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Euphoric Recall - Nuview Treatment Center

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

How Does Euphoric Recall Contribute to Relapse?

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Many view addiction as a physical disease – a physical need to do drugs. Addiction, however, is both physical and psychological. Addiction is such a powerful and challenging disease because both the physical and psychological pathways are at work. Recovery requires both overcoming physical dependence and learning to control your own mind; euphoric recall poses a serious hurdle in attempting to do this. 

Some people believe euphoric recall is the leading cause of relapse. How one remembers their past experiences can profoundly affect their future behavior. Being able to recognize when your thoughts are distorted is essential in avoiding relapse. This blog will discuss what euphoric recall is, how it affects addiction, and ways to overcome it.

What is Euphoric Recall?

Euphoric recall is one’s tendency to remember past experiences as positive and neglect the negatives associated with that memory or event. This has a significant influence on relapse because, when people misremember, it makes them more likely to carry out that behavior again. Thus, it is integral to recognize the risk of euphoric recall and when you may be experiencing it.

Euphoric recall makes using seem like a good idea as one is only remembering the euphoric feeling and overlooking the negative consequences of the use. The euphoric recall relationships within the brain and its effect on contextual processing makes early recovery in particular very dangerous. This is when the AA phrase “play the tape” is important to remember. Although it can be incredibly difficult to remember the painful memories associated with your addiction, it is crucial to remember why you are sober. 

Effects of Euphoric Recall on Addiction

Addiction affects the hippocampus, the structure that forms memories in the brain. The hippocampus is where memories are stored and retrieved and is vital for processing spatial and environmental cues. When you are using, significant changes are made to the brain that affects the hippocampus. These changes disrupt the balance of the brain’s chemistry and impact the way a person processes events and/or stores memories. 

The hippocampus is a significant part of the addiction circuit as it is responsible for resisting impulse, managing anxiety, dealing with stress, forming and recalling memories, creating emotional responses, and forming habits. When changes to the hippocampus are made, the ability to remember memories properly, resist triggers, and manage emotions is made difficult.  In particular, misremembering can lead to triggered impulses, letting down defenses, and rethinking reasons for sobriety. This act of misremembering is the basis of euphoric recall. A single episode of euphoric recall can destroy months, or even years, of recovery work. Being able to recognize when euphoric recall is taking place is essential in avoiding relapse. 

Ways to Overcome Euphoric Recall

An important part of relapse prevention is recognizing when you are experiencing euphoric recall. Being able to identify triggers that may cause euphoric recall and, by extension, result in relapse is integral in remaining sober. Here are some ways to stay on track and overcome euphoric recall.

Get therapy

Oftentimes addiction is motivated by underlying mental health disorders and conditions. Reaching out to a therapist or counselor can help you address the factors that are motivating your addiction and help you find ways to cope with these factors. Through therapy, you can learn to recognize your triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms to minimize your risk of relapse when you are experiencing euphoric recall.

Work the steps

AA can offer you a community to remove your mental obsession with using drugs and/or alcohol. Euphoric recall makes you think of only the positives of using, AA highlights the negative consequences and effects using has. 

Hold yourself accountable

Making sure to talk to someone in your support system when you are experiencing euphoric recall is essential in holding yourself accountable for what euphoric recall could lead to. A good accountability partner can remind you of the negative consequences associated with your use and the positive aspects of being sober. Moreover, someone else can provide you with a more accurate perspective on your use that euphoric recall neglects. 


Journaling can be helpful in remembering your use accurately. If you write your memories and identify the negative consequences of your use, you can go back and read your journal when you experiencing euphoric recall. Eventually, you can train your mind to remember everything about your use, not just distorted memories.

Create a relapse prevention plan

After treatment, it is essential to have an aftercare plan. In order to prepare yourself for relapse triggers, it is important to have a relapse prevention plan in place that can help you stay on track with your recovery. Relapse prevention plans can help you minimize your risk of relapse by identifying your triggers and limiting your exposure to them as much as possible. This plan also will help you find ways to cope with and manage triggers that are not avoidable to help you safeguard your sobriety.

Coping with Euphoric Recall with NuView Treatment Center

If you are having trouble dealing with euphoric recall, NuView Treatment Center may be able to help. NuView, which is based in West Los Angeles, offers outpatient addiction treatment that is designed to give clients the tools they need to recover. The evidence-based treatment programs available at NuView can help clients address the underlying issues, such as mental health disorders and interpersonal problems, that are motivating their addiction. NuView’s rehabs in Los Angeles CA has highly trained staff that can help you create a relapse prevention plan and develop the necessary skills to overcome euphoric recall and stay sober long-term.

Read Further

Relapse After Long Term Sobriety: Tips for Maintaining Long Term Sobriety

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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