THE SINCLAIR METHOD SHOULD BE USED MORE OFTEN
The Sinclair Method for alcohol addiction is a treatment that could help many people if more physicians in the US realized that it existed. It was developed in Finland, and is an accepted medical treatment over there. The Sinclair Method involves taking one 50mg pill of naltrexone in a specific way. It is taken once daily, and it must be taken one hour before drinking. Over time, the medication diminishes the desire to drink. The eventual diminished desire to drink only occurs when the naltrexone is repeatedly and consistently taken one hour before drinking. The maximum dosage per day is one 50mg tablet. The naltrexone is not taken on non-drinking days.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SINCLAIR METHOD
Dr. David Sinclair started doing his research in America during the 1960s. He later moved to Helsinki, Finland, where his research about naltrexone and alcoholism continued. Dr. Sinclair eventually concluded that alcoholism is a learned behavior in individuals with genetic traits that make them susceptible to alcoholism. Dr. Sinclair found that it is learned when a positive response or emotion from drinking has been “positively reinforced” over a period of time. The genetic traits that make someone susceptible to become an alcoholic causes them to feel a lot of “positive reinforcement” from consuming alcohol, which eventually creates uncontrollable cravings.
Dr. Sinclair was influenced by the work of the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov. Dr. Pavlov is famous for the experiment where he made dogs salivate when a bell was sounded. Once “conditioned”, dogs rewarded with food after a bell had been rung would salivate at the sound of the bell alone. This is known as “classical conditioning”. After a period of time, Dr. Pavlov would ring the bell, but stop rewarding the dogs with food at the same time. The dogs salivating eventual tapered off. This is called “extinction”. Dr. Sinclair then hypothesized that the learned behavior of an addiction to alcohol could be removed by extinction as well.
HOW THE SINCLAIR METHOD WORKS
Dr. Sinclair hypothesized that alcohol produces positive reinforcement in the brain in a way that is similar to opioids (narcotic painkillers). His research showed that alcohol produced positive reinforcement by releasing endorphins that bind with opioid receptors in the brain. Activating these receptors causes a release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure, reward, and euphoria. Dr. Sinclair reasoned that a solution to stopping the reinforcement cycle might be to block the receptors every time alcohol was used. Dr. Sinclair then tested his theory using naltrexone, an opioid blocker, with very positive results.
The main goal with the Sinclair Method is to achieve the process of extinction for cravings for alcohol. With extinction, when a behavior which was pleasurable and positively reinforcing, becomes less pleasurable and less positively reinforcing, the behavior gradually stops occurring. This gradual process eventually leads to less cravings and less desire for alcohol. The goal with the Sinclair Method is to eventually enable people to either stop drinking or to moderate their drinking. The success rate with the Sinclair Method can be as high as 80% in people who consistently use the method properly.
If you would like more information about alcoholism treatment, call me directly for a phone consultation at (646) 713-6578. Thank-you.