If you are currently practicing the Sinclair Method to reduce your drinking and control thoughts associated with alcohol, a little mindfulness goes a long way. Although naltrexone alone can reduce your overall consumption, taking a few proactive measures can help speed the process along.
What Is The Sinclair Method? The Sinclair Method (TSM) is a clinically studied and proven effective option for those who want to realistically control and decrease problematic alcohol use. TSM does not require inpatient detox, rehab, AA or even abstinence. When taking naltrexone an hour before drinking, every time you drink, you become less and less interested in alcohol because naltrexone has blocked the receptors the alcohol would otherwise attach to. Because the alcohol is not able to activate the “reward” system, you don’t get the rush of feel good feelings. Over time, your brain essentially forgets that it enjoys alcohol, because the rewarding effects have ceased. Most people who follow TSM can intentionally (or unintentionally) become completely abstinent without the mental struggle and ongoing white knuckling that is often associated with general abstinence.
It’s important to note that naltrexone and TSM are not magic in and of themselves. Although simply taking the pill at least an hour before you drink, every time you drink, will decrease your consumption and thoughts associated with alcohol, there are plenty of things we recommend patients do to help the process happen as quickly and smoothly as possible.
- Compliance with Dosing – you must be 100% fully committed to taking the pill an hour before you drink, every time you drink.
- Keeping a Drink Log – logging your drinks, in real time, as you are drinking, can help you recognize how quickly you’re drinking, if you’re over-consuming, your specific triggers, and will provide visual feedback regarding your progress. Watching your overall consumption decrease is very rewarding!
- Therapy / Social Support / Self Help – some sort of therapeutic remedy that allows you to openly express your thoughts and feelings without judgement is a very important part of the recovery progress in general. Believe it or not, you can easily find very specific private support groups on Facebook.
- Exercise – physical workouts, meditation, yoga, and being active in general have many health benefits, however it is especially important to do some sort of physical activities on alcohol-free days to boost your endorphins without naltrexone.
- Healthy Habits; Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep – be sure your body is equipped to handle life by eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. Try to find healthier alternatives to your favorite sugary or salty snacks, and eat whole, unprocessed foods. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with water; try drinking an entire bottle of water (at once!) when you wake up in the morning, at lunch and before bed, along with whatever you are drinking throughout the day. Establish healthy sleeping habits; make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night by going to bed at the same time each night and stopping screen use at least an hour before bed.
- Changing and/or Modifying People, Places, and Things – Rid yourself of toxic people. If you have friends or family you always overdrink with, limit the exposure, or try talking more over the phone, or doing activities together where alcohol is not involved, on your AF days.
- Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders – If a mental health condition is driving your drinking, treatment is necessary. Individual therapy is always recommended, however in some cases more in depth psychiatric services may be necessary in getting to the root of the issue.
- Alcohol Free Days – depending where you are in the process, alcohol free (AF) days should be planned, frequent, consistent and consecutive. Always talk to your doctor before attempting AF days or abstinence if you’re a heavy or daily consumer, or have a history of alcohol withdrawal complications.
- Give It Time, and Commit To The Process – Problematic alcohol use didn’t happen overnight, and it will not be cured overnight. Recovery in general is a process that boasts short and long term gratifying milestones along the way.
- Education – ensure that you and your loved ones understand fully what TSM is, how it works, and what to expect along the way. Read the book “The Cure For Alcoholism”, watch the documentary “One Little Pill”, watch Claudia Christian on TedX, then do your own research based on your personal learning preferences.
- ALWAYS carry a nal tab on you. ..We have discreet keychain pill holders for you!
- Drink a bottle of water, or have a protein shake while waiting the hour before your first drink.
- Change your drink of choice.
- Have an alcohol free drink in between alcohol drinks, or alternate each sip between an alcoholic drink and alcohol free drink.
- Don’t keep a surplus of alcohol in the house; only buy what you intend to drink. …Stopping at the store can be a hassle, so you may think twice about stopping at all!
- Buy smaller bottles of alcohol. Better yet, intentionally dilute any liquor immediately upon bringing home.
- Take down, or downsize your bar area at home. Your brain associates visuals with thoughts/habits, so you may be less triggered, or have less thoughts of drinking.
- Do you have a bar, or place in your home that you associate with drinking? Rearrange and redecorate the area! A visual change will help to keep the visual triggers at bay.
- Learn to make your favorite mocktail, and always keep the ingredients at home.
- Progressively introduce low alcohol content into your drinking sessions.
For the wine drinkers..
- Don’t buy the larger quantity boxed wine. Try buying the smaller ½ bottles, or the 4 packs instead of a bottle.
- Change from your preferred type of wine to another that you don’t hate, but don’t love either.
- Buy finer, more expensive bottles than usual; you may be more mindful of excessive consumption, more likely to stick to your max daily drink goals, and likely savor and appreciate the taste more.
- Try wine spritzers: ½ wine, ½ flavored non alcoholic sparkling water. (Lime goes well with all types of wine!)
For the hard liquor drinkers…
- If you can drink ANYTHING other than hard liquor, it is in your best interest to switch to anything else ASAP. If that’s not feasible with your current status, try to alternate alcohol types and certainly try introducing other drinks you enjoy.
- Don’t drink anything straight, and especially not directly from the bottle. Avoid shots at all costs.
- Change something about your preferred drink… a different type of liquor and/or a different mixer.
- Dilute the liquor immediately upon opening the bottle… yes, even before you mix it with a mixer! Start small, something you’re comfortable with, and work your way up as time progresses.
If you are interested to learn more about The Sinclair Method, or treatment for alcohol use in general, getting assistance through an addiction medicine specialist is recommended. A faceted, individualized treatment approach can help you regain control of alcohol use, improve your relationships and quality of life. Start a Live Chat now by clicking the bubble below, and a Recovery Specialist will be with you shortly.
Written By Stevie Nickole Duncan; Director of Operations/Practice Management at North Dayton Addiction and Recovery, East Indiana Recovery; owner of Ohio Addiction Recovery Consulting; Addiction, Behavioral Health and Recovery Specialist.