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Recognizing / Setting

Your Bottom Line

In recovery from addiction the concept of "setting a bottom line" is a common one. However, it might be more accurate to say that one does not so much set a bottom line as recognize it. A bottom line exists for each person whether he or she acknowledges it or not. It has a life of its own.


It can be useful to break up a "bottom line" into three parts. The table below is available here as a PDF file.


  • Red light behaviors are sexual behaviors that are destructive and addictive, leading to sexual preoccupation and out of control behavior. At minimum they include behaviors where one instance of the behavior could cause drastic consequences (arrest, transmission of HIV, loss of job or primary relationship, etc.) They also include any behavior that “makes you crazy,” i.e., starts an addictive acting-out cycle. These are the behaviors that (for today) you will not do...your bottom line.
  • Yellow light behaviors are those which are questionable or which signal that you are on dangerous ground.
  • Green light behaviors are healthy courtship, dating, and sexual behaviors.


Red Light Behaviors: behaviors you will not do today



Yellow Light Behaviors (two categories):


Boundary Behaviors are behaviors that you cannot do, but which are not drastic enough to reset your sobriety date if you do them. Violating a boundary behavior is a signal that you are on dangerous ground and need to take action.

Caution Behaviors are behaviors that you haven't decided to give up, but which should be monitored to make sure they don't get out of hand. They also include behaviors that you are wondering if you need to stop.


Green Light Behaviors: healthy courtship, dating, and sexual behaviors



On another page list behaviors in each of these categories. For red light and boundary behaviors list preventative measures you can take to avoid them and recovery activities you will do if a slip occurs. Make it a contract with yourself. Examples of recovery activities include going to more meetings for a month...and more meetings if another slip occurs; making 3 program calls a day for a week after a slip, etc.