Recovery feels great, and it should.
At some point in everyone’s recovery, we hit our stride. No longer hindered by withdrawal symptoms, we’re making real growth in our therapy sessions, developing great habits, and overcoming real obstacles.
These milestones can make us feel incredible, and there’s a name for those feelings: The Pink Cloud.
We’re in the pink cloud when we jump out of bed in our sober home in the morning eager for our first group session. It’s when we sing along in the van when we’re going to our treatment center. It’s when we beat the chairperson to the microphone at our 12-step meeting.
The pink cloud feels great – it’s a giant emotional high. But like a lot of highs, it can end. Here’s what both sides of the pink cloud feel like, and how to deal with the inevitable low when it happens.
The Upside: Why the Pink Cloud Can Be Helpful in Recovery
If there’s one thing recovery does, it changes our perspectives. Addiction twists the way we view (and interact with) the world around us. It damages relationships, drives away the people who care about us and makes us harm ourselves.
All of this adds up to a lot of traumatic experiences.
Drug and alcohol addiction treatment help us remove the trauma addiction creates. It also helps us lose the false picture of life created by addiction. For many of us, recovery was the first time in a long time we felt good about ourselves, our lives, and our future.
This optimism is the pink cloud. It feels great to be able to experience joy after a long time spent in addiction. The perspective changes the pink cloud lets us see leaves us thinking we can do anything … and that’s a great thing to experience.
The Downside: How the Pink Cloud can Distract Us
While it’s great to feel great in recovery, the pink cloud unfortunately doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the hard work of recovery comes back into view. Recovery, while great, takes time and effort to maintain. Finding healthy ways to cope with changes, making amends for past behavior, and repairing old (and developing new) relationships are all tasks central to recovery.
Once we’re out of the pink cloud, this reality can seem overwhelming. Returning to normal, daily life – finding a job, creating a work schedule, returning to old friends and family – can be daunting indeed early in recovery. It can be intimidating enough that relapse may occur. Remember, most relapses happen during the first 90 days of recovery.
There’s another risk, too – the pink cloud can make us feel overconfident. When you’re experiencing the intense emotional highs in the pink cloud, you might feel like you can conquer the world. Your addiction is beaten; why bother going to meetings or participating in therapy?
This is an obvious if understandable, mistake. Recovery is all about time, and not even the strongest person is able to defeat addiction in
This doesn’t happen to everyone, and we’d never want anyone to feel anything less than great over their recovery. However, there are plenty of ways to leverage the pink cloud to help drive your recovery, even when the pink clouds clear.
Leveraging the Pink Cloud to Further Your Recovery
After that last section, it can be easy to view the pink cloud with suspicion. You shouldn’t – celebrating goals and milestones is part of making recovery successful, effective … and fun.
Instead, here are a few ways to anticipate the inevitable low from the highs of early recovery:
- Keep your goals realistic: The pink cloud can make you feel like you’re ready to climb Mount Everest. All respect for your abilities and drive, but you’re probably not. Instead of focusing on giant, difficult goals, try starting with smaller goals. Practicing meditation, developing a healthy diet or exercise routine, or even sticking to a steady bedtime are all simple (and necessary) goals to pursue early in recovery. Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction isn’t a race. Always feel free to grow at your own pace.
- Focus on the good things: Your pink cloud can drift away, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel down. Those feelings of strength, joy, and accomplishment are yours, and there are ways to hold on to them. Journaling your feelings can act as a jar you pour your pink cloud feelings into. Later in recovery when times might be rough, you can read about how successful you felt. That can be enough to give you enough perspective on your current situation.
- Learn about recovering from addiction: Although everybody’s path to recovery is different, most of us pass through the same milestones and endure the same rough spots. Researching and getting up to speed on the various stages of recovery can help you brace for when you start feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. If you’re at a drug rehab or addiction center, talk to your case manager – they can really help talk you down and give you more strategies you can use. If you’re in a sober home, try engaging with your roommates … or talking to your house manager. Odds are, they’ve been through the same situation as you.
These seem like minor things, but they’re important – they keep you grounded. Don’t overwhelm yourself or beat yourself up if you can’t make the major changes the pink cloud can make you think you can achieve.
Instead, focus on the things in your immediate vicinity you can change. One of the best places you can do this is in a sober living home.
How Sober Living Can Keep You Grounded While in the Pink Cloud
The drug-free environment of sober living houses isn’t just a safeguard against relapse or environmental addiction triggers. It’s also an environment that makes it much easier to keep your mind on personal growth in recovery.
You’re not alone in a sober home. You’re surrounded by like-minded people who share your same goals and intent. You’ve got a house manager with a deep understanding of living in sustained recovery. In short, a sober home is a community that allows you to stay accountable for your own recovery and keeps you grounded and in focus.
Finding a sober home isn’t always easy, however.
Don’t turn the search for a sober home into something that’ll damage your recovery. Register with SoberLivingNearYou.com and find your home today!