What is the Pink Cloud in Addiction Recovery?

Living with substance abuse and addiction impacts every part of your well-being. It harms your physical health, damages your most important relationships, and chips away at your mental health.

Seeking treatment for addiction is one of the most impactful decisions you will ever make. In treatment, you will find the support and care you need to detox from drugs or alcohol safely. Then, you will work to develop the skills you need to prevent relapse.

In the earliest days of recovery, you may experience something called “the pink cloud.” This term describes feelings of excitement, optimism, and even euphoria that people have about their new sober lifestyle.

Experiencing the pink cloud may feel encouraging. But what happens when those feelings fade?

This article will explore the pink cloud in recovery. You will learn:

  • Why the “pink cloud” happens
  • How to recognize when you are experiencing pink cloud syndrome
  • When the pink cloud is likely to occur
  • How to stay focused on recovery when the pink cloud phase ends
  • Where to find treatment and support in early recovery

If you or someone you love is in recovery and needs support, contact The Best Treatment specialists to explore our programs or schedule an intake assessment.

What is the Pink Cloud?

Recovering from addiction typically happens in stages. In the early stages of recovery, many people feel intense excitement and extreme joy about the prospect of a fresh start.

Some addiction experts refer to these feelings of euphoria in early recovery as “pink clouding” or “pink cloud syndrome.” The term “pink cloud” refers to the pleasant, happy feelings people may experience while looking at a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Some people also refer to this stage of recovery as “the honeymoon phase.” Many believe this term was first used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

No matter what you call it, the meaning is the same. Early recovery can be a time of great hope and optimism. People may feel good and focus only on enjoying their new, healthy life.

Pink Clouding: Recognizing the Signs

People with a history of substance abuse may experience feelings of intense joy and excitement in early recovery. People may be relieved to finally be free of their active addiction. They may feel proud of completing an addiction treatment program. Many addiction experts believe people may experience the pink cloud in recovery as their body returns to its natural, balanced state.

Several signs indicate that someone is pink clouding. People in a pink cloud feel happy, energized, and even “high.”

Other symptoms of pink cloud syndrome include:

  • Experiencing an elevated mood
  • Intense feelings of joy and excitement
  • Optimism about recovery

People may also have symptoms that may become destructive. They may disengage from their support networks. Many develop unrealistic expectations about what life in recovery will be like.

Pink clouding can interfere with a person’s recovery. It can prevent people from developing or using effective relapse-prevention skills. It may increase a person’s risk of experiencing a relapse.

When Does the Pink Cloud Happen?

Detoxing from drugs and alcohol can be very challenging. Many people experience grueling withdrawal symptoms that push their bodies and minds to the limit. Sometimes, people may come out of detox feeling a deep sense of peace and contentment about their future.

For some, a pink cloud may occur soon after detox–often right after withdrawal is complete. Others do not develop pink cloud symptoms for weeks after detox is over.

The symptoms of the pink cloud may last just a few days or linger for months. They may fade as people return to their usual daily routines.

It can be challenging for people to stay focused on recovery once the initial burst of energy and excitement wears off. People in a recovery program must find ongoing support to remain active and committed to sobriety once the excitement fades.

Staying Focused on Recovery After the Pink Cloud

After the excitement of early recovery fades and the pink cloud is gone, many people go through an emotional “crash.” During this crash, recovery–and life in general–can feel overwhelming. People may become discouraged as life’s challenges come back into focus.

It is crucial to remember that the pink cloud phase will end. Prepare for this more challenging phase of recovery by:

Recovering from addiction can be challenging, but having support can help. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, you are not alone. Effective, holistic treatment is available at The Best Treatment.

Contact our intake specialists now to explore our rehab or support programs. We will answer your questions, verify your insurance, and help you schedule an intake assessment so that you can begin working toward a healthier future.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.