Pink Cloud Syndrome: The Dangerous Euphoria Following Recovery
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The pink cloud is a phenomenon that’s common among people in their early recovery (observed for the first time in AA members), which has helped many continue through the skies of sobriety.
The pink cloud can carry an addict on the wings of joy. Many users admit that this feeling of excitement has given them hope after the pain and the struggles their addiction has brought into their lives. But it can also cause dangerous overconfidence that can lead to a relapse.
What is the Pink Cloud Syndrome?
In addiction recovery, the “pink cloud” is a term used to describe a high-on-life feeling in one’s journey to recovery. The Pink Cloud Syndrome is a curious but often short-lived phenomenon. Many people, after detoxing, feel too good about their recovery, as they’re finally able to see the real world behind a curtain of pills, drinks, and needles.
How dangerous is the Pink Cloud Syndrome for addiction recovery?
In recovery, pink clouds are common phenomena, but can provide unrealistic expectations. While the feelings of happiness may bring hope to people, they have a dark side, in that the feelings can be self-effected mechanisms that stop people from seeing their real problems. Those delusions can bring over-confidence and disappointment, which can lead back to relapse.
The Pink Cloud Of Happiness
The pink cloud in addiction is a term used to describe a curious but short-lived phenomenon in one’s recovery odyssey. It means to be high on life. Many people after detox feel too good about their recovery as they’re finally able to see the real world.
The Dark Side Of The Pink Clouds
Although being positive is a good feeling during recovery, the Pink Cloud Syndrome in addiction is used mainly as a negative term. Many people who are trying to stay clean are exposed to various extremes. Life is never fine for an addicted individual: it fluctuates between drama and euphoria. Being on a pink cloud can sometimes mean a detachment from reality: people become preoccupied with the good feelings and forget about the journey in front of them. The pink cloud can also be seen as a kind of natural high and defense mechanism, which helps people ignore all the familial, financial and legal issues that they have to deal with.
An addict’s life is a rollercoaster of emotions, and emotions are what trigger an addiction in the first place. Like any roller coaster, it’s not possible to stay joyful and delusional all the time: eventually, you’ll come closer to the ground, and that can bring too much disappointment to handle.
The real world and all the problems that you are still facing can hit you, and that can be the first step to relapse.
Many specialists, such as Professor Andrea King, director of the Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago, believe that the Pink Cloud Syndrome is risky because being irrational is a major obstacle to the addiction recovery.
Getting Off Of The Pink Clouds
The pink cloud phenomenon is an individual process, and its duration can vary between individuals. Some people that have lost everything can be happy for years during recovery; others can come back to reality soon after detox.
The real problem is not how long people will be flying on their pink clouds, but what this syndrome can cause. For many people, the unrealistic feeling of happiness holds a state that can be defined as a loss of memory regarding their pain and the devastating results their addiction has had.
Many people in early recovery think that they’ll never face any pain and that they are cured. Addicts can feel too confident and may start to believe that the key to recovery is only in their hands: they forget that recovery is a long process, and not an on-off switch.
- Egli M., Koob G. F., Edwards S. Alcohol dependence as a chronic pain disorder. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2012; 36(10): 2179–2192. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.07.010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612891/.
- Goldschmidt K. WITHDRAWN: The “Pink Cloud” Technology to Curb Addictions. 2017; S0882-5963(17)30554-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2017.11.010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29174578.
- Miele G. M., Trautman K., D., Hasin D., S. Assessing Comorbid Mental and Substance-Use Disorders: A Guide for Clinical Practice. Journal of practical psychiatry and behavioral health. 1996; 272-282. http://www.columbia.edu/~dsh2/prism/files/miele.pdf.
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