Euphoric Recall

Euphoric Recall: How it Makes You Crave the Narcissist

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You’re sitting at home alone and suddenly you remember all the happy times you had together with the narcissist.

All the laughs, the gifts, the excitement, and adoration.

Maybe you should respond to that text. Maybe you could have done a few things differently in the relationship yourself. No one’s perfect, right?

Well, the truth is, your mind is playing tricks on you because of something called euphoric recall.

Euphoric recall is causing you to remember all the happy times and minimize the bad. It’s a defense mechanism and, in the case of narcissistic abuse, it’s dangerous.

Here’s how to identify euphoric recall as it’s happening and keep up no contact for your own safety and well-being.

Euphoric Recall and Addiction Recovery

According to Wikipedia, Euphoric recall is a psychological term for the tendency of people to remember past experiences in a positive light, while overlooking negative experiences associated with that event or person. Individuals may become obsessed with recreating the remembered pleasures of the past.

Euphoric recall is arguably the driving factor behind chronic relapsing in addiction recovery.

Chronic relapsers are people in alcohol or drug recovery who have no problem maintaining sobriety for months or even years. But at some point, thoughts start creeping into their head that “just one won’t hurt.”

They remember how good it felt to crack a beer after work. They think about all the times they had a few drinks and didn’t drive drunk or start a fight. They dismiss the nights spent in jail, hangovers, and arguments.

Their mind convinces them to have that one drink and it all spirals from there. Maybe not that same day, maybe not even that week or month, but the addiction eventually comes back in full force. 

Euphoric recall happens because our brains are wired to avoid suffering and seek comfort.

This instinct is healthy when it comes to wearing a seatbelt but dangerous when it comes to addiction recovery or narcissistic abuse.

When you’re in the throes of euphoric recall, you remember all the happy times during your relationship with the narcissist. Your brain desperately wants to experience those euphoric times again – so much in fact, that it conveniently forgets or minimizes the intense abuse you suffered.

You’ll gaslight yourself. You’ll convince yourself that you have your own problems to work on and could have done a few things differently yourself. You’ll resort to leveling to justify giving in to the narcissist’s hoovering – or even reach out to the narcissist on your own accord!

How Does Euphoric Recall Fit into Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?

Going No Contact with a narcissist puts you in the same situation as someone going through addiction recovery.

Narcissists manipulate you into a love addiction. In the beginning, during the love-bombing phase, the narcissist gives you a high – you feel on top of the world.

They shower you with affection, gifts, and promises. You believe this is the greatest relationship in the world and nothing could ever compare.

Before you know it, the love-bombing has disappeared and is replaced with insults, manipulation, and gaslighting. You feel like a shell of who you once were – just like an addict at rock bottom.

When the narcissist feels like you might be getting fed up and slipping away, they’ll dole out small “hits” of love bombing again to keep you hooked and hopeful. They’ll promise to change (with no intention of changing).

Before you know it, the abuse has returned with vengeance.

When Does Euphoric Recall Happen?

People suffering from the disease of addiction understand that recovery isn’t linear. Chronic relapsers are well aware of a phenomenon called pink cloud syndrome.

Pink cloud syndrome happens a few weeks or months after getting clean. After breaking their dependence on a substance, their brain chemistry starts shifting back to baseline producing its own serotonin, dopamine, and GABA again.

In the pink cloud, they’re so ecstatic to be clean and living a good life. The world looks bright and they feel like a kid again, rebuilding their identity and experiencing everything they couldn’t do during active addiction.

But the pink cloud eventually wears off and reality sets in.


Their daily routine gets boring and all the problems they faced before or during addiction are still there.

Suddenly, picking up a hit or a drink doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to break the monotony. The world sucks – how can anyone go through it 100% sober?

That’s euphoric recall kicking in. They remember all the reasons they started using or drinking in the first place. They remember how good it felt to get drunk, buzzed, or high.

When you leave a relationship with a narcissist, you’ll also go through the pink cloud phase.

You’ll be thrilled to have your freedom back and start rebuilding your identity. Then, the reality of boring ole daily life hits you. You feel lonely. Suddenly, the love-bombing sounds pretty darn exciting.

Just like someone in addiction recovery, people going through narcissistic abuse recovery must prepare themselves for the pink cloud to wear off and euphoric recall to set in.

How to Avoid Succumbing to Euphoric Recall

You can’t avoid the euphoric stage from hitting you but you CAN take a few steps to avoid breaking No Contact.

1 – Play the Tape

People going through addiction recovery are told to “play the tape” when they get cravings to use.

Imagine you had a time-lapse video of your entire relationship with the narcissist. If you were to watch such a tape, you would see a clear cause-effect pattern. You would see that giving in to the euphoria just for a little love bombing always leads back to the cycle of narcissistic abuse.

2 – Make a List of the Relationship’s Abuse

When people go through addiction recovery programs, they’re encouraged to make a list of their shortcomings and all the ways they’ve harmed people during their addiction.

It’s part of learning about your resentments and why you use or drink so you can move past and make amends.

After you go No Contact with the narcissist, the first thing you should do is make a list of all the ways the narcissist has harmed you. Get specific if you have to. How many nights and weekends did you spend fighting? How many times did they promise to change? How many times did they insult and degrade you?

It’s also a good idea to think of anyone in your own life who may have suffered as a result of your abusive relationship.  This might include children, parents, siblings, and good friends.

Go back to the lists every time you feel compelled to break No Contact.

3 – Acknowledge Euphoric Recall for What It Is

Don’t repress the urge – acknowledge it for what it is. Ignoring your urge to break No Contact will just force it to reappear later, perhaps when you’re in an even more vulnerable mental state.

Instead, look at the urge objectively. You can’t always control the cravings or thoughts but you CAN control how you react to and manage them.

Do you act on every thought that comes into your head? Of course not! Treat this urge to break No Contact the same way.

People in addiction recovery are taught not to think of sobriety as “forever” if that feels terrifying. They’re encouraged to think of sobriety as “just for today,” every day. If thinking of No Contact long-term is too overwhelming, just try to get through each day.

4 – Reach Out to a Support Group

Relationships with narcissists involve trauma bonding and love addiction. Many secular and Buddhist addiction recovery programs are open to people who suffer from addictions of all kinds: alcohol, drugs, video games, food, etc. If it creates suffering in your life, you’re welcome to join. (Be mindful, however, that many narcissistic abuse recovery groups have been infiltrated by narcissists because it’s an easy way for them to scope out new supply sources).

It’s important to work through a specific narcissistic abuse recovery program from a qualified mentor. However, sometimes you just need to connect with people in real life (or through Zoom) in a larger group to build community support.

You’re Stronger Than Euphoric Recall

Keeping No Contact isn’t easy but it’s the best decision you’ll ever make for yourself. No matter what you tell yourself during euphoric recall, that doesn’t change the fact that your relationship with the narcissist was abusive.

You deserve more than manipulation and love addiction. You deserve the freedom to build an identity and surround yourself with supportive people.

Recovery involves rewriting everything you thought you knew about yourself. It requires rebuilding your identity – or in many cases building an identity for the first time.

Like someone suffering from substance abuse, you need a narcissistic abuse recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Break Free Program may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

I know what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

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Leave a Comment:

Victoria says June 27, 2023

Thank you for this article. God’s timing is perfect. I see that now. I have yet to go “No Contact”, mostly because I struggle with loving feelings for my ex, and what we went through together in his Cancer struggles and treatments. I know most definitely, that I too, have narcissistic tendencies. And I think, really seeing this (in myself) for the first time, confuses me in exactly what you’ve explained in this article. That self-doubt. Ruminating over what I could have done differently. Thank you for being a Blessing in our lives, Kim. I am maxed out financially right now, but, I hope in the future to sign-up for your course. Thank you for the free articles and inspiration. Gratefully, Victoria

Jennifer Yeager says March 23, 2022

Omg I feel like the planets have aligned and like you wrote this article especially for me. I am an addict and relate to it 100%. Kim, you are so helpful to me. I’m going to detox in the morning and this seems like it’s all God preparing me.

Julie says September 6, 2021

This is so powerful and timely for me. I left my most recent narcissistic boyfriend a little over a month ago, and the craving and longing is almost unbearable. Last night, I couldn’t sleep and kept remembering all the GOOD things in our relationship! The pink cloud didn’t last very long, unfortunately. I have managed to stay No Contact by the hardest, but it is getting harder, not easier. I almost convinced myself to reach out to him last night. So grateful I didn’t. I would have hated myself this morning.

Linda says July 21, 2021

I know I have been down this road, at least, a few times during the past 40+ years. My narcissist is my son (like his father was) and my ONLY child, so that has made it exceedingly difficult to sever ties (I do love him, after all). But, at 65 years old and, now, with a heart condition (rather complex myocardial infarction, this past June 1st), I just can’t do this anymore!

Deb Thibeault says July 20, 2021

I was just thinking today of the good times him and I had. I had to stop thinking about that and focus on all the bad. I don’t ever want to be in his presence. I have gone no contact for four months now. It is getting easier everyday. He has a new victim/meal ticket in his life now he can leave me alone.

L. Ali says November 12, 2020

Hi Kim,

Please explain how to know if a new person comes in your life and showers u with good feelings and gifts that this is not the beginning stages of a narsiscist?

Lydia Ali says November 12, 2020

Hi Kim,

Please explain how to know if a new person comes in your life and showers u with good feelings and gifts that this is not the beginning stages of a narsiscist?

Katherina Wenzel says November 11, 2020

Hi there. I read this about euphoric recall and must admit that there’s an opposite to what you have described. Yes, there is an opposite. To me it’s called the dysphoric recall. I have cut the ball and chain and went rogue 5 years ago by means of no contact. It took four years to get a divorce and that without ever seeing him. Only via letters from the lawyer. Thank god he left the country before the divorce in court because the kids and I opened a case against him for abuse. But coming back to euphoric recall and dysphoric recall, Kim, you should please write something about this too. Whenever, which is often, I just can’t forget, I think of the past and think of the BAD times. I’m so damaged I have no recollection of any good times. I am in an instant filled with hate. I remember bad things, it’s crazy. They say your brain hides things for your protection. Why on earth does mine hides good things. There must have been some or lots but I just don’t remember them. I walk my dog in the forests and am at peace and then bang, i feel stalked. Is he behind me? Is he going to kill me? He promised he would many years ago, when I threatened to leave. He would always bring up O.J. Simpson. I have that dysphoric recall and the hate fills in me. I would like to write a letter to the narc and use profanities like never before seen in a letter. Rage. That’s what comes up.
Are there any others with this type of recall reaction? Even after 5 years. The CPTSD causes me to drive around a traffic circle 3 times in case I’m being followed. I drive a different route regularly to work, just in case. I hate him for making me feel like this today, I hate him for making me hate men, I hate him for killing my animals, I hate him for hitting my children and telling them they’re worthless. I hate him for tons and tons of stuff. I have a very special dog now and if you ever come near me I hope he’ll rip your throat out. And guess what you bastard, my kids have turned into very, very nice people, they are everything you despise. Yes, they’re MY kids because I managed to get them through your anarchic upbringing without them being like you. They are all damaged, but not like you. We are making it and hope you rot in hell. So, Kim. There it is you see the rage we have. Nothing with “euphoric recall ” here. Maybe you can explain this “dysphoric recall” phenomenon.
Yours sincerely

Kathy says August 26, 2020

I made the list of the abuses I went through tonight, and it was long. And this helped me get through the struggles I have been having for about a week now. I needed the reminders of why I left and went no contact.

Rylynn J Tallwhiteman says July 29, 2020

I want to say to you to stay strong an yes you can do it an one day yes your Freedomis yours for the taking don’t give up…..

Stacy kreager says July 4, 2020

My parents are my narcissistic abusers, in all ways, physically sexual and mentally. I am 50 yo they manipulated my entire life. Not only did my father sexually abuse me, he gave me away as a gambling debt. And also I was sexually abused by my mother. 7%of mothers abuse their own children. Boy am I lucky.
My husband and I had created and ran a successful restaurant for 1 years, they went behind my back and bought it-just about when we would have been paid off, saying they bought my restaurant for me. I recovered memories and they fired me from my life’s passion/work with a smear campaign they had been working on for years. But to top it off they abused my children sexually as well. They are evil. I cut them off duh but it’s so wrong they get NO PUNISHMENT. Teachers clergy and adult is held responsible except for parents -they have no repercussions at all. I get life isn’t fair but come on

Tina says May 27, 2020

How do you fully recover if he keeps contacting your kids? They won’t unfriend him because he’s manipulating them now. Gifts, money, etc. It’s like I’ll never be free of him? And he’s not their father!

Rugia says May 27, 2020

Your articles always depicts my exact condition, it’s worth reading.
Thank you Kim.

Anonymous says May 27, 2020

Those memories always seem to linger. I catch myself smiling even, because there was so much laughter and joy in the beginning. Then reality sets in as I remember my “top 5”. The top 5 most rotten things he did that I would never do to a person I claimed to love. They are sick. I get to choose that I don’t want that sickness in my life. Almost 10 months no contact. He tries. I block.

Molly says May 26, 2020

This came at the most perfect time. I was feeling weak and have been remembering him for days all the ways I could’ve been better. How I just want him back regardless of the horrific ways he abused me. I needed to read this post so badly. Thank you for writing it.

Oddly enough, my Nex started really embracing AA around the time I finally went no contact. Much of what you’re talking about is what he said about AA. I love how ironic it is that I’m going to be using the same tactics he taught me about to get him out of my head forever. Good. I want my life back.

Thank you Kim!

Christine Laurins says May 26, 2020

I’m trying to leave after 24 years. I have nothing and no where to go so I’m winging it day by or even minute by minute. It’s making it so hard not to go back. I keep reading all your articles. I signed up for your free classes. I am trying. I am scared. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Someday maybe I’ll be able to totally be free, I hope.

Eileen Brown says May 26, 2020

Thank you Kim! These emails are so helpful and have changed my life! I finally feel like l can break the addiction.

Anonymous says May 26, 2020

Thank you for this. Every email I’ve received has caught me at each step that you’ve shared with me. Sometimes, the wording can be challenging because my narcissist were parents and siblings and past love relationships. So, applying it to family has been a bit more challenging. However, each step has been the confirmation I’ve needed to know what I’m going through is normal process. It’s been hard also suffering through loss of parent grieving and going no contact with family. But, it’s strengthened me. Thank you for this truly helpful support. God bless

SUE FINNERTY says May 26, 2020

Great article! My narcs were from family of origin. I kept a timeline on my PC and every time I wanted to go back I looked at the list. Unfortunately, I did go back once after six years but it taught me a valuable lesson. NC now for a few years. It hasn’t been easy but for my own sanity I know I have done the right thing for ME.

Arnell Brue says May 26, 2020

Everything I’ve read from you is in point for me. I’m in this relapse cycle! Such a drain. Retired, on fixed income but definitely joining your camp on the 1st. Gotta save ME!!!

Jane says May 25, 2020

*Bookmarks this page to read when weakness strikes*

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