So you are newly sober! You have been given the gift of desperation and became willing to make one of the biggest changes of your life, getting sober. I’m sure by this point, you are now feeling all of the emotions that you haven’t felt for the last, however many years you were abusing drugs, alcohol, food, relationships, etc. It kinda sucks right? Don’t worry, it gets better! And for some of you, it may already be better, so good in fact, that it feels like you are riding a wonderful and blissful high on life. Well, that’s awesome! Enjoy it! Now let me be the bearer of… bad and good news. Many people in early recovery find themselves in this position, and so it has been dubbed the “Pink Cloud”. Calm down, let me explain. What is the Pink Cloud? The pink cloud is a term for the first few days, weeks, even months of sobriety after the initial highs and lows of getting sober begin to even out. Some people begin to experience so much freedom and joy that they start to think “getting sober is easy! Maybe I never even had a problem in the first place!” I myself have fallen victim to this thinking through 4 relapses. Getting sober brings with it the gifts and joys of life that we have blocked ourselves off from for years. For example, getting an enjoyable job, finding a boat load of new friends and feeling like we are on top of the world. After a while, we can start to wonder if we really need our fellowship. But Doesn’t Getting Sober Mean We Should be Happy? Yes, definitely! Getting sober can be easy, and is definitely more enjoyable than the way we were living. However, if you find that you are having thoughts or ideas that you may not need to be here anymore, you might be moving down a slippery slope. But don’t worry, there is still time to fix it. I highly recommend voicing these thoughts to a trusted member of your fellowship who has more time than you do. After the years of horror we have put ourselves through, I’m not saying we don’t deserve a little happiness and joy in our lives. What I’m saying is, there is a line between reality and delusion that, when newly sober, can be hard for us to distinguish. In my own personal experience with the pink cloud, I would often find myself thinking things like “Okay I’ve gotten my life back together, thank you AA, but I don’t think I ever actually had a problem” meanwhile I was living in a halfway, not paying any of my own bills, and working less than 20 hours a week at a Jersey Mikes. But for the first time in a long time, I was happy. I hadn’t started working any steps, and I romanticized my addiction and getting drunk and high almost constantly. Low and behold, I relapsed shortly after. The Danger of the Pink Cloud The danger of the Pink Cloud lies in its deception. It’s very subtle for many of us, and the problem comes once it starts to wear off. One bad thing can happen and all of a sudden we hit a low so hard that we are knocked right out of our elation, and are faced with the only remedy we’ve known for years. But wait! There’s hope! Hopefully, by this point, you have found a sponsor, whether by choice or by encouragement from your halfway. Regardless of how you got them, hopefully, you have started your steps. If you haven’t, it’s not too late! We cannot hope to continue with the joys and blessings of our new life until we become willing to work the 12 steps of our new found fellowship. Bring on the 12 Steps! These steps were not created to intimidate us by adding extra rules and laws for us to conform to. On the contrary, the steps give us tools and a spiritual outlet that allows us to face all of the ups and downs that will come with our new way of living. They are absolutely crucial in maintaining any healthy, long term sobriety. And honestly, they can be truly eye opening and enjoyable if you work them fully and thoroughly with a sponsor. So if you find yourself floating around on this pink cloud of newfound sobriety, please, enjoy it, but be aware that life is not all sunshine and rainbows, and the time will come when you will need a solid groundwork of recovery to help you face and overcome any troubles you may encounter on your journey. So How Can I Protect Myself? Good question, and the answer is simple and I’m sure you’ve probably heard it a hundred times in meetings by now. The best ways to protect yourself is to dive into your program. Get a Sponsor! Find someone whom you admire, who seems to really enjoy the program and is truly grateful to be in it. Work your Steps with your sponsor. They say it’s suggested, but it’s not. This is mandatory, don’t like it? Get over it. You’ll be glad you did. Find a home group, and get a commitment. Whether it’s greeting at the door, making coffee, or cleaning up afterward, you will become interlaced with the lives of others and I promise you will consider this meeting your home away from home. Practice calling sober supports. I know it’s a pain and we may feel weird opening up, but reaching out for help will save your butt when life becomes too heavy. Find a healthy outlet for stress. If you find something that benefits your life like writing, exercise, hiking, sports, whatever, you can turn to this in times of stress to help reset your brain. Think of it as an early practice of meditation. And lastly but definitely not least, Begin to discover your higher power, and talk to them often! Worried that people will think you’re crazy? So what? It probably won’t be the first time, and at least now it’s because you’re growing spiritually rather than because you blacked out and did some reckless stuff last night. So if you think you’ve been floating around on a pink cloud and wondering when you will fall back to Earth, don’t panic! Just prepare. Dive into your program, raise your hand and say you are new and want support. Work towards your sobriety as hard as you worked to get drunk or high. It will ensure you drift gracefully down from your cloud rather than plummet. Getting Help At Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer a 90-day inpatient rehab with relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 561-278-0055 to learn more.