Surviving Pink Cloud: Tips for Staying Sober When the Euphoria Wears Off
Have you experienced what’s known as “the pink cloud”? This term describes a period of happiness and elation that’s often experienced by people in early recovery. How it manifests is different for everyone—some people feel it the moment they make the decision to stay sober, while others are not affected until weeks or months after they put down their substance of choice.
Personally, I didn’t have a pink cloud experience until years after I first tried getting sober, after multiple relapses, when I had all but given up on the idea that recovery could work for me. I have to admit, it was a welcome and wonderful feeling.
Unfortunately, the one thing all pink clouds have in common is the fact that they come to an end. For many people, this sudden sadness and disappointment can throw a big wrench into their recovery program. If you’re coming off a pink cloud and having difficulty coping, here are some tips that might help.
1: Take It One Day at a Time
It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. Just as your euphoria came to an end, so will your despair. The “one day at a time” slogan can be really helpful here, because you can’t go back to how you felt yesterday and you have no way of knowing how you’ll feel tomorrow. The only thing you can do is recognize, accept, and honor how you feel in the present moment.
2: Tell People How You’re Feeling
Sharing your pink cloud experience with another person can be extremely helpful. Most people who are sober have had similar experiences and will be able to offer support and advice. If you’re a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), consider opening up about your feelings in a meeting. In addition to helping relieve your own feelings of sadness and anxiety, you may help someone in the group who is struggling with the same problem.
3: Remember the Last Time You Drank or Used
It can be tempting to give up on your recovery when you hit the end of a pink cloud spell. You may think, “What’s the point of staying sober if I’m not going to feel good every single day?” If this question pops into your head, it can be helpful to remember the last time you used a substance to cope with uncomfortable feelings. Or the last time you woke up with a really bad hangover or embarrassed yourself during a blackout. Do you really feel as bad today as you did back then? In my experience, the answer was usually no. More often than not, my worst days sober were always better than my best days in active addiction.
Unfortunately, life is full of disappointments and even the happiest people have to deal with upsetting and uncomfortable feelings. But take a moment to consider this—do you feel as badly as you did the last time you used substances to cope? If your last drink or drug brought you a place that made you decide to quit,