Does the ‘Pink Cloud’ of New Sobriety Help or Hurt? It’s Complicated
The euphoria of early recovery may be fleeting, but long-lasting balance is the goal. Here's how to keep your head up through the process and handle reality with confidence
Congratulations! You’re finally in recovery and confident about your journey. After what you’ve been through, you may even be downright euphoric about your newfound energy and life of possibility. There’s a name for this particular sensation: the “pink cloud.”
Withdrawal was exhausting, but you’ve made it through, and now you’re seeing the world and your place in it with fresh eyes. It’s looking good; it feels right. It’s all very exciting, like the honeymoon phase of a relationship. Welcome to the beginning of your recovery process.
The good news is you can keep that hopeful outlook, with some work. The “bad” news is, well, life keeps churning, with all its ups and downs. Euphoria is always temporary. So it’s important to equip yourself with the proper treatment and coping methods to tackle any obstacles ahead — to keep your pink cloud from turning gray.
Not everyone gets to experience recovery, and it will not look the same for everyone. To transition from the “pink cloud” stage to a life of durable contentment and peace, here’s what to look out for, plus some coping skills for when reality inevitably throws lemons your way.
How Pink-Clouding Is Helpful
If you’re in recovery from addiction, it won’t come as a shocker that life can be a grind. Addiction causes distress in your personal life and relationships, which limits your ability to find enjoyment in life. And that may be an understatement.
But the pink cloud can give you a change of perspective and attitude, which might be the little extra kick you need to keep moving forward with your recovery. It’s a positive, optimistic mentality! Can’t knock that.
During this time, you may get in touch with your emotions and begin to feel things you have not felt for a long time. This experience is exciting, hopeful and empowering, which likely feels pretty encouraging if you thought those emotions were long gone.
You may not notice when the pink cloud stage starts or ends, as it varies by person. Some people expect and experience it, while others simply don’t.
How Pink-Clouding Is Dangerous
The euphoria of the pink cloud can make you think you’re on top of the world. There is no set time frame for this feeling; however, it does end at some point. When it does, you may face new or familiar stressors of your reality.
How To Protect Your Recovery From a Heady Case of Pink Cloud
The pink-cloud experience can give you unrealistic expectations for your recovery. Recovery is change, and change is hard, or at least unfamiliar. However, you can protect your sobriety from the setbacks and frustrations that intrude on everyone from time to time.
1) Embrace Your Reality
Everyone’s reality looks different in recovery. You may face emotions you thought you buried that you’ll struggle to navigate. You’ll certainly face challenges in general.
Make an action plan to engage in sober life purposefully, intentionally and realistically. Being optimistic is good, but keep your head. If you’re feeling like you can practically fly, ground yourself so you don’t increase the risk of relapse by thinking you can handle situations you may not be ready for.
2) Find Balance
Imagine a balance beam. Consider all the hard work it takes to stay upright on that little thing, and the daily discipline and practice it takes to walk it flawlessly. We’ll say it again: Recovery also requires work, sometimes a lot. Balance requires work. But when you can achieve that balance in your everyday life, you will find recovery comes easier as the days pass.
When you do find balance, your expectations and reality will settle into harmony (or close enough). Addiction treatment can give you the tools to get the most out of your recovery, but you need to put them to use and make adjustments when maintaining sober life requires it.
3) Create a Schedule
Having a schedule can guide you in creating balance in your life. You can pencil in the people you want to spend time with and the activities you want to engage in. A schedule helps you to create goals and strategies, prioritize what is most meaningful, and set a healthy routine.
You’ll increase your productivity and complete those goals. That feeling of accomplishment? It’s real, and it’s replicable.
4) Go to Counseling
You’ve gained awareness about your addiction and are ready to talk to a professional. Give strong consideration to counseling or therapy, tools that can help guide you through the highs and lows of life. Counselors can play a critical role in your recovery by meeting you where you’re at without judgment.
5) Practice Gratitude
6) Find Positive Supports
You’re learning new ways to function with newfound freedom and are ready for the next step. A positive support system will be the glue that holds you fast to joy while keeping you grounded and accountable within recovery. Start by writing out a list of people who impact your life positively — friends, family, recovery professionals — and try cultivating connections with like-minded people in recovery.
Think about the pink cloud this way: Eventually your new life just becomes your life. Isn’t that what recovery is all about?
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