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You’ve probably heard of the pink cloud in recovery. If you’ve been to a twelve step meeting, this phenomenon is explained in Alcoholics Anonymous. Most newcomers to recovery, at one time or another, have a “pink cloud” experience. The pink cloud usually consists of a general sense of well-being, elation, optimism, and a connection with others. It’s a wonderful mode of being, and most of us in recovery would love to make it our default condition. However, this fleeting feeling is often temporary and does not last forever.

The trouble with the Pink Cloud is that it is more like a balloon that will eventually get punctured, and it’s important that the recovering alcoholic or addict reach out and stay connected as he or she returns from the clouds and back to ground level.

When the expectation that this new condition is a permanent one gets dashed, it’s easy to be disappointed. Often, the letdown can lead to a relapse.

The pink cloud might be looked at as a nice payoff for new recovery—a welcome relief from the misery of our alcoholism. Much of the underlying problem has to do with dissatisfaction with the state of the world, accompanied by an inner experience of frustration, anger, hopelessness, and isolation. The emotions that are awakened are often intense and create a strong sense of well-being, even if it’s not rooted in what is really happening around you.

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Managing Your Expectations in Recovery

When alcohol and drugs are no longer a viable solution, and the addict/alcoholic embarks upon recovery, the pink cloud is like a pendulum swing to the opposite side of perception. The world and its people look rosy now: this is how things should be.

Unfortunately, the world and its people don’t cooperate in the long run, and the pink cloud experience begins to unravel. Sometimes it happens suddenly, as in the rude ending of an early-sobriety romance. Other times it seems to degrade over time, trending toward a dangerous condition for the newcomer.

Ultimately, we in recovery have to learn to face—and accept—reality as it is and to respond to it effectively, using the tools of recovery and establishing new habits of being as we go.

Although a permanent pink cloud is an unrealistic condition to expect, we come to find that our new condition is more than just satisfactory: it’s full of joy, connectedness, and a sense of purpose that we couldn’t have previously imagined. During therapy sessions at Restore Health and Wellness Center, our facilitators explore the pink cloud and how to manage your expectations in early recovery so that you avoid the pitfalls of a relapse. Visit our addiction treatment center in Simi Valley at 6918 Owensmouth Ave Canoga Park, CA 91303. 24/7 Admissions (818) 722-9019. On-Site Contact (818) 806-3914.

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