these days) and completely forgotten these boundaries: caught up in ‘having a good time’, or an emotional issue is bothering me and I’ve sub-consciously slipped back into old coping mechanisms. Each time I’ve forgotten these boundaries, I can tell you, it’s been completely disastrous!

The last time I let these ever important boundaries slip, I actually got arrested for being drunk in a public place. I spent the night in jail, freezing my arse off with no water or toilet paper for that matter – GROSS!

When they let me out in the morning and handed me back my belongings the police officer said “ Ahh well, at least you didn’t lose any of your belongings”, no I replied “I’ve just lost my dignity instead”. I kept having vague flashbacks of me being handcuffed as I rolled around on the floor of the divvy van, trying to kick my way out.

I didn’t leave the house for nearly two weeks after that ‘slip up’ – I was covered in bruises and cuts that needed time to heal, and more importantly my bruised ego needed time to heal. Mentally and emotionally I just wanted to die, the self-loathing took quite a while to stop. But upon reflection, this incident was a good learning curve – an important reminder to always have my boundaries in place.

Some people are lucky and have strong inbuilt boundaries that come naturally and effortlessly, but for those of you who are a bit wild and reckless like me, you need to sit down and consciously write them out. Read them daily if you have to! Since my little hurrah in jail, I actually keep a copy of mine in my wallet; that way when I’m out, I can go to the toilet and read them if I need to reinforce these guidelines.

They are really like a best friend to me: they keep me safe, they keep me grounded, and most importantly, they keep me from hurting myself – physically, spiritually and emotionally!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what your personal boundaries are with drugs and alcohol in the comment section.

– Stacey 

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