Healthy Beginnings

Need to quit drinking? Try The Sinclair Method

Dr. David Sinclair started his research in America during the 1960s. Courtesy photo

Have you ever wanted to drink less alcohol? Have you ever thought you might need to cut back or quit? Have you ever woken up in the morning and hoped you didn’t say or do something rude or embarrassing because you had one too many?

You’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, meaning he or she consumes about seven drinks per binge. This results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually. The CDC even states that most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent.

The high cost of alcohol abuse can lead to job loss, legal problems, family conflict and adverse health outcomes.

Luckily, Dr. David Sinclair developed a remarkable program to curb alcoholism, termed The Sinclair Method (TSM).

TSM is paradoxical to the many rehab programs available that require total abstinence. TSM uses “chemical extinction” to change the drinking habits of an alcoholic or problem drinker.

Using Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist best known for use in opioid overdoses, Dr. Sinclair devised a program to cure alcohol abuse with an unheard of 87% success rate, according to information published at the-sinclair-method.com, which is Dr. Sinclair’s website.

Using the Pavlovian model of conditioning, Dr. Sinclair surmised that, like Pavlov’s dogs who stopped salivating after the bell was rung but no food was given — a process known as “extinction” — alcoholics could also unlearn the learned behavior of addiction to alcohol.

Dr. Sinclair’s research “indicated that alcohol produced reinforcement by releasing endorphins that bind with opioid receptors in the brain. So, a solution to stopping the reinforcement cycle might be to block the receptors every time alcohol was used,” according to his website.

TSM involves having the patient take one tablet 1-2 hours before drinking. The pills chemically disrupt the body’s behavior/reward cycle, causing you to want to drink less instead of more. The opiate receptor blocking effect thus turns the habit-forming behaviors into habit-erasing behaviors.

One caveat is that medicine must be taken every time you drink alcohol. In a few months, most people can cut down alcohol consumption to safe levels and many stop drinking entirely.

TSM has been scientifically validated by multiple studies, and a review of 29 published studies showed “The majority of double-blind clinical trials in the literature favored prescribing naltrexone for alcohol dependence to reduce heavy drinking,” according to a 2006 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

TSM is proven equally effective with or without therapy, and patients can choose whether or not to combine TSM with therapy. TSM has been shown to be so successful that it is now available on the National Health Service in the UK and many other European countries, according to addiction.com.

For further information and resources, American actress Claudia Christian has made a film called “One Little Pill,” filmed a powerful Ted Talk on the subject, and started The C Three Foundation (cthreefoundation.org), which promotes the Sinclair Method.

If you are interested in using TSM for yourself or someone you love, please contact Gerber Medical Clinic for an appointment. We would be honored to help you regain control of your life.

Robert Floyd, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing integrative and functional medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. He is now accepting new patients. Visit www.DrFloyd.org or call 775-826-1900 for more information.