The Sinclair Method is treatment for alcoholism that involves the use of the prescription medicine Naltrexone combined with continued consumption of alcohol. The aim of this treatment is to help the patient steadily reduce their craving for alcohol.
When we drink alcohol our body releases endorphins which make us feel happy, this is the body’s reward system for telling us we have done something good or had something we like. Typically when we do activities like exercise, or eat, or take a small risk it triggers the release of endorphins and we get that sense of euphoria.
When we do something repeatedly and get rewarded for it, it is natural for us to want to repeat the same actions to get the same reward which with endorphins is a natural high. As we are drawn to repeating those actions they now become an addiction were the want becomes stronger than the actual need.
Typically we can become addicted to anything that allows for the release of endorphins. This is why we can become addicted to chocolate, sex, smoking and drinking to name but a few. So it is the endorphins informing the body that the actions we took prior to their release are the cause and that the action should be repeated to elevate our mood.
This is where the drug Naltrexone comes into play and why this method of treatment requires the patient to continue drinking. Naltrexone works in the brain by interfering with the reward system it has come to expect when alcohol is consumed.
Naltrexone is an FDA approved drug and when used blocks the receptors in the brain that the endorphins would previously attach to give us the good feeling. As the endorphins are unable to attach to the receptors the patient doesn’t get the same good feeling they used to when they previously consumed alcohol.
The drug is managing to work at the core of the problem which is the addiction. This is why abstinence is not as an effective method for alcoholics, because the true underlying problem of addiction is not being treated. It is quite easy for someone who abstains to be drawn back into alcoholism because in reality they never stopped being an alcoholic.
The addiction occurs when the person can no longer say no to what they are doing, when an alcoholic has a few drinks, they want another and another and another to feed the pleasure their body’s telling them they are getting by continuing to drink.
Naltrexone breaks this loop of feeling pleasure, so the association of feeling good with the action of drinking stops. This allows the patient to have a few drinks and comfortably stop without the feeling that they need any more drink. The drug can be taken as a once a day pill or in a once monthly injection called Vivitrol. The benefit of the injection is that as they only have to take it once a month it is easier to stick with than having to take a pill each day.
The Sinclair Method was founded by Dr. David Sinclair who conducted studies with Naltrexone and found it to be useful in combating alcohol dependency. His two main papers were:
*Targeted Use of Naltrexone Without Prior Detoxification in the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence: A Factorial Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Alcohol and Alcoholism (Oxford Journal of Medicine) 36 (1): 2–10.
*Evidence about the use of naltrexone and for different ways of using it in the treatment of alcoholism. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Oxford Journal of Medicine) 21 (3): 287–292.
The recent book The Cure For Alcoholism by Dr. Roy Eskapa covers the Sinclair Method in detail. You can find it on Amazon. The books description says:
“Introducing a revolutionary solution to alcohol dependence, this study outlines the Sinclair Method, a treatment that combines the prescription medication Naltrexone and the continued consumption of alcohol. Already well known in many parts of Europe, this breakthrough remedy will bring relief to the millions who suffer from addiction or to those who are affected by someone else’s. Topics covered include the hard evidence behind the treatment, moving testimonials from cured alcoholics, interviews from clinics that have adopted the method, and details about Naltrexone.”