Anyone heard of the Sinclair method?

ask-a-professional
recovery
alcohol

#1

My partner a severe alcoholic who’s 1 month into sobriety right now after a 15 year struggle has stumbled upon a new method to retrain the alcoholic brain called the Sinclair method. I will post a link with more resources and information about it. It’s a treatment involving a Pharmaceutical drug- Naltrexone which is a reward blocker typically used for opioid addicts. When used for alcoholics with the Sinclair method, they are supposed to keep drinking while taking naltrexone in order to retrain the reward receptors in the brain so with longer use, eventually the cravings and severity of alcohol use can subside.
In my relationship- my partner has tried almost everything available in our community/city with not lasting results. Multiple hospital stays including 2 medical detoxs and two 28day rehab programs, AA is an option but he struggles with the religious aspect of it. He’s willing to give therapy a try as well to dig into the root of his drinking.
My question is after all of that would be, has anybody in this forum heard of the Sinclair method and or has anyone tried it with any results (good or bad) they would be willing to share?
My concerns with my partner are

  1. it’s just an “excuse“ to drink
  2. he won’t comply or follow through with the method/treatment plan
  3. he won’t be honest With myself or his family (we do not live together)
  4. I just don’t trust his word

He wants to try this out because nothing has stuck before and it’s something new that may have good results for him. We’ve been together nearly 4 years and now my boundaries are that when he drinks, I do not want to be around that. So because of this new method, I want to be supportive but it’s very difficult, I know and he knows how quickly he finds the path of destruction when he’s drinking. Also because I choose not to be around him while he’s drinking, this will cut our time together because I don’t want to witness him drinking, even if it’s part of a treatment plan. Do I have to erase this line I’ve drawn in order to make him happy and show my support? He feels that’s unsupportive of me to not be around while he’s doing this. I don’t know what to do to make him feel loved but also respect myself in regards to this.


https://www.centersite.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=11132&cn=14


#2

I can’t seem to recall hearing of this @OKM90, love to hear from anyone else here who has or even better has seen a loved one try it (@Tlee22 did you ever hear about this?)

When my husband has brought up the idea of using marijuana to help with sleep (for context: this was his first drug he experienced serious - psychotic - problems with in high school) and he’s asking for my opinion or support, I’ve found it relatively successful to say things like:
“I’m open to finding something that works for you to get a good night sleep, but I don’t feel like we’ve tried the other options that don’t involve using another substance to solve it. What about we brainstorm options that don’t involve substances (bath, early dinner, exercise during the day etc.) and give whichever one you want to try a go, we can set a time period to measure if it actually helps, and if it doesn’t work we could then go to the substance option?”

As for whether you need to be there to show support, I think you can say you’ll support him to find something that truly works for him, if he won’t consider other options then maybe you support him trying this for a fixed period and ask him to set clear goals for what ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of this method for him would be and at which time period you’ll assess how it is going.

Also, it is 100% fair to express that you support him in finding what works for his recovery, but you can’t be around him while he is drinking and to express the ways you’ll support (eg. setting the clear goal / timeline to measure success of this experiment.) Reminding him, that when he’s drinking he isn’t aware of how it affects you, and you can even be explicit about those negative affects on you. It’s a natural consequence - if he drinks you will stay somewhere else (or whatever that is that you do to keep yourself sane and happy.) Remind him that he wants you sane and happy because then you can best support him too!

These are the types of responses that draw on CRAFT inspired principles from our Course such as: positive communication, goal setting, and the scientific behavior change approach through experimentation to find what works, defining and living within your limits and using natural consequences to shape behavior - shifting away from substance use.


#3

Hi, thanks for sharing this here. Personally, I’ve never heard of the Sinclair method. I think your concerns are totally valid. And valid to have those concerns regardless of the particular treatment plan.

It might be worth him giving this a try and not necessarily because of the chances of success with it, but because sometimes a person has to try everything before they give up or surrender to whatever is holding them back.

I also think that you don’t have to be with him all the time or even actively supporting this new treatment, in order to support him and love him.

I think its significant to note that the line you’ve drawn is between you and his disease, not him. His disease wants everything to go a certain way. He wants to get better, his disease doesn’t want him to stop drinking, he wants you to love and support him and his disease doesn’t want him to see how you’re affected.

Him getting better isn’t about making him happy. Happiness seems more of a long term goal right now.

Support him by letting him know you support what he’s trying to do. And that in order to be supportive of him, you need time to yourself. Trust your gut on when you’ve had enough time with him and what your limits are.

I wish you both well in recovery.


#4

Yes @Jane, my husband kind of tried the Sinclair method, so happy to share with you @OKM90 our experience with it. There’s a couple different ways to use Naltrexone, but when used like this, he was instructed to take it an hour to an hour and a half before his first drink and then he could drink as usual, with the thought being he would drink considerably less because it blocks the pleasure received from that first drink, but he was told it could lose effectiveness after 4-6 hours and he should take another if he was still drinking. And when taken appropriately, it was effective. He tracked his drinks for the first month in between appointments and even though he drank less, he still drank often (at this time, it didn’t help in curbing the desire to drink at all) and there were still many times he would drink 5+ beers in a night, but others when he would lose interest after a few beers, but he still tried daily in most cases to drink. It wasn’t long though before he stopped taking it correctly and would instead take it way before drinking (but so he could say he took it that day) and then start drinking 4-5 hours later when the medication lost most of its effectiveness or just not take it at all. I think this could really work for someone using it in conjunction with other things (maybe therapy, meetings, etc.) or to lessen their overall intake, but this method was not helpful in reaching sobriety for my husband. Naltrexone is the same drug as the injectable drug Vivitrol, which I think lasts one month. We were looking into that before my husband went to inpatient treatment because after the initial shot, he wouldn’t have had to depend on wanting to take the medication. When he went to rehab, they prescribed him Naltrexone to take daily and explained that it can help with cravings if there is a consistent dose in your system. He’s been sober for almost nine months and plans to take it until he reaches one year, as he puts it, just in case it’s been helpful with reducing cravings.

All that aside, it was something he was willing to try and I was grateful for anything he would consider. In the end, it was a step on our journey. For him, when he did quit, it was more evidence that he had tried a million ways to make drinking work for him and it just didn’t work. I was glad he was willing to try something and when it clearly didn’t work for him, we were able to sit down, explore what he had tried and think of some other options. Vivitrol is pricey and can be hard to find in some areas, but it’s also an option to explore if your partner is open to other options.
I know every situation is so different, but hopefully this is helpful.