If you’re new to recovery there are many experiences you’re yet to experience. There will likely be some natural highs as well as some deep lows. The detoxification period and the few months afterward can feel like a thawing out, where the emotions that you became anesthetized to might start to wake up. Of course, this can feel wonderful. There might be some joy and happiness to feel. At the same time, there will likely be some challenging emotions, really hard ones, in fact. And this can make the first few months and even year of recovery hard. However, fortunately, it is a mix of the two. As the emotions begin to thaw out, you’ll experience the range of feelings from positive to not-so-positive.
Experiencing this range of emotions is very natural in recovery. However, sometimes, people exhibit a Pollyanna-type of happiness in early sobriety that is known in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as the Pink Cloud Syndrome. It’s the experience characterized by unusual happiness and even grandiosity, while real and difficult life challenges continue to exist. Apparently, it’s a common experience for AA newcomers, while old-timers know that it’s an illusion.
In fact, the Pink Syndrome can be common because early AA participants might at first feel like they’ve found something that is going to rescue them from their problems. However, the danger here is that newly recovering addicts with this experience don’t recognize that they will need to do significant work in order change their lives. In order for the circumstances in their life to transform, they will still need to do plenty of soul-searching.
Another danger of this syndrome is that it tends to be a result of still escaping problems. Just like alcohol and drugs were used as an escape, finding sobriety and recovery might also be used as an escape. Although it’s true that recovery is about finding a joy and excitement to life that drugs and alcohol cannot give you, the Pink Cloud syndrome is escaping life’s problems by believing and telling yourself that everything is fine, when for a recovering addict, it’s likely not.
Of course, another danger here is if someone believes their life is full of pink clouds and rainbows, then he or she won’t actually roll up their sleeves and do the hard work they need to do to change their life. The Pollyanna thinking and the grandiosity can keep someone caught in an illusory world.
If you are in early recovery and you notice that you’re experiencing this kind of thinking, you might want to talk to your sponsor. Another person might be a therapist or other mental health provider. You might explore the reasons behind the Pink Cloud Syndrome and what you can do to unravel the illusion of it.
Of course, everyone is meant to feel happy and joyful. However, someone in recovery should aim for having natural feelings. Uncovering the need to feel like you’re on pink clouds and rosy rainbows can help break down the Pink Cloud Syndrome so that you can move forward in your recovery in a healthy way.
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