• Jason Brumback

Euphoric Recall: Why It Happens and How to Cope




One minute, everything seems fine. You're confident in your recovery, you feel proud of what you're doing to take care of yourself, and you even feel excited about the future.


And then, out of nowhere, it hits you. You're seemingly smacked with the nostalgic wave of your past life. You're consumed by the euphoric recall of all the good times, and you start reminiscing about those old friendships, behaviors, and risky decisions.


This rapid change of thoughts and feelings can be undoubtedly scary. For many people, they can lead to a relapse. Here are some tips for understanding and coping with euphoric recall.


Why Does Euphoric Recall Happen?

Euphoric recall can happen for many reasons, but it often occurs as a stress response. Your body began relying on drugs and alcohol to cope with uncomfortable feelings. As you have learned, those uncomfortable feelings don't disappear once you enter recovery. If anything, they often feel more amplified.


Experiencing these feelings can be challenging, especially when you aren't used to coping with them effectively. As a result, you might miss the seemingly simplistic solution of numbing your pain.


Furthermore, euphoric recall is often rooted in neurobiology. Drugs activate neural pathways associated with pleasure. Over time, your body becomes accustomed to these high levels of dopamine and serotonin to feel good.


The opposite is also true. Many people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) after entering recovery. They may feel depressed, anxious, or apathetic about their lives. They might also feel like "recovery" isn't worth it.


This crash-like effect is frustrating, but it's relatively normal. It explains why euphoric recall can be so intense, especially in the early stages of recovery.


How Can You Cope With Euphoric Recall?

Euphoric recall can be destructive because your mind may convince you that your addiction wasn't actually a problem. As a result, you may experience heightened cravings or start using drugs again. Here are some strategies for tackling this challenging issue.


Label What's Happening

Insight is one of the most important tools you can have in recovery. Insight allows you to accurately reflect and label situations as they happen in real-time.


It may be helpful to use the words euphoric recall, glamorizing, or cravings to state what's occurring. These words externalize the situation, slightly removing them from their impact on you.


Tell Someone (Or Several People)

You know that support is essential in recovery, and now is the time to lean on it. Even though your addiction might convince you that you can keep these feelings a secret, remember that your mind can play tricks on you.


Instead, be honest and forthcoming about your thoughts and feelings. Let your friends, sponsor, or therapist know what's going on. Ask for additional support or guidance.


Shift Into Negative Recall

If you're reminiscing on all the good times, take a few moments to shift gears altogether. Focusing on the negative recall means remembering all the harmful effects of your addiction.


It may be helpful to "play the tape" and write down all these harmful consequences. For example, what might happen to your job, relationship, or living environment if you relapsed? How could this decision impact future goals or expectations?


Then, think about all the adverse consequences you've experienced as a direct result of your addiction. List the people you hurt, the goals you didn't achieve, the legal issues you faced, or the health issues you suffered. Try to really spend some time on this assignment, as it can help you unpeel all the negative aspects you may be ignoring or suppressing.


Double Down on Recovery

If you feel shaky with your recovery, now is probably the best time to concentrate your efforts. For example, you may need to attend more meetings or increase your therapy session frequency.


At times, it might feel like you are just "going through the motions." That's okay. Sticking with your routine- even if it isn't exactly what you want to do- can help you stay grounded and focused.


Minimize Triggering Situations

By now, you probably know which people, places, or things trigger intense cravings.


As a gift to yourself, try to limit these situations as much as possible. In other words, don't make things more complicated than they need to be right now. Instead, commit to your usual routine, do what works to make you feel confident in your recovery, and avoid adding excess stress when possible.


Final Thoughts

Euphoric recall can be a frustrating experience, but it's essential to give yourself patience and compassion during this time. Recovery isn't always a smooth process, and seeking support is crucial when you're struggling.


At The Resurface Group, we are here to help you stay accountable to yourself and your goals. Contact us today to learn more!

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