No upcoming Meetups
What we're about
A monthly social meeting if you are either on or considering doing The Sinclair Method for Alcohol Use Disorder. This is a place to discuss progress, set-backs, insights, and tips as well as a fun social event with similar (or different) people going through similar (or different) things.
DISCLAIMER: If you are abstinent, congratulations, that is more than welcome at these meetings. At the same time, if you are protecting yourself (as I will be) with naltrexone and have a drink that is fine as long as it is moderate/safe/non-disruptive. Finally, if you are new, still a drinker, and need information, there will not be judgements made if you were to have a drink without naltrexone (same rules- moderate/safe/non-disruptive).
What is The Sinclair Method (TSM)?
TSM is a way of deleting alcohol addiction from your brain. When you drink, you release endorphins (endogenous morphine) that bind to opioid receptors and result in a cascade of events that fool the brain into receiving an award. This results in reinforced learning where the events you have done prior to that false reward (driving to liquor store, going to a bar, feeling sad, feeling happy, etc.) become hardwired to both happen more often and to lead to alcohol consumption. It's that random thought out of the blue that pesters you throughout your day: I really need a drink right now. A non-drinker doesn't get that random thought. Remember, whether how young you may have been, you didn't always have to drink whenever you felt sad or wanted to have a good time, this was a behavior reinforced by your reward center (aka the definition of creating an addiction). Individuals who end up alcoholics are either more genetically predisposed to this type of learning or have secondary diagnoses that result in heavy consumption leading to abnormal award reinforcement.
By taking naltrexone, an opiate blocker, one hour before drinking, you block your endorphins from activating your reward center during alcohol consumption. This results in a very strong mechanism known in psychology as extinction that deletes behaviors that are no longer providing a reward to your brain; the brain has the ability for much more plasticity than other alcohol programs, and psychologists had previously thought. TSM is a powerful treatment that has the ability to return your brain to that of a non-drinker in 4-12 months as long as you continue drinking when you have a craving, but must be at least one hour after taking the opiate blocker, naltrexone. Every craving that is followed by naltrexone+ 1 hour+ drinking is a chance to further delete alcohol addiction from your brain.
Why do you have to wait one hour between taking naltrexone and drinking?
It takes about an hour for naltrexone to incorporate into your blood stream, pass the blood brain barrier, and block the opiate receptors in your brain.
Why do you have to drink after taking naltrexone?
You don't HAVE to drink if you decide not to after taking naltrexone, you just won't make any progress. Naltrexone on it's own has no psychoactive effects (it has been wrongly prescribed in the past due to a misunderstanding of how the drug works); therefore taking it without drinking will not cause harm but will not chip away at your addiction. The combination of naltrexone + drinking is what teaches your brain that these various behaviors: driving to the liquor store, pounding a glass of wine, etc. no longer provide an award, hence activating the extinction mechanism to delete alcohol addiction from your brain. We are lucky we have the extinction mechanism or else we would be doing all kinds of crazy things that maybe once gave us an award but now no longer do.
What does drinking feel like on naltrexone?
It still feels pretty good, there's a little less of an initial endorphin rush, but it is relaxing, un-inhibiting, and still results in loss of motor control, etc. so one must still be careful of the usual problems: driving, etc. I have had some very fun nights out and about with friends while drinking on naltrexone. Actually, these nights are much more fun because naltrexone blocks the monster in your head (MORE, MORE, MORE), so the pill is like your insurance that you are less likely to make a fool of yourself or suffer an incredible hangover the next day. Especially after being on the treatment for a month or two in which you have majorly began breaking up the addictive hard-wiring of your brain, drinking on naltrexone is an enjoyable experience.
Does naltrexone have side effects?
For myself, no, especially after adjusting to it for a couple of days. Other people say it can make them a little nauseated on an empty stomach (eat a little meal before). It is a non-addictive, safe drug. Also remember, as you progress with TSM, and eventually reach extinction, you will be drinking maybe 0-2 days a week so you will hardly ever need to take the pill.
What does extinction feel like?
Extinction is hard to explain. One day you will wake up and alcohol will just be this weird thing you used to do and waste a lot of time thinking about. It will no longer hold any power over you, your brain is once again that of a non-drinker, you are the REAL YOU again. At this point you have the choice to go completely abstinent or drink on occasion as long as naltrexone is in your system when you drink so as to protect yourself from reinforcing addictive behavior via your reward center.
Sounds too good to be true, what's the catch?
There really is no catch, this treatment has an 80% success rate via many, many clinical trials including one of the largest clinical trials ever on addiction called project COMBINE. The 20% failure was related to non-drug adherence as well as attributed to around 10% of individuals who do not respond to the therapy and are thought to have a different shape opiate receptor or different addiction pathway. It is the gold standard for alcohol addiction in countries like Finland. Unfortunately, people can not make very much money off of the treatment as it can be done at home without psychotherapy, via a cheap medication, and without expensive detox as taking the medication will slowly detox somebody without any effort. The alcohol and rehab industry is a HUGE money maker in the US, and many mouths may go unfed if this treatment were to take off. Lastly, there is a culture that began in the 30's with Alcoholic's Anonymous that abstinence is the only way. In no way am I looking down on AA, it is just an old belief system that works for a very small number of people and does not incorporate new scientific evidence. AA is a great tool for many, and I think in a perfect world someday AA and TSM could be combined to provide incredible results of both deleting the physiological addiction and providing a healing environment for the soul that has been ravaged by alcohol. This is why I want to create a social group around TSM.
How do you get naltrexone?
You can feel your doctor out to see if he/she would prescribe it for you. The medication is now generic and cheap. There are also TSM-specific practitioners that you can make an appointment with who can prescribe the medication over webcam/phone/in-person meeting. These practitioners can be found at the C3 website below or via google. Also feel free to ask me.
For information on TSM, follow the links below:
Claudia Christian Ted Talk:
The Sinclair Method website:
Read The Cure for Alcoholism free online (pretty much the TSM bible and a must-read even if you don't want to do TSM but want to understand what addiction really is and how it happened to you):
Watch the documentary about TSM and hear first-hand success stories, 'One Little Pill:'
Options Save Lives TSM Forum: