The Discovery House Blog

The Emotional Roller Coaster and the Pink Cloud

July 23, 2014 Working the Steps

Achieving sobriety is a remarkable relief for those who struggle with addiction.

When desperate circumstances provoke an honest desire to seek help overcoming addiction, there is a great freedom from the control of a substance, and joy in finally taking the right steps forward.

Why then, is “pink cloud” the term often used to describe this celebratory period in early sobriety, seem to have some irony attributed to it?

The answer to this lies in the battle addicts and alcoholics face with emotional ups and downs. The challenge for individuals in recovery is to put the high of this newfound freedom appropriately in perspective.

Substance abuse alters moods to extreme shifts between elation and sorrow. Also, addicts and alcoholics tend to self-medicate, the desired effect being to treat unwanted feelings by altering the mind and body.

The threat involved in a newcomer’s high on the pink cloud is not only that the extreme response is still a typical one, but that it is easy to feel great when it seems everything is going your way. The confidence experienced with the pink cloud can give a false sense of solidarity, leading a newcomer to believe the effort maintaining a strong program is unnecessary.

Early recovery brings with it new highs and lows, as emotions newcomers have been medicating come to the surface. When problems begin to arise and life begins to become stressful to manage again, without help and a strong program, relapse can become a dangerous possibility.

When appropriately put in perspective, freedom from addiction is something to celebrate.

The pink cloud can be an expression of gratitude for sobriety and can be tempered with an awareness of the danger of extreme highs and lows. With continued participation in recovery, the emotional rollercoaster will moderate with time.

Those in recovery can begin to express a true confidence and strength, one derived not from a purely emotional response, but from a firm foundation in a sober way of life.

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