Anyone who has attended a 12 step meeting knows about Pink Cloud Syndrome. A term coined by Alcoholics Anonymous to characterize people in early recovery when they are feeling on top of the world. This term is utilized to actually alert the recovering individual. The pink cloud is a state of mind that makes many in early recovery feel that they are forever released from substance dependence. Though it feels fabulous, it won’t last long. However, knowing that such a thing even exists and is a common phenomenon will help folks plan a solid strategy when reality threatens to uproot all the hard work they put in.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating recovery and the happiness and freedom that comes with it. Being happy about being clean and sober is a good thing, but one must remember that recovery is a lifelong commitment. The pink cloud will be lifted sooner or later just like the “honeymoon” phase of a marriage. After that phase, for some, It will take a while to sort out and understand what the “real life” feels like, and that it comes with good and bad days.
Below are a few tips for managing the Pink Cloud Syndrome and preparing for “real life after detox”, and possibly avoid problems.
Appreciate balance. Emotionally and chemically dependent people dwell on the edges of life. Learn how to move toward the middle, not needing extreme emotions and circumstances to feel “okay.”
Avoid tempting locations. Don’t go to or even drive by locations where you abused alcohol or drugs. Find new “sober places” for meals and entertainment.
Change old routines. Alter your daily routine and schedule so you don’t replicate how you behaved while using. This helps reduce the desire to go back to using and consequently relapse.
Cultivate a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and eat healthy food. Honor your physical body the way it deserves to be honored.
Escape the “just a little bit” rationale. When you’re in the pink cloud, you might think you can handle anything, even just “a bit” of alcohol or one pill. Even a tiny amount can send you into relapse, even though you feel you’re in control.
Learn from post-cloud folks. Talk to others who sat on the pink cloud. What was their experience? What is their advice? Did they visit the pink cloud more than once? What happened? What should you learn to avoid?
Minimize your triggers. Conflict, eating poorly, physical and emotional pain, sleeplessness, worry, and other negative events and emotions can sabotage sobriety. Develop ways to head off or diminish your triggers to use. Work your 12-Step program.
Reconsider your friends. You can not hang out with friends who are still using. They will tempt you. Stretch yourself and make new friends with sober people or increase your time with sober family members and existing sober friends.
Stick with your recovery group. Spending time with people going through what you’re going through will boost your sense of acceptance, belonging, and encouragement. These colleagues will help you keep on staying on your path to sobriety.
Recovering individuals must be always vigilant and remember that they can spend years in recovery and have a relapse that can cost them their lives. One of the most notable cases is about the famous late actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who after two decades of sobriety relapsed and fatally overdosed.
Florida Center for Recovery
Clinical Excellence & Compassionate Care in a Healing Environment
If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs and alcohol, Florida Center for Recovery offers specialized professional treatment.
For more information regarding treatment for individuals struggling with addiction and related mental health conditions, contact us at (800) 851-3291. You may also visit our addiction treatment programs’ page for a better insight into our diverse comprehensive therapies.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.