What is the “Pink Cloud”?

What is the “Pink Cloud”?

The “pink cloud” is a term that originated in AA. It describes the experience of feeling especially good early in recovery. When someone gets past withdrawal, she often finds she immediately feels quite a bit better, especially if she’s in a supportive environment, perhaps for the first time in her life. Instead of waking up hungover, she wakes up feeling rested and ready to go. Perhaps more importantly, she feels like she has hope for a better life. That, plus connecting with other people who share her struggle can feel like a radical change from the despair of addiction.

People often argue whether the pink cloud is a good thing or bad thing. On one hand, it’s certainly a positive feeling and it can reinforce the smart but difficult decision to get help for addiction. It’s like a little pat on the back that says, “you made the right choice.” The pink cloud can also encourage you to keep making progress. If, instead of the pink cloud, you just felt numb or depressed, you might continue to wonder whether you made the right choice or if you have any chance of succeeding in recovery. This is typically called post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, and it affects many people early in recovery. It may last from a few months to over a year. It eventually passes, but it can make recovery more challenging at first. The pink cloud is probably more what people are hoping for in the early months of recovery.

The pink cloud might be dangerous if you expect it to last forever. No one can feel amazing all the time and life always has its challenges. The pink cloud will eventually go away, and that’s fine. The trouble comes when you take this as a sign that recovery is no longer working for you or that sobriety is not living up to your expectations. For this reason, some people with more time in recovery will discourage pink cloud thinking or use the term “pink cloud” derisively. While it is good to have realistic expectations, there’s no reason not to enjoy the positive mood while it lasts. Feeling good is great as long as you don’t crumble when your mood inevitably changes.

It’s also important to realize that not everyone has the same experience early in recovery. As noted above, many people get a dark cloud instead. This doesn’t mean they’re doing anything wrong; it’s just a different experience born of different circumstances. It’s important to accept that their experiences are valid and support them even if your experience is very different.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-736-4183

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.