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July 22, 2022

The Pink Cloud: What Is It and How Long Does It Last?

It's a tricky proposition, trying to recover from alcohol addiction. What most addiction sufferers fail to understand is substance addictions are diseases.

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July 22, 2022

It's a tricky proposition, trying to recover from alcohol addiction. What most addiction sufferers fail to understand is substance addictions are diseases. Worst than being diseases, they are diseases that can never be cured. In other words, addiction sufferers can hope to establish sobriety, but the disease will live on in their minds and body. These horrible diseases are more than happy to lay in wake, waiting for the opportunity to strike again.

Because drug/alcohol addictions are such serious issues, people who make it through treatment on the way to recovery have reason to be proud. However, they also need to be cautious about the future. One thing they need to be wary of is something the addiction treatment community refers to as the "Pink Cloud" or Pink Cloud Syndrone. Let's take a look at this phenomenon.

What is the Pink Cloud?

In the early part of recovery, a lot of addiction sufferers begin feeling better about themselves. As their confidence builds that they can "lick" their addictions, they tend to develop a very positive outlook on life. They feel certain they can make it and really put forth an effort to beat their addiction in rehab and on the outside by participating in meetings.

This euphoria is often referred to as Pink Clouding. To better understand this phenomenon, let's take a look at ways people show this euphoria:

  • They have a hopeful outlook about the future
  • They seem at peace with themselves despite their recent behavior issues
  • Exhibit gung-ho enthusiasm about participating in recovery related programs (AA, NA, etc.)
  • Make great efforts to change their lifestyles
  • They tend to have a higher level of self-awareness
  • They tend to neglect doing the really hard work to stay sober

The last item on this might appear to be out of place. In fact, it serves as the "weak link" in the Pink Cloud Syndrome.

When Does the Pink Cloud Start and End?

It's really difficult to assign a stated timeframe for the Pink Cloud. The reality is each and every person in recovery is subject to experiencing the Pink Cloud in a very different way. Still, we want to give you some point of reference, so we offer these generalities.

For some people, the Pink Cloud will start after clearing their withdrawal symptoms. They really feel good about getting the "monkey off their back." With that said, most people who end up Pink Clouiding will start doing so within weeks of completing their stint in rehab.

When does it end? First, it will eventually end most of the time. For some people, it might only last a few weeks before the reality of who they really are sets in. The rest of the individuals will usually fall out of the Pick Cloud within a few months.

What Causes the Dissipation of Pink Cloud Syndrome?

As we insinuated above, Pink Clouders will eventually have to face reality. What brings them back to earth can vary a great deal from one person to the next. Here are a few of things that cause the Pink Cloud to Dissapate:

  • Problems in the family (marriage, relationships, kids)
  • Going back to work
  • Dealing with financial issues
  • Maintaining a busy schedule that includes having to attend 12-Step programs and or therapy
  • Tragic events and natural disasters

If you look closely at this list, you will note that every item refers to getting back to living a normal life. That's when people start to see the realities of their life through the cloud.

How to Keep From Crashing Back to Earth After Experiencing the Pink Cloud

We address this subject matter, not as a warning that something bad is going to happen when the Pink Cloud ends. Yes, sometimes, people do experience a crash of sorts. Yes, doing so can serve as a trigger for heading right back into addictive behavior. However, it doesn't have to be that way after your addiction recovery.

An informed person will recognize they are Pink Clouding while understanding it won't last. This recognition gives them a unique window of opportunity to start making really significant and lasting changes in their lives. It might work something like this.

While they have such great enthusiasm for the recovery process, they can start to create a safe world in which they will be more capable of coping with temptation and triggers. This might include establishing a strong presence in 12-Step programs or working hard to surround themselves with the support resources they will need in the future such as loved ones or peer support.

To be successful in this endeavor, they have to be willing to accept that their feelings of euphoria will dissipate. Furthermore, they have to be prepared to accept the fact they will still have a serious disease that is going to require constant attention throughout the rest of their lives after that natural high wears off. The recovery journey never ends. Which means relapse prevention is necessary for recovering addicts. Recourses such as support groups, manageable goals, medical advice, coping skills, aftercare, and peer support are such an integral part of successful recovery.

Let us put it this way. Navigating through the Pink Cloud into reality requires that people in recovery have balance in their lives. It's great they might feel confident and proud about recovery. At the same time, they can't afford to think they have arrived in the "promised land" with overconfidence where addiction will never again be an issue. Unrealistic expectations during the ‘pink cloud phase’ can cause the following stages of recovery to feel unbearable, which can trigger relapse that jeopardizes long-term recovery.

At Hollywood Hills Recovery, we see our clients go through the Pink Cloud process time and again. We offer this advice. You should always remain diligent about recovery. Should you fall, our doors are always open to help you get back on track.

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