For hundreds of years, humans have battled addiction to alcohol through various methods – AA, in-patient treatment options, medication and sheer force of will. All of these methods require abstinence from alcohol. While they may help alcoholics stop drinking for a period of time, they don’t take away the craving.
Now, there is another way: The Sinclair Method. The Sinclair Method (TSM) is a treatment for alcohol addiction that uses a technique called pharmacological extinction.
What is the Sinclair Method?
Based on the research of Dr. Sinclair, TSM uses a medication called Naltrexone, which is an opiate blocker that curbs habit-forming behaviors, turning them into habit-erasing behaviors. Though this medication has been on the market for decades, it’s Dr. Sinclair’s use of this medication that has had tremendous success.
With the Sinclair method, you are required to take Naltrexone at least one hour prior to consuming your first drink of alcohol. Naltrexone chemically disrupts the body’s behavioral reward system, making you want to drink less instead of more.
Dr. Sinclair’s Research
The founder of TSM began researching the method during the 1960s, establishing what he referred to as the “alcohol deprivation effect” as the root cause of alcohol addiction. He conducted research using genetically bred rats that were predispose to becoming alcoholics. He concluded that alcoholism is a learned behavior before it is anything else. If we reinforce a response or emotion with alcohol, it becomes a learned habit that is more and more difficult for us to kick. From his research, Dr. Sinclair also concluded that some genetic traits lead some people to be more susceptible to needing reinforcement from alcohol as opposed to others. Hence the uncontrollable cravings that come to ruin an alcoholic’s life.
Taking it one step farther, Dr. Sinclair concluded that alcohol produces reinforcement in the brain in a way that’s similar to opiates. A solution, therefore, to breaking this cycle would be to block the reward system receptors every time alcohol was consumed.
What was the solution? To essentially drink yourself sober–with the help of Naltrexone, of course. Taking the pill at least one hour prior to drinking is a central part of TSM.
To date, the Sinclair Method has a 78% success rate. It’s an effective approach to curbing alcohol dependence in a variety of patients today.