What is The “Pink Cloud” in Recovery?
Addiction is a painful and devastating disease that can cause a lot of pain, grief, and resentment for both the person abusing substances and his or her family. If addiction has affected you personally, you know just how harmful this disease can be. And, even though recovery is always better than addiction, there will be good days and bad days in recovery. The important part is learning how to cope with both the good and the bad.
Some people who are in early recovery, however, experience way more natural highs than they do lows. They may even experience a period of euphoria and elation for several months after they first get sober. If this sounds like you, you may be experiencing a phenomenon commonly known in the recovery community as the “pink cloud.”
What Does The “Pink Cloud” Refer to in Recovery?
The pink cloud is to recovery what the “honeymoon phase” is to a new relationship – it is a short-lived period of time where you may feel confident, happy, and even successful in your newfound life in sobriety. It is a time when recovery is still fresh, new, and exciting.
The pink cloud can also be described as the result of the fog being lifted after years of drug and alcohol abuse clouding the mind. In other words, this means you may finally have a clear and level-headed mindset after years of instability and chaos. When you can understand life clearly and enjoy your day-to-day activities without the crutch of drugs or alcohol, you can be said to be on the pink cloud.
It’s important to point out that the pink cloud is not a formal medical term or a diagnosis. It is simply a term coined by the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to help describe feelings of joy and giddiness in early sobriety.
The Pros and Cons of The Pink Cloud
The pink cloud phase sounds wonderful, and it can feel great for those experiencing it. However, this feeling isn’t all positive and many people in recovery are highly aware of the potential dangers of this feeling.
Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of the pink cloud in recovery.
Nobody wants to feel sad, depressed, or anxious. It can be extremely fulfilling to be able to find joy and excitement out of the little things in life. As a result, the pink cloud can help improve your self-esteem, give you hope for the future, and help you come out on the other side of a dark past. It can also improve your self-confidence by making you feel as though you can do anything or motivate you to continue working towards growth.
While the pink cloud sounds great, there are some definite drawbacks to this mindset. The first is that it can create unrealistic expectations about recovery.
Even though feeling happiness and joy isn’t bad, it is unrealistic to expect to feel this way all the time. A sober life will still have difficulties and struggles, and it is naive to think that all of your problems will go away after you get sober.
Another danger of the pink cloud is that it can give people a false sense of confidence and security. You may think you don’t need to go to a meeting or call your sponsor because you feel great and aren’t craving a drink. But, this could change quickly, and if you let your guard down and aren’t prepared, you could easily relapse after the pink cloud wears off.
Lastly, since the pink cloud can give you a false sense of what recovery is all about, you may feel extreme disappointment when the feeling fades away. When this natural high wears off, you may struggle to stay sober without the proper support.
How Long Does The Pink Cloud Usually Last in Recovery?
In an ideal world, you would remain feeling positive, happy, and joyful on a day-to-day basis while living your sober life. However, this simply isn’t realistic. Just because you have put down the drugs and alcohol doesn’t mean you won’t have obstacles to overcome.
For some people, the pink cloud only lasts for the first few weeks of their recovery. But, for others, this period could last several months. There is no way to say exactly how long the pink cloud phase will last because it is unique to every person – and not everyone experiences the pink cloud in their sobriety. In fact, some experience the opposite, and struggle with depression.
If you do experience the pink cloud, it’s important to remember that the way you are feeling may not be permanent. And, as a result, you need to be prepared with how to cope for when those feelings of elation begin to wear off.
Tips to Protect Your Recovery After The Pink Cloud Wears Off
If you aren’t proactive about treating your addiction and participating in your recovery, you could easily succumb to the aftermath of the pink cloud and end up returning to substance abuse. The best way to avoid relapse and to protect your recovery is to continue participating in an aftercare plan after treatment.
After rehab, these suggestions can help you stay sober after rehab:
- Participate in a continuum of care involving IOP, OP, sober living, and/or an alumni group
- Maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise
- Live in a stable and drug-free environment
- Develop a peer support group
- Attend local recovery or 12-step meetings in your community
- Continue going to individual counseling sessions
By practicing these relapse prevention tools before the pink cloud wears off, you can be prepared to protect your recovery for years to come.
Find Help for Addiction Today
Asking for help and going to treatment is the first step of the recovery process. You’ll never reach or overcome the pink cloud if you don’t start there. At PAX Memphis Recovery Center, we are here to help you begin your recovery journey with evidence-based treatment and individualized care. Whether you’re just getting sober or you need follow-up care, pick up the phone and contact one of our dedicated treatment specialists today.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.