Anyone recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction knows recovery is hard work. You have to stay focused and safeguard your sobriety every day. Learning about pink cloud syndrome and its emotional rollercoaster is key to preventing relapse.
What Is the Pink Cloud Syndrome?
The term “pink cloud” was coined in Alcoholics Anonymous by members who were trying to describe the feelings of exhilaration and euphoria in early recovery. Since then, people in addiction recovery have come to talk about “pink cloud syndrome” as the state in which an individual going through addiction treatment feels “high” on life and overly confident in their ability to remain sober.
While these good feelings can be enjoyed, they can also lead to complacency; the person starts to think that recovery is easy and that they will always feel the same level of happiness and confidence. When the pink cloud feelings inevitably fade away, the person may cope poorly with the loss and become vulnerable to relapse.
How Do I Recognize Pink Clouding?
Pink cloud syndrome often begins after detox and withdrawal symptoms have ended. In this early stage of recovery, you may feel really great–physically, mentally, and emotionally. You look forward to each day and all the wonderful things that a sober life holds for you. You may become overconfident in your ability to maintain sobriety and impatient with doing the necessary work (attending therapy, practicing self-care, meeting with a support group, etc.).
Or, you may become so eager to make positive changes to your life that you want to change everything immediately. This leads to a lack of focus as you try to take on too much.
Am I Feeling Real Happiness?
It is important to remember it is normal to feel good about your recovery. The hopeful feelings show that your recovery is working. But it takes time after active addiction to develop emotional awareness and intelligence. Addiction is a way of pushing emotions aside; after years of ignoring emotional cues, it will take practice to be aware of emotions and to know how to deal with them in a healthy way.
Being genuinely happy promotes daily gratitude and mindfulness. It boosts your self-esteem and fosters trust in others. Someone who is truly happy understands that happiness does not depend on outside circumstances; it comes from within.
The feelings of happiness that occur with pink cloud syndrome are characterized by overconfidence, denial, impulsiveness, and arrogance. These hyped-up feelings of euphoria lead to having unrealistic expectations about recovery and making unrealistic commitments.
How Long Does Pink Cloud Syndrome Last?
Pink cloud syndrome has no definitive timeline. Each person experiences it differently. Some people may feel the effects of pink clouding within the first few days of recovery, while others may not feel its effects for a few weeks. How long each person floats on the pink cloud also differs from one person to another. For some people, it may be only a few days. Others may feel the effects of riding the cloud for a few weeks or months. Some individuals may even experience pink clouding at various times throughout their recovery. In each case, the emotional state of the individual changes as the effects of the syndrome fades away.
Pink Cloud Syndrome: Both Good & Bad
If you are prepared for pink cloud syndrome and know what to expect during this phase of recovery, you can use it to your advantage. The pink cloud can provide:
- A new perspective on life
- A chance to get back in touch with your emotions
- An opportunity to rebuild relationships
- The motivation to move forward with recovery
The newfound feelings of happiness and enthusiasm for living a sober life can get your recovery off to a strong start. You may be able to use this time to motivate lasting positive change.
The key is to remember that the feelings will be short-lived. Emotions ebb and flow, circumstances change, nothing is permanent. Getting too attached to the good feelings will make it difficult to weather the bad. Sometimes people relapse when the good feelings go away. Others relapse because they feel so good that they think they can use substances again and keep it under control.
Knowing what to expect of the pink cloud will help you benefit from the excitement of it without getting attached to it. You’ll know that you need to keep doing the work of recovery no matter how good or how bad you’re feeling.
Do You Need Help?
Addiction can affect anyone. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, help is available. Call and speak to a caring professional at Anabranch Recovery Center located in Terre Haute, Indiana. We can help you learn how to navigate life’s ups and downs in a healthy way that will not compromise your sobriety. Now is the time to begin your journey on the path to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.