Believe it or not, there is a period in early sobriety that is called the “pink cloud”. It is usually considered to be a temporary phase that occurs once a person has sobered up, is working their steps, and feels plain old high on life.
Sadly, most people find that eventually, their pink cloud riding comes to an end. I think that what is even sadder, is that people don’t realize that it doesn’t have to.
Why it Happens
The days leading up to us getting sober and entering a rehab facility, it often feels like the pain and emotional torment we have been experiencing will never end. Many of us can’t believe that life, sober or not, could be good for us. We don’t understand that we can be happy again because we haven’t experienced it for such a long time.
We see the other people in meeting rooms looking happy, laughing, smiling, feeling comfortable in their own skin, but most of us highly doubt that we will ever feel free like that again. Until we start working the steps.
Once we have detoxed all of the poison out of ourselves, had a few nights of good sleep, and start to develop a normal appetite, our physical bodies start to level out and naturally, we begin to feel better.
What we have left to deal with is the mental and emotional healing. This takes place through working the steps, with a sponsor, who has worked the steps. We get involved in the fellowship, we make new friends, and slowly but surely, we begin to feel ourselves riding the pink cloud.
The pink cloud happens because:
- We put down the booze and drugs
- We return to a normal state of healthy functioning (ish)
- We follow some type of normal daily routine
- We make new friends who are sober
- We start to feel hopeful
From what I have learned through my own experience and from other members’ stories, is that the pink cloud is largely believed to be a temporary thing.
Does it have to end?
Why it Ends
What happens for many of us is that when we begin to return to normalcy, we start to rely less on the program. We received many of the gifts of sobriety, and it can be easy to forget how, through working the steps and being involved in the program, we received these gifts. Our attention starts to shift more towards work, money, relationships, and we can become “too busy” to practice the basics that got us there.
While this doesn’t happen to everyone, a majority of us will go through a period of lackluster spiritual fitness, where we “rest on our laurels” and wonder why we are tired all the time, why nothing seems to be going “right”, and why it feels like such a chore to go to a meeting.
The obvious answer to this is that we have stopped working our program to the best of our abilities, which means we are going to fall right off that pink cloud. I see the time in between, the freefall, as those days we are too busy to pray, too busy to call our sponsor, and too busy for a meeting.
The relapse is when we finally slam down onto our backs, face-up, wondering what happened.
I repeat, it doesn’t have to be this way, and a period of resting on your laurels does not have to equal relapse.
How to Get Back or Stay On
If you have found yourself starting to slip off the pink cloud, or if you are still happily enjoying the peace and comfort of sobriety, you have every tool you need to stay on. If you have found yourself making the slow fall down to earth, there is still time to reverse it.
All you have to do is bring it back to the basics… but maybe dig a little deeper this time.
What are the basics, you may ask? The basics are:
- Work your steps with a sponsor
- Communicate often with your Higher Power
- Get involved in the program
- Pick up a service commitment
Out of the 168 hours in a week, these actions should really only take up a few of them. Think about it this way: if you pray and meditate for thirty minutes throughout the day (10 in the morning, 10 throughout the day, 10 at night), go to three meetings a week (or less, or more!), stay for 30 minutes before or after, and talk to your sponsor three times a week for 15 minutes, that’s somewhere between 7 and 10 hours a week, or around 2 hours a day if a meeting is involved. That is ALL of your commitments, for the WHOLE week.
Compare the benefits of spending that time working a program, to spending it watching Netflix, and you’ve got your proof right there in the pudding.
When we invest small amounts of time throughout our day to staying on the beam, it equals far less than the time we spent trying to stay drunk and high.
When we realize it is this easy to stay happy and peaceful in our sobriety, and that we already know everything we need to do, we realize that the only entity kicking us off that pink cloud is ourselves.
It is a sobering but freeing realization when we realize that we are our own worst enemy, but also our best ally. This realization allows us to right any situation by taking control back where we can.
You will hear and learn that we have to turn our will and our lives over to our Higher Power. Yes, HP will drive the car, but you have to put the keys in the ignition. In other words, in order to stay on the pink cloud, you will have to work your program. It might seem like a burden sometimes, but it will always be a heck of a lot better than it used to be.