Sinclair Method: Has The Cure For Alcohol Addiction Been Kept A Secret?

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The Sinclair Method

Before we go any further, cards on the table. I do not endorse or recommend the Sinclair Method for problem drinkers!

Fans of the Sinclair Method get very upset at even the whiff of such a put-down but I will explain why later in the post.

Right now let’s explore what the Sinclair Method is and how it is used to treat alcoholism.

What is the Sinclair Method:

The Sinclair Method entails taking a basic tablet, like the prescribed medicine naltrexone (trademark name: Revia), about sixty minutes before you drink alcohol. Gradually, the medicine decreases the urge to consume alcohol. The tablet has no other noticeable impact without drinking and it is non-addictive.

Although some report that the side effects are quite unpleasant and difficult to deal with.

the sinclair method

Dr. David Sinclair

How the ‘Method’ Began

Dr. Sinclair began his analysis in The U.S.A. throughout the 1960s. He developed what he named the “alcohol deprival consequence” as a propelling power in alcoholism. He eventually relocated to Helsinki, Finland, to take his study onward using specially bred rodents genetically disposed to ending up being alcoholic.

The result of Sinclair’s studies?

That alcohol addiction is a mastered behavior or if you prefer, a learned addiction.

When a reaction or feeling has been “strengthened” with drinking over an amount of time it is mastered. Many individuals (and several rodents) have hereditary characteristics that lead them to experience a great deal of “reinforcement” from drinking alcohol, that ultimately develops irrepressible desires.

Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov

Pavlovian conditioning

Sinclair was affected by the work of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, well-known for making dogs drool when a dinger was sounded.

When trained, dogs treated with food after an alarm had been sounded would drool at the sound of the alarm on its own. Gradually, Pavlov would sound the alarm, but he quit compensating the dogs with snacks; the drooling lessened.

This is called “elimination” and Sinclair believed the mastered habits of a dependency to drinking might be eliminated by elimination, as well.

Drinking is a learned addiction

Following his initial study, Sinclair speculated that drinking generates reinforcement in the mind in a manner that resembles narcotics.

His study suggested that drinking created reinforcement by discharging endorphins that tie with opioid receptors in the human brain. So a remedy to preventing the reinforcement pattern may be to obstruct the receptors each time alcohol was taken.

lab rats alcohol testing

Testing on lab rats

Success with lab rats

Sinclair examined his concept on rodents making use of naltrexone, a narcotic blocker, and afterward, he performed medical tests on human beings. The outcomes stimulating.

The remedy uncovered by Sinclair appropriately implies you need to drink yourself clean!

This would certainly be the ideal remedy for numerous problem drinkers and is most likely a remedy I might have succeeded at. “Elimination” of the instinct to consume alcohol occurs gradually and benefits around 80% of individuals who use the technique correctly.

You have to remember to take the pill

It’s essential to keep in mind that you take the tablet an hour prior to alcohol consumption, not just when you feel like it. Gradually, the need to drink alcohol will decrease and folks wind up refraining the majority of the time or periodically have an alcoholic beverage when they want.

You have to carry on taking the medicine prior to drinking alcohol, even when you feel factors are in control.

There are a handful of individuals who do not appear to react to the medicine, and some people might have excessive liver injury to make use of this therapy.

The problem with taking any drug is it is going to do harm somewhere in your body.

medication for alcoholism

Not a quick fix

The Sinclair Method is not a silver bullet and may take several months to have the intended impact. For some, it will be a total failure, but that is true of any approach.

Some claim that this might be the future of alcohol addiction therapy. It is popular in the United States to call alcohol addiction a “disease” and this appears to be dealing with it as one.

It will take some time for individuals to acknowledge this kind of a revolutionary principle, as it does violate the total sobriety strategy that the majority of therapy facilities recommend people to use.

Sober is great but sometimes tricky

Sobriety is fantastic if you can control it, but unfortunately, the majority of people with a severe challenge do not regularly succeed.

Folks I chat with who use the Sinclair Method frequently state how they battled with the more conventional remedies; I can understand that. I tried Naltrexone and other drugs and it just wasn’t for me. The side effects were too horrible to endure, I will come onto that in a moment.

I was fortunate that I managed to quit with my own unique approach.

I believe Bill Wilson might have accepted of Sinclair’s work; it goes without saying, he himself messed around with niacin as well as LSD in an attempt to enhance rehabilitation from alcohol addiction.

AA does not endorse the method

In section 3 of the AA Big Book, it mentions, “Physicians who are acquainted with alcohol addiction concur there is no such thing as making a regular drinker from an alcoholic. Research might someday achieve this, but it hasn’t done this yet.” That was recorded the 1930s and Sinclair could well have ultimately accomplished this.

I believe if this option had been found in Wilson’s lifetime he might have perhaps backed it. Sadly, AA does not appear to support any of the new options that have been established since Bill died, which is unfortunate, as it is the best institution to hit the biggest amount of folks requiring support.

effect of alcohol on dna

More research required

Actually, I believe it will take some time for this option to acquire broader approval, particularly in the United States, where the therapy market appears controlled by Twelve-step program theory.

The Sinclair Method is becoming prominent in other nations and is now offered on the NHS in the United Kingdom, in addition to being used substantially in Scandinavian regions like Sweden, with good results.

It is getting recognition in third world countries that do not have a pre-existing Twelve-step program rehabilitation therapy market.

It is a more affordable remedy compared with inpatient rehabilitation and this will be appealing to nations without the facilities to sustain a hospital stay for lots of people.

Why I don’t recommend the method

I don’t recommend AA, purely and simply because I tried it and it didn’t work for me. I do not recommend or endorse Sinclair’s alcohol addiction approach for the exact same reason.

People get very upset when you criticize the approach that worked for them, and I understand why. Beating alcohol addiction is such a monumental and significant process – we can’t help but get very passionate about it.

The method we used in all likelihood saved our lives.

4 stages of alcoholism and recovery

Why it didn’t work for me

There are many reasons why I believe the concept of taking a drug to cure a drug problem is fundamentally flawed:

  1. You have to ‘remember’ to take the tablet – I slowly started relaxing when I would take it and when I would treat myself
  2. Taking a tablet does not deal with the underlying reason why you are drinking
  3. Drugs do not change the subconscious beliefs you have around alcohol – it will always remain a magical, mystical liquid that you are not allowed anymore.
  4. All prescription medication comes with side effects and harm to the body. For me, the side effects of Naltrexone were significantly worse than the most awful hangover I ever had. It’s hard to take a pill that makes you feel that bad and then steals the pleasure of drinking.

The drug-free alternative

stop drinking courseAA is not for everybody and the Sinclair Method is not for everybody either. The same holds true of my own approach. However, I have seen thousands of problem drinkers get back in control of their lives quickly, easily and without having to take a dangerous prescription drug in the process.

If you want more information on my approach, click here.


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Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert

About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice. More information: Complete 'how to stop drinking course information.

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