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The pink cloud or pink cloud syndrome generally refers to a return of emotions after an addict or alcoholic stops using or feeling as though we are high on life. Typically, the pink cloud refers to feelings of joy and elation after a person begins a 12-step program. The newly sober person, begins to feel a level of hope they haven’t experienced for years. The sun starts to shine again, and the world seems suddenly much brighter and much more positive. A person floating on a pink cloud often feels above it all. We may imagine that we are suddenly untouchable. The feelings associated with the pink cloud can often lead to unmanageability in recovery.
Often when an addict or alcoholic makes the initial surrender to a program of recovery, we may at first find ourselves dealing with numerous difficulties. The desire to use is at its strongest. Every day is a battle to stick and stay with our program. However, after the initial surrender, many addicts and alcoholics find ourselves suddenly experiencing happiness in abundance, we begin getting things back in our lives such as cars, jobs, and apartments. Addicts and alcoholics often do not have many material possessions and have lost the trust of our friends and families. It’s perfectly normal that as all the things we have lost, or have never had, come into our lives in early recovery, addicts and alcoholics feel overjoyed by everything we are gaining.
Those successes are the first gifts of recovery, but we can also be perceived as the tools that feed into the disease that alcoholics and addicts suffer from. There is an idea that rides on the tide of newfound success, people in early recovery often begin to imagine that we have a handle on our disease. This is the danger of the pink cloud. Many alcoholics and addicts in with long term recovery warn newcomers about the pink cloud, because it is dangerous to imagine that getting and staying clean and sober is easy, or that a person early in recovery doesn’t need help.
The Dangers of the Pink Cloud
Many addicts and alcoholics experiencing the pink cloud imagine that we have a handle on our disease. Many alcoholics and addicts imagine that we are in place where we can step away from our program of recovery. This is an especially dangerous belief for addicts and alcoholics, because we are now following only our own guidance. The disease is insidious. It plays on the desires of addicts and alcoholics, who want to lead normal, happy, and productive lives, it convinces us that going to meetings, and putting in the work that programs of recovery require, is in fact hindering us from living our lives to the best of our ability.
Addicts and alcoholics, who have just gained a small measure of social acceptability feel as though our recovery is invulnerable. We think the worst is now over. Influenced by the pink cloud people in early recovery begin to wonder if we even really had an issue with alcohol and/or drugs. This becomes increasingly dangerous for our recovery. Because now the person in early recovery is high on life and under the influence of the pink cloud. We may begin to think that maybe we can use another substance successfully. Or perhaps we think we can just have a few drinks after work. Relapse is often an inevitable event for the addict and alcoholic, who stops working a program of recovery.
Does the Pink Cloud Always Lead to Relapse
Not everyone in recovery finds ourselves floating on a pink cloud. It is not necessary to experience the pink cloud to find long term sobriety. It is also not necessary for addicts and alcoholics to relapse because of the pink cloud. Many individuals experience that elation. We take on the positive outlook that recovery has offered us. Rather than slipping into unmanageability and eventual relapse, we dig deeper into our recovery. Some addicts and alcoholics feel that elation as we begin to receive our first gifts recovery. And we don’t float off on a pink cloud. We continue to work our program of recovery to the best of our ability. Because we know more gifts will follow.
Experiencing the pink cloud in recovery, does not mean that relapse is inevitable. It simply means that because emotions have returned to the addict or alcoholic, we feel happiness more intensely. After having been numb for an extended period, we are now able to genuinely smile again. Addicts and alcoholics do have to be wary of the pink cloud, because we have an incurable disease. As long as we continue down our path of recovery, we will continue to experience everything this process has to offer. The key to surviving the pink cloud, is to be aware that the happiness that you are experiencing has only come because of being in recovery. And we have to remember that the only way to find continued happiness is to continue working toward long term recovery. We can also try to practice gratitude and be thankful for our recovery.
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