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What is the Pink Cloud?

The pink cloud is the euphoric feeling some people experience early in recovery. If addiction has been making you miserable for a while, those early steps toward taking your life back can be exhilarating. You will probably feel pretty good those first days waking up without a hangover or fear of withdrawal. You may be enjoying the cautious pride of loved ones who finally see you taking some positive steps. You may feel like someone is really listening to you for the first time in your life when you meet with your therapist or share at 12-step meetings. Most importantly, you may finally see the possibility of a better future for yourself.

The pink cloud can be a bit ephemeral. People who experience the pink cloud usually feel it for several months or maybe a year. People who have been sober for a while, especially people in AA, tend to be a bit cynical about the pink cloud. They consider people experiencing the pink cloud to be a bit delusional and in for a rude awakening when it inevitably wears off.

It’s true the pink cloud will eventually wear off, and there may be some dangers associated with it. If you’ve been feeling great and suddenly a difficult experience throws you off balance, it can be a greater shock than if you were just muddling along. Also, some people fear the pink cloud can make you complacent. You feel like you’ve beaten addiction and you no longer have to work so hard to stay sober. Complacency can certainly be dangerous.

Despite that, the pink cloud isn’t such a bad thing. Admitting a problem, seeking treatment, detoxing, and staying sober for any length of time are all hard and if you’ve gotten that far, you should feel good about it. Also, sobriety does actually improve your life in meaningful ways pretty quickly. No more hangovers, no more fear of withdrawal, lots more time and money, and making new friends actually do make life better. It’s good to acknowledge the early fruits of sobriety and let them encourage you to keep going.

The bottom line is that whatever you’re feeling right now will change sooner or later. Assuming the pink cloud will last forever will set you up for disappointment, but biting your nails while you wait for it to disperse–or possibly rain on you–will only make you anxious. If you’re experiencing the pink cloud, embrace it, but also keep doing the things that got you there. The feeling ends when it ends, but if you have a solid foundation, you’ll be just fine.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Awakenings Recovery Program can help.

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