Many people suffering from addictions are known to live in high extremes when they are using. This tendency often remains in progression after they become clean or sober. Thus, many people in early recovery go through a phase of extra-heightened happiness and excitement that often even creates euphoria about their newfound life in recovery. This phase in recovery is often referred to as the Pink Cloud.
The Pink Cloud often affects new people in recovery who are experiencing excessively optimistic outlook on their life and recovery itself. It almost seems like they are untouchable by anything negative and they seem to be wearing a pair of “rose-colored” glasses. Yet we all know that early recovery is quite difficult and it often throws many challenges our way as well as a rollercoaster of emotions that at times may be hard to manage.
There is much to learn about yourself once you decide to stop drinking and the good news is that most of it is positive. However, for many of us, a life spent in addiction means that we may not have a place to live, or a job, or any real means to provide for ourselves once we enter recovery. Therefore, this dramatic contrast of feeling that everything is just “perfect” may be dangerous at this time. These feelings may manifest themselves as a coping mechanism to protect the newcomer from the often-harsh reality of early recovery.
The Pink Cloud feeling is not an undesirable experience itself; on the contrary, it is quite pleasurable. For many in recovery, it is such a great relief to be finally free of the destructive cycle of addiction, that nothing seems better at this time. In addition, after years of numbness, the emotions become alive once again, and life can feel wonderful. These are all emotions that the individual in recovery deserves to feel and experience for as long as possible. However, the concern is that it can become out of hand – people can become too high, and lose sight of what is important. The person can feel so confident that they become complacent about their recovery. There is also the risk that once the emotions stabilize, feelings of disappointment may be overpowering.
While being clean and sober is an exceptional accomplishment, it is important to stay on track with the recovery plan. People who experience the Pink Cloud period, feel temporarily great, but there are dangers to this overwhelming euphoria so it may be especially important to stay connected with your support network, continue working through the recovery process, and be aware of these three points:
- Pink Cloud feelings will not last forever and a sudden return to the reality might be quite devastating.
- Overconfidence may cause complacency about recovery, which then can lead to the risk of relapse.
- Ignoring life’s problems during this time will not make them go away, they will only surface later and seem bigger than before.
For those of us who have experienced recovery from addiction and have not experienced the Pink Cloud, it does not mean that we are doing recovery wrong, or that we are not exceptionally excited about our new life. It just means that our journey is a bit different. Therefore, when we see a newcomer in the Pink Cloud stage, we can be supportive and encouraging of their progress and offer hope and inspiration. At the same time, we may be in a good place to help the newcomer to beware of the Pink Cloud euphoria, which may be short-lived and painful once it ends. It is important to encourage the newly sober person to stay on track and work the program of recovery.
The ultimate problem with Pink Cloud is not the exceptional high that can be experienced early in the process, but it is the risk and fallout of not staying on track with the process to maintain sobriety. The great delights in early recovery are there to be enjoyed and cherished as much as possible when we stop drinking, as long as we also keep our focus on the recovery process itself.
Have you experienced the Pink Cloud phase in recovery? We would love to hear about it!
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).