The Pink Cloud
When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, recovery is hard work. This is especially true in the early stages. For many, it is a daily struggle to stay focused on their recovery plan. They must actively use the strategies and skills they learned during treatment to stay sober while coping with their cravings and relapse triggers.
However, for others, early recovery is filled with feelings of euphoria, excitement, and elation at the thought of being addiction-free. These individuals are often overly confident in their ability to stay sober, and they have an excessively positive outlook.
This early recovery “high” is called the pink cloud. Originating in AA, the concept of pink cloud syndrome refers to the extreme high-on-life feeling that can come after detox. Pink cloud syndrome is dangerous because it leads people to think recovery is easy.
How Long Does It Last?
The pink cloud, sometimes referred to as the honeymoon phase of sobriety, is an individual process and can last from a few days to a few weeks or months, depending on the person. Some people say they experience the pink cloud at different times throughout their recovery.
Signs of Pink Cloud Syndrome
Feeling good about your recovery is positive and normal. It is an indication that your recovery is working. When you are suffering from a substance use disorder, emotions are numbed by drugs or alcohol. Regaining normal feelings can often feel like a high after living in a depressed state during addiction. It takes time to understand what normal emotions feel like.
Genuine happiness boosts self-esteem and fosters daily gratitude and trust in others. By contrast, pink cloud syndrome fosters denial, overconfidence, and dependence on the feeling of euphoria. Those with Pink Cloud Syndrome demonstrate:
- Unrealistic commitments
- Unrealistic expectations
Why the Pink Cloud is Dangerous
Being on the pink cloud detaches a person from reality. False confidence and euphoria can cause people to stop going to continuing care, recovery groups, or 12-step meetings. Those in the pink cloud believe they can stay sober alone.
While independence may work for awhile, eventually reality will come crashing in; without a support system in place, it will be much harder to manage triggers, cravings, and temptations. Relapse will become more likely.
Additional dangers caused by the unrealistic feelings of Pink Cloud Syndrome include:
- Not staying focused on the long-term aspects of recovery
- Not remembering or trying to work through the devastation and pain caused by addiction
- Ignoring real-life challenges and difficult circumstances
- Great disappointment when the pink cloud wears off, often leading to depression, hopelessness, and discouragement
How to Survive the Pink Cloud
Pink Cloud Syndrome does not have to lead to relapse. The key is to know that you will likely experience it and have a plan to deal with it. Your plan may include the following commitments:
- Even if you don’t feel like it, attend your continuing care, recovery groups, and 12-step meetings.
- Be aware of the three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical.
- Practice mindfulness to stay aware of your actions, thoughts, and feelings.
- Ask for help when you face challenges, even if they’re unrelated to recovery.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices, including getting enough sleep, eating a healthy nutritious diet, and exercising every day.
- Avoid tempting locations and find new, sober places you enjoy.
- Remain realistic. Life will still have its ups and downs, even in recovery.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is help available. Take the first step on the road to recovery. Call and speak to a caring professional at Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona.