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What is the Pink Cloud of Recovery?

by Will Long

July 6, 2022

The Pink Cloud of Recovery

Life in early recovery after you stop using substances can feel exciting and good. But if we’re honest with ourselves, this is most often a deceptive sense of perfect happiness that can leave you disappointed and wishing you had something more emotionally fulfilling when things start to work against you, or life just simply goes back to normal. This deceptive happiness is what we call the “pink cloud of recovery.”

What Is the “Pink Cloud,” Exactly?

First introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous, the pink cloud of recovery is the euphoric feeling of accomplishment that people experience early in recovery after they stop using a substance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having this feeling and living in the “pink cloud.” Just know that this stage of recovery is temporary. 

One way to know you’re in the pink cloud is if you’re elated, feel better than you ever have, and generally have an artificially elevated view of your personal surroundings. Coming down from the pink cloud can often mean feeling negatively about your situation in comparison to the high of the pink cloud, which can cause negative effects, such as a relapse if you’re not careful. You may also be overlooking the hard work it takes to maintain long term recovery.

The Deception of False Positivity

When your body goes through detox and you’ve abstained from using substances for several months, you can start to feel good. This great feeling of life satisfaction and happiness can hit you like a brick, but for most of those who get the “pink cloud,” it’s deceptively positive.

Setting realistic expectations in early recovery is incredibly important for keeping your eyes on the forever prize: long term recovery. If we understand and know, even when the pink cloud strikes, that we still have everyday life to deal with, then we won’t get blindsided by the long fall back to an emotional and physiological baseline. Landmark Recovery’s programs help patients mentally construct a model of how their recovery will work in the short and long term so a crash from the pink cloud won’t be something that throws a wrench in your spokes.

Preparing For the Inevitable

One way to make sure the pink cloud isn’t for naught is to use it as an opportunity to bring healthy habits into your life when your mind is at the optimal state to build those habits. Practicing some baseline level of self-care like eating well, getting the sleep you need, and exercising when in the pink cloud is important to maintaining your progress. Preparing for the inevitable valley after the peaks can give you a leg up in the battle for your own future. Enrolling in some kind of therapy to help maintain your recovery is a great idea, as it gives you an excuse to discuss your concerns and issues with a professional who can help you work through them any time you need.

Read about the signs of addiction.

Those in recovery may have avoided a potential disaster in the short term, but when the cravings hit after the initial period of great life satisfaction, you must be ready. The last thing anyone wants to happen is to have the post-pink cloud crash lead to a relapse. With the right tools like the ones we’ve presented here, you can win. 

Learn More About Addiction

To learn more about how Landmark Recovery can actively help you avoid the pink cloud high and make sure your expectations for recovery are both realistic and long-term, give us a call at 888-448-0302 today. Our mission is to save one million lives in the next century, starting with you.

About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Will has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. Will specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective.

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