Many people who have gone through detox and rehab experience feelings of intense euphoria in the early days of their recovery journey. This is wholly understandable. After all, a person who is newly out from under the influence of drugs or alcohol use has plenty of reasons to celebrate. When we reach significant milestones, it is only natural to experience feelings of happiness and contentment. What could possibly be wrong with that?
The Pink Cloud
That is a fair question and one that applies to a phenomenon that many in recovery call the “pink cloud.” The pink cloud refers to that euphoric feeling some people experience in the early stages of recovery. It might be thought of as a natural high—a high achieved without resorting to drugs or alcohol—that comes with wonderful feelings of hope and confidence.
But when the pink cloud dissipates–as it surely will–it can leave a sense of loss and confusion that may well lead a person to start using again.
Keeping the Pink Cloud in Perspective
We don’t mean to suggest that people should try to avoid, prevent, or end their positive feelings. The key is to keep the pink cloud in perspective and to be prepared for its effects:
- The pink cloud makes recovery seem easy–so easy, in fact, that a person may be much less vigilant about avoiding triggers or maintaining healthy habits that support recovery.
- The pink cloud may also cause a person to put off addressing some of the underlying problems that may have led to their substance use disorder in the first place. For example, relationships may need mending (or ending, if they are toxic in one way or another). Adjustments might need to be made at work to address high levels of stress or to avoid tempting situations. Or perhaps your substance use has created financial challenges that need your immediate attention. If the feelings associated with the pink cloud cause you to ignore these sorts of pressing issues, they may be doing you significantly more harm than good.
- When the pink cloud fades, its absence can leave a person with intense feelings of disappointment, hopelessness, or depression. The loss of confidence and the return of cravings can make a person feel like they have failed. The desire to escape negative feelings or a sense of failure can lead to relapse.
The Clouds Are Going to Come and Go
The pink cloud experience can come and go. Sometimes maintaining your recovery might seem as simple as can be and other times it may seem simply impossible. That is just the nature of recovery—and really, of life in general.
To handle the changes in your personal weather, form healthy habits that will support your sobriety regardless of how you are feeling on any given day. Build a strong support system. Attend 12-Step meetings. Eat well and get enough sleep and exercise. Find a hobby you enjoy. Practice mindfulness and adopt a spirit of gratefulness. Be gentle with yourself.
There Is Plenty of Sunshine at Bel Aire Recovery Center
The world is a dark and gloomy place for those who are struggling to overcome a substance use disorder. But with personalized, compassionate care—like the care available from Bel Aire Recovery Center—you can find your way back to a life filled with sunshine. We can’t keep the clouds from rolling in and out of your personal sky, but we can help you prepare for any kind of internal weather so that you can maintain your sobriety even on the stormiest of days.