What Is Pink Cloud Syndrome?

by | Jul 2, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Many sex addicts experience a “honeymoon period” in early recovery, in which they suddenly lose all desire to engage in their addiction. The pink cloud is a temporary feeling of euphoria toward their recovery process. Some people might describe it as feeling “high on life.”

For people in recovery, the pink cloud can potentially lead them to stop participating in the program or let their guard down when it comes to sticking to their treatment plan.

In fact, as warm and positive as the term sounds, the pink cloud is a negative term within the context of addiction. The truth is that life will never be “normal” for an addict – their struggles and reality operate on a different level from non-addicts.

Pink Cloud Syndrome Dangers

Pink cloud syndrome is dangerous to addiction recovery because it can result in a person stopping their treatment process, thinking that they have overcome their substance use disorder and no longer need help.

A person with pink cloud syndrome who is living “in the clouds” may have no fear of resuming their addictions or believe that there is no possible way their feeling of joy could go away.

This type of attitude is dangerous to addiction recovery because the recovery process is rarely perfect and there is most likely going to be struggles along the way. The pink cloud may create unrealistic expectations for the person as they begin their recovery process. It is beneficial for individuals recovering from addiction to understand the realities of the process. Otherwise, a person experiencing pink cloud syndrome may be caught off guard if something does happen to hinder their recovery process. This can lead to extreme feelings of disappointment, which may lead to a potential setback.

Irrationality is one of the biggest obstacles to addiction recovery. In a nutshell, this is what makes the pink cloud so very dangerous. It’s simply impossible to remain in a state of happiness at all times, no matter how much you want to. At some point, the patient will have to touch their feet back on the ground and the disappointment of the real world can be too much to handle, potentially triggering a relapse.



Can the Pink Cloud Lead to Relapse?

Yes. It is possible that pink cloud syndrome can lead to relapse (but doesn’t have too). It is important for individuals to stay active in their treatment plan, even when it is going well and it feels like nothing could go wrong. 

When the happy feelings fade, and the person is left to face the reality of their recovery path, they may resort back to their old addiction to cope with those feelings. On the other hand, if the feeling of euphoria lasts for a while, and the person believes they can manage their recovery on their own, they may stop participating in treatment.

Studies have found that people with sex, porn or chemical abuse disorders who do not participate in a treatment plan are more likely to relapse than those that do.

Therapy, treatment plans and peer support programs like SAA are designed to help a person through the steps of recovery and avoid the pink cloud. The Pink cloud of recovery can be managed if the person realizes what they are experiencing and has the tools to stay on track.

Tips for Managing the Pink Cloud and Preventing Relapse

It is uncommon for someone to make it through a treatment program without making a few mistakes. Relapse prevention strategies can help a person stay on track with their recovery, overcome challenges and avoid situations like the pink cloud (write me if you want to know what serious recovery actually looks like).

  • The first thing an addict needs to remember is that recovery, particularly in the early stages, is hard work.
  • No one bounces back from an addiction. Of course, different people will adjust to their recovery differently, but if it feels too easy, something is wrong.
  • For some people, recovery will always be an agonizing process, from beginning to end. For others, the early stage of recovery may be colored by excitement at the prospect of finally becoming demon-free.
  • If you’re on the pink cloud, it is vital that you keep one foot firmly planted in reality, and remain committed to your recovery plan no matter how confident you feel.
  • When the pink cloud does begin to dissipate, it is normal to feel some depression. However, remaining grounded could allow you to head off the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that could lead to a relapse.
  • The important thing is to be wholly engaged with your day-to-day program. Let’s have a look at some of the techniques you can use to resist the lure of the pink cloud.

Stick to a routine:

Addiction recovery is not a miracle. It is difficult work that has to be repeated on a day to day basis. Stick to a healthy routine and lifestyle – continue eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. A long-term recovery plan is an important part maintain sobriety.

Commit to a long-term recovery plan:

It can be tempting to fall into the lures of the pink cloud, but remember to stay grounded: recovery is an ongoing process, and bouts of happiness are likely to come and go. This is completely normal, and if you need additional assistance in getting your head out of your……. clouds, call your sponsor or your therapist.

Why Addicts Struggle with Fun and Socialization

As I’ve written many times, addicts don’t engage their addictions to feel better; they do so to feel less.

In other words, addicts don’t drink, use, gamble, overspend, engage in compulsive sex, or whatever because they’re trying to have a good time; they do it because they’re trying to control and/or escape what they are feeling.

This means they engage their addictions to avoid experiencing stress, emotional discomfort, and underlying psychological issues like depression, interpersonal anxiety, and unresolved early-life trauma.

I have also written on numerous occasions that addicts are almost universally shame-based. Most often this inner sense of emptiness and self-doubt – the “hole in my soul” as many addicts call it – develops early in life related to inconsistent parenting, neglect, and/or outright abuse – emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual (either overt or covert).

This lack of emotional and sometimes even physical safety during early childhood typically results in the development of insecure attachment styles, low self-esteem, and self-blame (viewing the problem as being internally generated). In other words, survivors of early-life trauma come to believe, deep in their souls, that they are defective, wrong, and unworthy of love and belonging.

This shame is the primary sensation that addicts hope to “not feel” through addictive activity. It is also what makes friendships, romantic relationships, and socialization in general so difficult once an addict finally enters recovery.

Of note: Many shame-driven addicts seem gregarious and confident. Outwardly they can be quite social. But inwardly these narcissistically wounded individuals suffer from the same doubt, insecurity, and low self-esteem as other addicts.

Their seeming social effervescence is merely a self-defence mechanism used to combat these uncomfortable feelings. The good news is that this coping mechanism does work for many addicts, though only to a point.

Eventually, when people get close enough to make these addicts feel vulnerable (to rejection, humiliation, neglect, abandonment, abuse, or whatever), they flee, retreating to the relative safety of “controllable” relationships (i.e., relationships with addictive substances and/or behaviors).

Healthy Activities and Socialization

Without doubt, recovering addicts of all types need healthy activities during recovery. For one thing, their addictions usually took up large amounts of their free-time. When they are suddenly not drinking or using or acting out, they must find a way to fill the hours. Often, during the first months of sobriety this is the recovering addicts most difficult challenge. Many fill their empty space with therapy and active participation in twelve step groups. However, happiness requires more than just sobriety. It also requires a fun and meaningful social life.

Alex Lederman LPC-S CSAT