Two terms you are likely to hear in rehab are ‘top line behaviour’ and ‘bottom line behaviour’. These terms are used when creating your recovery plan and refer to behaviours you need to avoid and the ones you are encouraged to engage in.
What are Bottom Line Behaviours?
Bottom line behaviours refer to all the things you need to avoid if you want to enjoy a better life in sobriety. These are the actions that harm you physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. Your bottom line behaviours are unlikely to be the exact same as those of other people, so you need to figure these out for yourself – in rehab, you will sometimes do this work with a therapist, but it is most commonly done with a 12-step sponsor.
You will have developed addictive patterns during your years of abusing alcohol or drugs, and it is these that are your bottom-line behaviours. You need to spend some time reflecting on your past to identify what these are; it is important to understand that you are looking for patterns of behaviour that clearly bring you back to addiction. Some examples of bottle line behaviour include:
- attempting some controlled drinking
- creating a justification to relapse – for example, deliberately manufacturing an argument with your spouse
- swallowing drink when you know it contains alcohol
- drinking light beers
- using new recreational drugs
- spending time around your drinking friends and regularly going to pubs
- saving up money with the thought of maybe using it later to buy alcohol or drugs.
What are Accessory Behaviours?
Accessory behaviours are similar to bottom line behaviours, but these are the actions that bring you closer to relapse. It is vital that you are aware of these accessory behaviours, so you can spot the signs that your sobriety is in danger. Some of the most common accessory behaviours include:
- romancing the drink or drug (remembering the times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be enjoyable)
- isolating from friends and family
- no longer going to recovery meetings
- becoming cynical about sobriety
- spending increasing amounts of time with people who are cynical about recovery
- sexual misconduct
- defending your previous addictive behaviour
- listening to music because it reminds you of drinking or using drugs
- getting enjoyment from watching others drink or use drugs
- stinking thinking
- behaving as if you were still caught up in addiction (dry drunk syndrome).
What are Top Line Behaviours?
Top line behaviours refer to all of those behaviours that help to keep you sober and improve your life. It is important to understand that a behaviour that others might view as positive is not always a top line behaviour – for example, spending so much time at work that it puts your sobriety at risk would not be considered a top line behaviour. The best top line behaviours for you will depend on your exact needs and temperament, but some of the most common include:
- going to recovery meetings
- speaking regularly with your sponsor
- attending therapy sessions
- relaxation activities such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation
- spiritual practices
- health and wellness activities such as walking, running, cycling, or going to the gym
- eating a healthy diet
- getting enough sleep
- going to a night class
- reading recovery literature
- getting involved with the recovery community
- doing voluntary work
- helping others break free of addiction
- self-development practices.
The Importance of Using Your Recovery Plan
Once you have identified your own top line, accessory, and bottom line behaviours, you can use this information to create your recovery plan. It is worth putting some effort into this plan because it is going to create a solid basis for your sobriety – it is similar to the business plan that all successful companies will have. It is no use creating your recovery plan and putting it in a drawer to be forgotten about; you need to make it a part of your life.