Pink Clouds & Pink Sevens? (Part 1)

And the first thing you know I was lifted right out of the A.A. group, and I floated higher, and higher, and even higher, until I was way up on a pink cloud which is known as Pink Seven, and I felt miserable again. So I thought to myself, I might just as well be drunk as feel like this.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 304 – “Physician Heal Thyself)

A “pink cloud” that is called the “Pink Seven,” what does that mean?  If you have never really experienced these terms in the recovery sense, they may be a little strange and alien to you.  But, many of us know or may even be experiencing the emotion that these terms describe.

I have stumbled across these terms periodically in older 12 Step literature and in my travels inn recovery circles (mostly used by “Old Timers”).  The usage suggests that the term describes a feeling of being better since starting recovery that comes soon after starting recovery.  It isn’t just a normal feeling good that is a result of being sober, the usage describes a euphoric feeling that convinces a person that he or she is better than cured.  It is often described as an “emotionally high” that often convinces a person new to recovery that he or she is so strong n his or her recovery that relapse seems impossible and that he or she is now some kind of expert in recovery.

Part of the idea conveyed in this term is the idea that this “pink cloud” is just the build up to a big letdown.  The point is that it is an overly emotional feeling that makes a person think he or she already has what he or she desperately needs and thus that person will not work his or her recovery. 

I have periodically (mostly with younger 12 Steppers trying to use the term) heard this term used for anyone that is felling better at all in early recovery.  I don’t know that I would use a term like this for everyone that feels a little better due to sobriety, but it is something that all of us should watch for in early recovery.

The author above is describing the worst cases of “pink clouds” as the “Pink Seven” (like the term “Seventh Heaven” = extreme happiness or bliss) and gives us a brief description of the feeling.  A feeling like he was lifted out of the group and such joy that it could only be described as floating.  Then suddenly, he felt miserable and some of know that crazy idea that comes next:  “If I’m gonna be miserable anyway, why not be high or drunk?” 

Then someone who had more “clean time” and had seen all of this a few times helped him understand:

“Why, there’s nothing wrong with you.  You’ve been sober for three months, been working hard. You’ve been doing all right.” But then he said, “Let me say something to you. We have here
in this community an organization which helps people, and this organization is known as Alcoholics Anonymous. Why don’t you join it?” I said, “What do you think I’ve been doing?” “Well,” he said, “you’ve been sober, but you’ve been floating way up on a cloud somewhere. Why don’t you go home and get the Big Book and open it at page seventy and see what it says?”
So I did. I got the Big Book and I read it, and this is what it said:
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” The word “thoroughly” rang a bell. And then it went on to say: “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.” And the last sentence was “We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”
“Complete abandon”; “Half measures availed us nothing”; “Thoroughly follow our path”; “Completely give oneself to this simple program”—rang in my swelled head.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pgs. 304-305  – “Physician Heal Thyself)

This person was giving him a hard time, but he definitely made his point.  The guy in the story had been working on recovery and started feeling great until he “felt miserable.”  He was feeling kinda better but he was having a “Pink Seven” experience and the whole feeling was more of a fake experience that can only lead to bigger problem.  The guy who pulled him to the side lets him know that he had been doing good stuff and had a few months of sobriety but, that he was not yet down to earth

The man in the story had been working through recovery stuff but had gotten so excited in recovery he had separated himself from what the program actually was.  He had been feeling so good that in his feeling good he had missed the point. 

The guy who redirected him in his recovery referred him to page 70 in the Alcoholics Anonymous book.  If you go to page 70 in the Alcoholics Anonymous book you will not find any of these terms there.  That is because in the first printings of the Alcoholics Anonymous book “The Doctor’s Opinion” which is currently not on normally numbered pages was the beginning of the book at page 1.  In the current editions of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, the page that is referred to is page 59:

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. 

Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
(Alcoholics Anonymous pgs 58-59)

So, what is the solution to this “pink cloud” and the worst cases of this “pink cloud” called “the Pink Seven?”  So far this is just food for thought, In my next post, we will look at this a bit deeper to get a better understanding.

5 thoughts on “Pink Clouds & Pink Sevens? (Part 1)”

  1. The Pink Cloud 1

    The “pink cloud” is an experience common to almost everyone that seeks recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism. Early stage recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism is a period of time that is comprised of a great many challenges and feelings which are difficult to manage. The individual recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism may still be experiencing cravings, symptoms associated with withdrawal or feelings for the first time in sobriety. Each day is a series of “ups and downs, highs and lows, usually accompanied by depression, frustration, hopelessness, anger, resentment which the addict or alcoholic is accustomed to coping with through the use of drugs, alcohol or unhealthy behavioral choices.

    Then comes a day, followed by a series of days or weeks, where the addict or alcoholic experiences acceptance. He or she is excited at the prospect of what recovery from addiction and alcoholism has to offer and feel as if they have grasped what it takes to maintain quality recovery. All the work they have done in their addiction treatment center and self help group has paid off and they experience a reprieve from all the difficulties that have crossed their path. This reprieve, which is actually a feeling, lasts but for a period of time and as with any feeling, comes and goes. As this feeling of excitement and acceptance passes, the risk for relapse is great as the addict or alcoholic begin to doubt the quality of their recovery. They become scared and thoughts of their drug addiction or alcoholism reappear. Addicts and alcoholics will experience this “pink cloud” phenomenon many times in recovery. As their ability to cope with feelings and situations increase and they become more committed to their relapse prevention program, the less likely relapse is to occur.

  2. I’m slightly concerned, I am a recovering alcoholic (purest) 7 months clean. I very seldom drank, but when ever I did, I would suffer blackouts. I realize I have alcoholic behavior, after reading the 12 steps of insanity I could put exclamation points after every step. My concern is that I may be on a pink cloud rather than “having a brake thru”. My therapist said I had a conscious awakening, my IOP counselor said I have “plugged into my higher power”. I am uncertain whether this a psychological coping mechanism or a break thru. The best way I can describe what Is happening, I am lifted out of thought, options of perception and thought are streamed thru me and I return to the original thought, with new insight. I also seem to notice simple mundane things with a new/different perspective, causing a slight shift in how I respond to them, which thus far has been beneficial.

    1. Whatever the reality is, you are off to a good start. Sustainability is the question that can only be answered through the tests and challenges of time. Consider moving from “plugged in to” your higher power and consider a constant and deep relationship with that higher power.

      The deep relationship of the type that can talk you off of the ledge in the worst of days and also when there is not a care in the world and we can all lose sight of the possibility of disaster.

      May every day be better than the last and your “Awakening” be one that increases daily in a deep way,
      Wade H.

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