I read with great interest Robin Rage’s story about pharmaceutical-supported alcohol mitigation [“The No-Step Program,” Sept. 2016]. I appreciate that the story touched on The Sinclair Method briefly, but I feel like there’s still a lot of emphasis on naltrexone and similar drugs being used to support abstinence. Science and common sense point to abstinence actually being a terrible path for some people with alcohol-abuse issues, only reinforcing and encouraging binge behaviors as the body increasingly craves the forbidden substance.
I’m the owner of a successful business in Portland, and I’ve struggled for years to balance a crippling binge-drinking habit with my desire to run a functional company and be a good partner and father at home. Things hit a real low about a year ago, and I started looking for other options, outside of AA. I kept thinking, “I’m a smart guy — why can’t I just intellectualize this problem and find a solution?”
The answer is that my brain has been building efficient pathways for alcohol abuse for years. It’s beyond intellectual, it’s an ingrained behavior. I have been unwittingly training my brain to crave, need, plan for, and exist around the consumption of alcohol. What I found is that there is a way to break that cycle through pharmacological extinction.
I discovered The Sinclair Method at a very low point in my drinking life. I was pulled in by the promise of a return to drinking like a “normal person,” and the science behind the method made sense to me. I watched One Little Pill, a documentary about The Sinclair Method, while lying hungover in bed. I asked my wife to watch it with me that night after we got our son to bed. A week later, I asked my doctor for a prescription for naltrexone. My doctor was supportive, and I was off on my journey.
I had a couple of false starts, to be sure. It’s not a miracle pill. You can’t half-ass it, and you can’t mail it in. The simple premise you need to follow (every time you drink, forever) is to take a pill one hour before you drink. Wait that full hour, and drink as you normally would, with some added consideration for how it’s making you feel. Try to take your time. Keep track of how much you’re drinking from day to day, and from week to week. Try to build up a few alcohol-free days every week. Over time, you’ll see the number of drinks you consume decline. You’ll find yourself not finishing drinks, not going back for the second or third round, and reaching for a drink out of habit less and less often.
A huge part for me was consulting outside support, in the form of an open-minded substance-abuse counselor. He wasn’t familiar with The Sinclair Method, but he was familiar with harm reduction and behavior modification. He was willing to work with me on this program, and his objective support has been instrumental in framing my successful path. Still, therapy isn’t necessary for everyone. The drug does most of the heavy lifting.
Six short months later, I’m comfortable declaring victory. I’m confident in saying, “I’m cured.” I’m still seeing my therapist, and I will always take naltrexone before I drink, but I finally feel like I have control of my drinking and my life — a complete turnaround. I feel like I’ve done it in a smart, modern way, without religious dogma, social stigma, or outdated, guilt-based abstinence programming.
I came way too close to throwing away everything good in my life. I feel like I can say, without exaggeration, that The Sinclair Method saved my life. I feel lucky to have discovered the method when I did, and it was certainly not because mainstream media was talking about it. More people need to know about this option. If I can do anything for any person who wants to learn more, I am dedicated to doing everything I can to steer folks in the right direction.
I started an anonymous inbox at sinclairinME@gmail.com, and I welcome any and all inquiries and conversations. The C3 Foundation (cthreefoundation.org) is dedicated to providing information and access to The Sinclair Method. The Options Save Lives forum (optionssaveslives.freeforums.net) is an invaluable resource to support those on the method. One Little Pill spells out The Sinclair Method and offers advice from real-life practitioners. Watch it, watch how easy it seems for the people who take part, and know that it could be you in that position. You can rent the video on Vimeo (visit onelittlepillmovie.com), or e-mail me via the anonymous inbox I started. I have a copy I’m willing to lend out.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to alcohol abuse, but studies have shown that The Sinclair Method is effective for about 80 percent of participants. Of those successful cases, a small percentage naturally become abstinent, but abstinence is never a decree. If you’re concerned about your drinking, it’s worth doing some research about naltrexone and asking your doctor for a prescription.
The Bollard has granted the author anonymity to protect his privacy.