Most relationships start with good intentions. When parents have children, most experience a moment when they look at their baby and they think something to the tune of, “I’m going to give this kid the world.” When we start dating someone new, we might say, “This time will be different. I’m going to do better.” New relationships bring new hope and a commitment to be better!

And then life happens. Sometimes it’s financial strain, a tricky friend group, a trauma that happens to the family, or a trauma that happens to a person that no one knows about. Attitudes change and good intentions may slowly turn into frustration, assumptions and misunderstanding.

When a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, focus gets pulled away from good intentions and hope—and becomes directed toward the substance use and the frustration. In an effort to set boundaries, we may forget the positive pieces of the relationship and inadvertently shut that person out.  

Sometimes it helps to understand substance use disorder by framing it with something that isn’t as heavy. Imagine a challenge where you and your family cannot look at your cell phones for 24 hours—no checking Twitter or Instagram, no texting, no streaming TV shows. For most of us, this would be really tough! But, since we are doing the challenge with our family, we have support and people around us who understand what we are going through. We can cheer each other on and distract each other.

Now, imagine you are doing this challenge alone. It’s going to be even harder to be without your phone when you don’t have people cheering you on or supporting you when you REALLY want to check that app…or even harder, when everyone around you is using theirs. This is just a small glimpse of what it’s like to begin recovery.

Change is really, really, really hard; it’s harder doing it alone. I know for myself, when I must make a really hard change, it's easier when I have people who love me who are going to help see me through it.

Relationships are not black and white. When substance use disorders are involved, hard lines aren’t always the most effective. We can set healthy boundaries AND be there for our loved ones. These two things can exist at the same time. It’s not either/or - in reality, it can be black AND white, like polka dots.

A lot of people feel that their road back to loved ones is closed. I encourage people to maintain a thin thread of connection with their loved one. This way, when they want help, you are there. This thin thread of connection may be the lifeline that keeps the person from drowning in the rapids of substance use disorder. It also lets them know that they still matter, they’re still loved, and they have support when they are ready for help.

Now, I am not saying that you go all in or force yourself upon them—Healthy Boundaries are important! It might be an occasional text saying, “I’m thinking of you,” “I always love you - that never changes,” or “I’m here for you. I just can’t be with you in that way because it’s not healthy for either of us.” Whatever you choose to do, let them know that they matter and the door for support is still open.

'When’ statements” create a balance between establishing a healthy boundary and leaving the door open for a future relationship when they are ready to try a different path. Something like: “When you’re ready for help, I’m here for you.” This allows us to keep a connection intact while at the same time, taking care of ourselves.

People struggling with substance use disorder can forget they are loved and may vilify those around them. It’s hard to hate someone who says, “I love you.”

As long as your loved one is still alive, there’s still hope.

They have the option to make a different choice. Healing is possible when people connect with support that renews hope.

Regardless of where a person is at in their recovery, North Range can provide support. Our counselors are here to help manage challenges that may come while recovering from substance use disorder.

  • Withdrawal Management Support: This short-term stabilization facility is a safe, affordable, and local alternative to a hospital stay, which means they can begin crisis stabilization or withdrawal management treatment while remaining close to home. During the withdrawal process, they receive safe monitoring of withdrawal symptoms and counseling.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): This program offers the use of medication to help relieve cravings in combination with counseling so clients can work towards recovery.
  • Outpatient Support: Healing from substance use disorder includes talking through challenges with a professional, gaining coping skills for life’s stressors, and understanding our triggers, emotions, and needs that support recovery. Outpatient support offers a supported environment for healing through the help of mental health professionals.
  • True North: Sometimes taking care of our mental health requires time to focus on our recovery through intensive residential treatment support.  North Range’s True North program helps people overcome substance use and compounding mental health issues in a short-term residential setting, close to home.
  • Wings Intensive Addiction Services: This intensive family-centered residential treatment facility serves pregnant women and women with children ages 0-5 by helping moms recover from substance use disorder and promoting family health and self-sufficiency.
  • Recovery Communities: North Range offers transitional and ongoing staff-supported recovery-living communities for men, women, and their families who are reintegrating to community life during recovery.

Regardless of where they are at in their recovery journey, we can help. If the need is for the caregiver or family member to have some support and have someone to talk to, we can help there too. Start the journey today by calling 970.347.2120 or visiting

There are resources and supportive tools that function as bridges to help people find their way.

Struggling with Alcohol Use? North Range Can Help.

Visit or call 970.347.2120 to learn more.

Blog Contributor:

Jenny Wallace, LCSW, Clinical Network Director of the Residential Network

More issues of The Hopeful Counselor

Cultivating Youth Resiliency

In the past few years, we have experienced many “once-in-a-lifetime" events that could lead to long-term impacts on our youth’s ability to overcome adversity. Today’s children and adolescents have experienced: The … Read More

Give What You Need the Most

It’s often said that one must give happiness to get happiness. I know this doesn’t sound intuitive, but I have tried, and it works. When you give what you need … Read More