An update about my videos

Hi everyone.

So I’m still doing these YouTube videos occasionally. They’ve proved to be surprisingly popular, actually – which has taken me aback, since they started off as just a little experiment (just as “add-on” material to embed onto this site), but my YouTube channel has sorta taken on a life of its own.

I’ve had some fun doing them. I’ve especially enjoyed recording the video podcasts that I’ve done with Claudia Christian, Robert Rapplean and Katie Lain Goyatton (note to self: need to nag my old friend Joanna Duyvenvoorde into doing one with me, as she’s a great speaker).

I will say this about the videos, though: I need to do something about all the “ums and ahs” and instances of “y’know” after every other few sentences. It’s like a nervous tic that I have – it’s a bit distracting, actually.

The term for this type is “speech disfluency” and it’s something that’s extremely common – most people do it, but some of us do it more than others.

Anyway, I’ll leave things there. Hope you get something out of the video. I am indeed taking a bit of a step back with a lot of the TSM stuff these days and instead trying to help new voices find a platform, so if you’ve got a story you want to tell please do feel free to reach out.

 

Peace and love,

x

Gary

 

My thoughts on Steve W. and the After Dark Facebook Live show

Firstly, a big hello to all of my regular readers – I hope you’re both doing well! (haha). I want to write a little bit about a friend of mine called Steve W. and his Facebook Live show, After Dark. This is a show produced through Rule62 (see: https://www.facebook.com/Rule62Live) and shared to 5 other Facebook pages including the Fuck Heroin Foundation.

A screen capture of the After Dark Facebook Live show
A screen capture of the After Dark Facebook Live show, hosted by Steve W. (note: this image has been edited to preserve the anonymity of the show’s commentators)

But first of all, time for an update:

Okay, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated this blog. Quite honestly, there hasn’t been that much to report.

In terms of all of my little hobbies… well, I’ve been trying to teach myself some basics with HTML using LinkedIn Learning and I’ve also recently revisited Adobe Photoshop, trying to master a graphics tablet that had become an ornament collecting dust on my shelf for the last two years.

I also set a new personal record by hitting the 130kg mark for my bench press at the gym, which is kind of cool (I think I’ll get up to 140kg in the next few months), but it is a bit draining; I often find that I’m pretty much physically and mentally f@cked after these brutal training sessions. Still, it’s good therapy. The fact is, after my mom was murdered two years ago I desperately needed a safe way to vent… a place where I could just go berzerk, throw weights around and smack the sh*t out of some punch bags. So for me the gym has provided the perfect sanctuary for my own particular primal scream. I’d go so far as to say that it’s saved my life, in fact. I don’t know how I would have kept as sane as I have without that catharsis. It’s become a way of purging myself.

As for the website and the YouTube channel, I have a few things lined up – a couple of podcast interviews and Dominik has promised a sequel to his last article on here. So things are ticking over nicely.

Okay, I think we’re up to date now. Time to get back to Steve:

I first connected with Steve as a result of my interest in the (sadly missed) recovery juggernaut that was Morris Rosenbaum-Benda and got chatting with him over Facebook Messenger. We chatted a bit and the truth is I liked Steve pretty much straight away. The indelible impression that I was left with was of a smart, funny man with a deep level of compassion for people struggling with addiction. And someone who’d seen a bit of the world, too – for instance, though he currently resides in Florida he’d worked for a time in the UK for the addiction treatment service Turning Point.

Despite Steve having had a different addiction and recovery experience than myself (i.e. Steve’s experience has been with Narcotics Anonymous, whilst I found The Sinclair Method after having drifted away from AA some years ago), we seemed to hit it off quite well… which is refreshing, because it’s got to be said that there’s often this weird tribalism that goes on in the recovery world with all of these different factions that are often very opposed to each other… something that puts me in mind of 16th century feudal Japan, with all these different warlords (or daimyo) ruling the roost in different territories. That probably sounds like an absurd comparison, but believe me when I say that there’s certain addiction treatment-themed Facebook forums where I’d immediately be attacked simply because I got well using The Sinclair Method. I’m seen as fair game for abusive behaviour simply based on the strength of other people’s biases and for the fact that I am “on their territory”, you see.

What’s really sad about this is that after this happens enough times you end up constantly being on your guard whenever you communicate with anyone who is an advocate of a different treatment method. And thus, to use another comparison, you run the risk of becoming a walled state yourself…  you run the risk of becoming North Korea when it comes to your attitude towards outsiders.

But not with Steve, I’m pleased to say.

He has been a breath of fresh air and has been really great to speak to. I cannot recommend his After Dark show highly enough. It is really well produced and Steve is a natural host with a relaxed, warm demeanour. The format that it adopts is not dissimilar to a radio phone-in, whereby people leave comments or even ring Steve (should they wish to) for a live conversation using Messenger. His regular followers (or “The After Dark Army” as they have become known) are also a decent bunch… just a nice group of people.

What’s striking is that Steve is up to his 674th show (674th!). Now that’s devotion. That level of dedication says something. It says you’re the real deal when it comes to wanting to help people and provide a haven. In fact, it’s the type of thing that would have really helped me back when I was struggling.

At the risk of turning this article into a novella, given what I’ve already mentioned about some of the crap I’ve endured on some forums I’d like to close with something that I tripped over in my newsfeed yesterday evening – an article on Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s campaign to make the web a safer place by urging governments, companies and private individuals to sign up to a contract to use the internet in a more responsible way  (see:  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/05/tim-berners-lee-launches-campaign-to-save-the-web-from-abuse).

To quote from the article, Berners-Lee says:

Humanity connected by technology on the web is functioning in a dystopian way. We have online abuse, prejudice, bias, polarisation, fake news, there are lots of ways in which it is broken. This is a contract to make the web one which serves humanity, science, knowledge and democracy

My own thoughts on this? I think it’s a great idea. Whilst I champion freedom of speech, it should never be used as something to cowardly hide behind as a licence to abuse other people – there has to be some accountability. Alas, the situation that we often have is the well documented online disinhibition effect whereby people become oddly removed from the consequences of their behaviours on the internet and speak to other people in a manner that they wouldn’t dare to outside of cyberspace.

Oh well. That’s enough from me, I think. As ever, it’s been a blast writing again.

 

Peace and love

x

Gary

Dominik’s Journey with The Sinclair Method

Introducing Dominik G.

One of the most gratifying things about writing and vlogging about The Sinclair Method these last 5 years has been the many wonderful people that I have become acquainted with and the privilege that I have had to hear their stories. Dominik is one such person. A Polish ex-pat living in the UK and a relative “newbie” to TSM, I first became acquainted with Dominik on my YouTube channel and we quickly established a really good, fun rapport. I have come to find that one of the things that I most enjoy about my YouTube channel is the comments section. I love engaging with people on it and I took a real interest in Dominik’s story, recently asking him whether I could use his drink diaries and drink graph for this website – and also asking him to write a little biography about himself, his struggles with alcohol addiction and how he came to use The Sinclair Method. Dominik writes:
‘I have been drinking everyday for the past 10+ years. I have had some periods in the past where I remained abstinent for a couple of months but it never came out from me. I was just afraid to lose girlfriends. Even though after a few months of being abstinent I was always the first to arrange barbeques or parties just to have a drink. My desire to drink was higher during abstinent periods. I am a beer drinker, although in the past I was on vodka for a while. So after losing another girlfriend due to my drinking habit in October last year I realised I had a problem that I couldn’t handle by myself. I started to look on the web to see how I could help myself with this addiction. That day I didn’t find anything about TSM. I didn’t even think that there was something like TSM. The first things I found were related to AA, being an alcoholic and not touching alcohol for the rest of my life. I was ashamed to call myself an alcoholic, therefore I joined an online AA forum just to have contact with people who suffer from AUD (which is what I now call it instead of “alcoholism). I also visited my local wellbeing centre Compass, which helps people to recovery from alcohol addiction. For a few months I had ups and downs. My longest AF [alcohol free] period was 3 weeks. I couldn’t pass that barrier. Straight after that AF period I dived into daily drinking again for around 2 months. Average 6 beers a day. I was getting depressed while drinking and feeling brilliant on my AF days. In march on my holiday in Poland I went to my first AA meeting. I was surprised to see normal people, some of them even younger then me who looked “normal”. I did like it there and it kept me away from alcohol for nearly 3 weeks while I was on my holiday. I attended a couple more times before I came back to the UK. I was energised back then, but after I came back the demon woke up. Of course I had to catch up so I was devastating myself with beers. I couldn’t stand the fact that there is nothing there to help me – only AA, and that “I am an alcoholic” on every step was making me feel like shit. After the holiday I had ups and downs again. I went to few meetings in the UK, but I did not feel that energy like at the beginning. It was more like a sad atmosphere making me feel evn more sad and wanting to drink, so after a few meetings I literally went to the shop to get some alcohol. Finally on one of my appointments at Compass I found a leaflet about naloxone. I came back home and googled it. Naltrexone popped out into my eyes and your video on Youtube. So I started to watch you, Claudia, Katie and I found a book [The Cure for Alcoholism]. It got to me straight away. I was and I still am energised and motivated by TSM. I had to wait a couple of weeks until I got my nalmefene, but during this time I was studying the book and teaching myself about TSM so that I knew that I would be ready and have the knowledge to succeed. Since I started TSM on 16th of June my drinking dropped massively. By now it’s down by almost 80%. I also practice mindful drinking and always take my tablet at least 1 hour before. I came back to my old hobbies, started to enjoy everything without alcohol and I am on my own. I have no girlfriend who can tell me to stop or we will break up. I have no one here, yet I was able to stand up on my own and do it. I am grateful for TSM and I have no words to describe how happy I am now. I started to control my drinking and I quit drinking during the week, moving to weekend sessions only. I also started to drink as late as possible, which can be seen in the last weekend of my drink diary where units are very low. So my long term goal is to become abstinent, but I am focusing first to decrease drinking below UK safe limit of 14 units. I couldn’t be much more happier than now. Its been 6 weeks and I cant believe how my relationship to alcohol has changed. I even keep beer at home and I can say to myself “I don’t feel like having a drink. Even if I wanted to, I don’t want to feel rough in the morning. I will wait till the weekend”. And its working ! I can do my stuff and don’t think about drinking. It is letting me go. Thank you Dr. Sinclair!’
Despite some concerns that Dominik mentioned to me around the fact that English is only his second language, this is a very good testimonial that’s quite easy to follow – but what really got my attention was the extinction graph and drink diaries that Dominik shared with me:
Dominik’s Extinction graph. Click on image to see a full-sized version in a new tab
Wow. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, right? Just look at the difference between that first point on the chart (the week before Dominik started TSM) which shows a massive intake of 117.5 British units of alcohol for that week… and then, fast-forwarding through time, where he’s at by week 6… consuming just 12.5 units on that particular week. As is typical, there’s been some little peaks along the way, but the overall trend has been one of quite a sharp reduction over the course of 7 weeks. For a more detailed day-to-day breakdown, here are Domink’s drink diary entries (again, click on this image to see a much bigger version in a new tab on your browser): Dominik's drink diaries These are really good, aren’t they? What’s interesting is that Dominik chose to also list how much he spent on each drinking session, which gives an interesting picture of how his spending has decreased a great deal over all these weeks. I really look forward to seeing what the pattern’s like another 6 weeks from now (ha! I feel a follow-up article coming in the not-so-distant future… “Domink’s Journey: Part 2”!). Many thanks, once again, to Dominik G. for making this article possible. It’s been a blast collaborating with you on this, Dom. Okay, that’s it for now. For anyone who might be interested, click HERE to check out my old extinction graph and drink diaries.

Jeff Kamen and Gary Bell discuss The Sinclair Method and MARA

Hello readers and welcome to this special interview with Jeff Kamen, a licenced chemical dependency counsellor based in Austin, Texas and the administrator of the Your Choice Recovery and Medication Assisted Recovery Anonymous – MARA Facebook pages.

Jeff Kamen. Licenced chemical dependency counsellor and administrator of the Your Choice Recovery and MARA Facebook pages.
Jeff Kamen. Licenced chemical dependency counsellor and administrator of the Your Choice Recovery and MARA Facebook pages.

Jeff quite interests me because (unlike many counselors I’ve crossed paths with in the past) he’s not fixated upon any one particular paradigm – “because one size does not fit all” in his view – and he’s really quite interested in modern treatments such as The Sinclair Method.

As he says on his Your Choice Recovery Facebook page:

“One particular avenue which deserves to be noted up front is The Sinclair Method which boasts – and rightly so – a 78% success rate of turning heavy drinkers or people with AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) into moderate, safe drinkers. Whether or not you come to Your Choice Recovery to meet with a counselor, I highly recommend that you take a good look at the Cthreefoundation.org website. You will find a great deal of information about how The Sinclair Method works. In addition, any videos by Claudia Christian about TSM are worth watching, especially her 50-minute documentary, One Little Pill. The book The Cure for Alcoholism by Dr. Roy Eskapa describes a medically proven way to eliminate alcohol addiction. If we determine that TSM is appropriate in your case, as your counselor, I will help you keep a drink log, remain compliant, discuss any unforeseen obstacles which may arise. You may want total abstinence as your goal. There are many ways to achieve it. I will be happy to describe each one for you in order to help you choose the best route for you!”


 

Gary:

Hi Jeff,

So just carrying on from our conversation over Messenger I’d like to again thank you for agreeing to this interview… and I think the question I asked (“What’s wrong with you?? You’re a treatment provider who actually wants to CURE people?!? Don’t you realise what such a good gig you’ve got going with the revolving door thing – why do you want to do yourself out of a job?!???”) is probably quite a fun place to start. 

Okaaaay… over to you, Jeff. 🙂

 

Jeff:

I would love if everyone were cured.  However if TSM grows and becomes accepted by the mainstream recovery community, including doctors, judges, counselors, etc., there remains issues which can then be brought up.  One such issue is that TSM is being used for alcohol use disorder.  At this point if an addict tries TSM I believe he will be able to drink (alcohol) moderately, however he will still crave drugs.  There is no program presently in existence in which TSMers can speak about problems they’re having. 

The case I am making is that even among the advocates of TSM, I don’t feel that it is accepted for a drug addict/alcoholic to do TSM.  As a chemical dependency counselor who is totally behind TSM, I still only offer to help someone with it if they have no other drug abuse history.  There needs to be a program that will help a person follow TSM while working some sort of program of recovery for their drug use history.  Imagine going to a 12-step program where it’s okay to talk about your usage of TSM, while still working a program of recovery on the other addictions.  Presently, AA (even though drugs are an “outside issue”) does not consider a person sober if they use drugs.  Conversely, NA doesn’t consider someone sober if they drink alcohol.  I hope that wasn’t too confusing. 

To more simply answer your question Gary, I would gladly find another career path if there were no more need for drug counselors.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon.

 

Gary:

Regarding your comment “even among the advocates of TSM, I don’t feel that it is accepted for a drug addict/alcoholic to do TSM…”… that’s an interesting point, but according to chapter 15 of The Cure for Alcoholism (“The Sinclair Method as a Blueprint for Treating Other Addictions”) doesn’t TSM also have applications for things like opiate, amphetamine and cocaine addiction?

 

Jeff:

Using TSM for Amphetamine, Cocaine Opiate Use Disorders is promising. It would be difficult to work on them together. “I took my Naltrexone an hour ago so now I’ll go shoot a Speedball (usually Cocaine with heroin).” We know the heroin may have no effect after taking an Opiate antagonist. The Cocaine may work similar to alcohol in the way of Pharmacological Extinction. It gets confusing. I doubt, at this point in time, a doctor will write a prescription for anything with dosing directions stating “Take this pill one hour before shooting Cocaine (or other chemicals).” Perhaps an addict who got the medication some other way, might try it. If they did, the method may very well work (with full compliance). Many addicts have multiple addictions. The addiction to mood-altering Substances simply became an addiction to “More.” (Anything that changes my mood and I like the feeling, I want More!) To avoid present-day confusion and controversy with Pharmacological Extinction, it would be easier to have a more accepted method of recovery in place but modified to include TSM’ers.
TSM works. That being said, it is only accepted by a small minority at this time. Attracting more professionals to help believe in and spread the word about TSM, needs to be done with as little confusion (and no ethical resistance) as possible. Therefore sticking with TSM for AUD treatment while adding a program of recovery for other Substances, may be adding the least amount of controversy to a subject that should not be controversial at all, yet is!

 

Gary:

‘The addiction to mood-altering Substances simply became an addiction to “More.” (Anything that changes my mood and I like the feeling, I want More!’

…Interesting that you should say that. I’m paraphrasing, but something that Robert Rapplean was saying in the very recent podcast interview that I did with him was along the lines of “some people drink or drug not so much because they’re driven by craving, but by a need to alter how they’re feeling”… which puts me in mind of the classic example of what happened when thousands of heroin addicted veterans of the Vietnam conflict returned home to the states – the majority of these soldiers quit very quickly and with very little difficulty.

So would you say that, if you’re a therapist, the question then becomes “Well, just where does the individual in front of me fall on the alcohol use disorder spectrum?”… i.e. how much of this can be addressed through anti-craving medication like naltrexone using The Sinclair Method and/or how much of a need is there to address other internal or environmental difficulties?

 

Jeff:

Interesting question Gary. It reminds me of an early reply when I stated that there needs to be a program of recovery for people taking TSM. I think if someone has all other issues in their life in healthy order, TSM is enough. In cases where there is more needed, such as when the person has no support group, the person will most likely (about 78%, so they say) become disinterested in alcohol. However they will not have other needs met.

There’s another program which talks about the “emotional hangover.” If there is something missing from a person’s life which is causing them to be unhealthy this will cause increasing stress over time. As far as I know lack of a support group is the number one cause of relapse and an inability to handle stress is the second.

When using TSM you may want to consider not being compliant as a type of relapse — or lapse as some prefer. Becoming disinterested in alcohol, to me, is partially because I know that no matter what I am going to take my naltrexone an hour before I drink. If an individual runs into what I like to call “The Perfect Storm (e.g., gets fired, car breaks down, spouse leaves all at the same time), there will be a high amount of stress. At that point something needs to be in place to handle it. Either the person has great stress-coping skills or a support group to help them deal with the stress.

When these things are missing it may be tempting to make a bad decision and skip the naltrexone at the next drinking session. I can imagine someone who has had great success with TSM may feel that they can’t handle the way they’re feeling at the moment. I can imagine them thinking that they can go back on TSM after they get through this rough patch.

Summing up the answer to your question: I do not think it matters where the person “fall(s) on the alcohol use disorder spectrum.” It does matter what other balance the person has in their life – is their life in balance both before the stress hits and when the stress hits? Balance has a great deal to do with recovery.

 

Gary:

I honestly cannot make any assumptions about other people’s motivations for non-compliance and subsequent re-addiction, Jeff. Everyone is different.

It is an area that needs more research – we need to learn from our failures. [Though “failure” is perhaps too unforgiving as a choice of word, given that many people get back on the horse and subsequently course-correct quite well]

Clearly, education is key here. But speaking for myself, because I read The Cure for Alcoholism quite thoroughly prior to starting TSM I was therefore very well aware of the importance of “the golden rule”.

Another factor is that I’m one of these people who has been plagued by bad luck all my life… seriously… I’m not kidding – I never ever, ever, ever win anything in games of chance; I always lose (hence why I don’t even bother with the lottery).

Being prone to such poor luck has resulted in my becoming someone who doesn’t take uncalculated and emotionally-driven risks lightly.

…Hence why when I read something that more or less says “The odds are that you will very likely become re-addicted quite quickly if you do this…” I tend to take notice, given this weird hex which I have.

Moreover, despite having the experienced the most godawful “perfect storm” and having very little support myself on numerous occasions over the last couple of years dealing with the fallout of my mother being murdered and then the subsequent trial what’s most interesting is that though I could have given myself an easy excuse, my attitude toward compliance instead actually hardened because my motivation then became one of: “As much as this is a godawful waking nightmare I need to be 100% present 24/7 in order to be there for my family”.

But other people are different and their “perfect storms” are very different so I cannot make any judgements here. In terms of willpower I cannot claim to be any stronger or any weaker than anyone else.

Another thing – and this is going to probably sound very weird to you, Jeff… but another factor in my success has been spite, as crazy as that sounds.

To explain: the evil bastard that robbed and murdered my mum and then set fire to her home was a crack cocaine addict… so, you see, what happened was that my own continued compliance and abstinence (despite what I was going through) then became a defiant “f*** you” to the perpetrator and his defence team during the trial, should they have ever attempted to use his addiction as a mitigating factor or as a way to make the jury feel sorry for him.

…Anyway: I got sidetracked and ended up just talking about myself again! Haha! You must be thinking “It’s all me, me, me with this guy”. Sorry, Jeff.

Going back to what you were saying, Though I see some value in one-to-one counselling (should someone require help for whatever issue) I’m not so sure that TSM peer support groups (whether they be in “the real world” or virtual) are always a recipe for success for everyone, but education most definitely is when it comes to TSM.

Despite many people’s fears that TSM will put many addiction professionals out of work by virtue of making things like the need for detoxes obsolete, the fact is that there will always be a need for good educators.

 

Jeff:

I definitely do not think you’re all about “me, me, me”. You help others daily.

Interesting that we both mentioned the need or lack of need amidst hearing about MARA. I am truly happy for your current success!

I do think many people lack the ability to deal with stress. I took a class once and there was a test about coping skills. The results (be they valid or not) were that I was going through the highest stress factors in the class at the time but that I also had the highest level of stress coping skills in the class. To me, it meant that I have the knowledge to deal with stress (life) but it didn’t help unless I actually put that knowledge into action.

Support groups can help with accountability and help the individual get through tough times. Not everyone is strong enough to do it on their own.

It might also assist in spreading the word of TSM.

 

Gary:

Well, when it comes to MARA (Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous), my attitude is that I’m all for newer, more inclusive interpretations of the 12 Steps; which is why I’ve been a fan of things like AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief for quite a while.

Despite my not being “a group person” and despite my own previous negative experience with AA (which I speak openly about HERE) and also despite the fact that I cannot minimalize the legitimate criticisms that many people have of the Minnesota model, I have a real respect for people within the movement who are actively trying to change it from the inside. I think that’s really gutsy, in fact… I consider such people real pioneers.

Which is why when I read the recent Slate article which covered what Megan McAllister had done setting up MARA I immediately reached out to her and said “Well done”.

This is what a lot of people don’t quite get about me, Jeff: the fact that I’m not anti-AA. What I really am is “pro-choice” when it comes to recovery. Though I do have a clear bias toward The Sinclair Method for treating alcohol addiction and would recommend it as the first choice for the majority of people with an alcohol addiction, I’m all for people having as many options as they can at the end of the day.

…And on that note I’d like to thank you for a wonderful interview, Jeff. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you. And well done on what you’re doing with setting up your own MARA group – it’s inspiring!


 

My take on Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA)

Last night I came across a most interesting web article on the Slate website written by Jillian Bauer-Reese all about a new 12 Step group called “MARA”. The article is entitled: “There’s a New 12-Step Group: Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous”.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The use of prescribed methadone and buprenorphine—referred to as medication-assisted recovery when combined with psychosocial treatments like peer support and talk therapy—is undeniably the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder, according to the evidence. Research has repeatedly shown that these medications reduce opioid addiction­–related deaths by 50 percent or more, increase treatment retention, and decrease infectious disease transmission and criminal activity.

Despite this evidence, patients with opioid use disorder frequently receive pressure from family members, 12-step groups, and outdated, punitive policies in treatment centers, recovery houses, and court systems to not take these medications at all, or to stop taking them before they’re ready, according to addiction specialists who treat them. Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, attributes much of this stigma to confusion between physiological dependence and addiction.”

…And further into the article:

“I think it’s heartbreaking because if a person had cancer or had any other chronic illness and they were valiantly managing it, people in their lives would be supporting them and encouraging them to take their medication every day to stay healthy,” Wakeman tells me. “The need to keep it a secret or feel like it’s something shameful when people are doing really well on treatment is challenging and can really undermine someone’s recovery.”

Dr. Wakeman is right. It is heartbreaking that someone’s recovery should be diminished in such a cruel way; shameful, in fact. But all too common, tragically.

Since I successfully recovered from alcohol addiction using The Sinclair Method 5 years ago I’ve had numerous people try to discount my recovery. I’ve had everything from “…oh then you were obviously never a real alcoholic in the first place if you did it without the steps” (an example of the old No True Scotsman fallacy) to people trying to unsuccessfully argue (despite the mass of statistically significant studies that say otherwise) that The Sinclair Method is only successful thanks to the placebo effect.

But, as previously indicated, the article does have a wonderful silver lining in that it tells the story of a plucky MAT activist and pioneer called Megan McAllister who has set up her own Medication-Assisted Recovery Anonymous (MARA) group and who has inspired other people in the states to do the same.

Again, quoting the article:

“Why should I feel ashamed for doing something that’s saved my life?” McAllister asks me. “I was putting a needle in my arm every 10 minutes—methadone saved my life.”

I really hope this catches on. Though the emphasis of the article is only upon medication-assisted recovery for opioid addiction, I also think that something like this could also be really useful to people using The Sinclair Method – something that I have previously spoken about in-depth HERE and also, most recently, in this youTube vlog.

Well done to all concerned for such a good article.


 

Think you’re a TSM expert? Test your knowledge here!

A fun quiz for wannabe Sinclair Method experts.

Who wrote The Cure for Alcoholism?

In 1968 David Sinclair discovered that certain people were strongly motivated to drink alcohol because...

Naltrexone and nalmefene work by blocking...

bestdrug.org

The "golden rule" for success with The Sinclair Method is:

Claudia Christian's 2014 documentary about The Sinclair Method was called:

Claudia Christian

Though naloxone was used in Sinclair's animal trials with specially bred rats, nalmefene and naltrexone (naloxone's sister drugs) were used in the human trials because:

Image credit: Janvier Labs

Ultimately, Sinclair's theory of reinforcement ("learning") and extinction ("unlearning") when it applies to alcohol addiction owes a debt to the research of:

Image sourced from: Cuaderno de Cultura Científica

In the foreword for The Cure for Alcoholism, David Sinclair describes the traditional treatment method for alcohol addiction as:

According to page 44 of The Cure for Alcoholism, opioid antagonists such as naltrexone and nalmefene should not generally be prescribed with abstinence because:

injected.org

Though naloxone has not been used to treat alcohol addiction (not for humans, anyway - see above), Sinclair had used a naloxone nasal spray in his research to successfully treat:

 

Claudia Christian on The Sinclair Method

A very special video podcast interview between Gary Bell (of Naltrexone Confidential and The Free Pigeon Press fame) and Claudia Christian on Gary’s 5th anniversary of starting The Sinclair Method.

Hi everybody and welcome to what marks a very special podcast interview… a Skype chat with none other than Claudia Christian on my 5th Sinclair Method “birthday” in which we talk all about TSM, our mutual experience of filming the acclaimed documentary One Little Pill, Alcoholics Anonymous, the depiction (or rather non-depiction) of alternative recovery options in film and television and lots more besides.

Enjoy!

How my adventure with the charismatic Claudia began…

“It’s not a question of faith, it’s a question of facts. I wasn’t going to be able to pray this thing away. When you look at other treatment approaches you’ve got AA… then you’ve got other types of counselling where they’re trying to reason with it… and I’m thinking, well, this is silly – why don’t you just kill it?!?

-Gary Bell, One Little Pill

Caricature of Claudia Christian standing writing the formula for The Sinclair Method at a chalkboard
An acrylic painting that I did as a present for Claudia Christian back in August 2013 – just before the filming of One Little Pill. In fact, the paint was still wet when I gave it to her.

I first became aware of Claudia Christian as an actress from her work on the excellent sci-fi/horror film The Hidden and later the classic science fiction TV series Babylon 5.

It was only upon only upon doing a Google search on The Sinclair Method (TSM) back in late 2012 (back when I was still very much struggling with the booze) that I became aware of her work as a TSM advocate/addiction treatment activist .

About Claudia – she doesn’t disappoint in person. In fact, in real life she’s very much like her fictional counterpart Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5. That’s to say intelligent, feisty, brave and beautiful.

The very first time I met her was in fact when I was invited to be a guest interviewee for the filming of the UK segment of One Little Pill.

How that came about…

I’d tried just about everything from AA to acupuncture to curb my drinking and turned to the internet to find answers, ultimately reading about The Sinclair Method and later finding out about Claudia’s advocacy of TSM. Upon discovering this I took the bold step of sending her a personal message on Facebook.

Much to my astonishment Claudia responded that same night and was absolutely wonderful, offering real encouragement. Something that (as it turned out) I would really need because this was unfortunately back at a time when there were even less support than there is now and nalmefene (naltrexone’s sister drug) had yet to be officially approved on the NHS here in the UK.

As I went through the thankless process of somehow trying to acquire this treatment through conventional means (i.e. through my GP and local addictive behaviours service) I recall having numerous doors slammed in my face.

I could have easily lost hope but I had Claudia’s support and, deciding that I needed to charge of my own destiny, would eventually take matters into my own hands by importing a supply of naltrexone from an online pharmacy in Canada.

But out of this seething crucible of anger would come some really positive. A blog that I created called Naltrexone Confidential that would go on to get quite a bit of praise. And it was this that led to my being invited to take part in the London segment of One Little Pill some months after I first went onto TSM.

A photograph of Gary Bell and Claudia Christian taken during the filming of the UK segment of One Little Pill in August 2013
Me and Claudia during the shooting of One Little Pill in London back in August 2013

About the documentary: it was great taking part in it and it was a real pleasure to meet Claudia and Dr. Roy Eskapa, author of The Cure for Alcoholism – considered by most to be the instruction manual on The Sinclair Method (click HERE to visit the Amazon page for the book).

But my interview very nearly didn’t happen. I nearly missed the train because I was extremely sleep-deprived on the day that I was due to take the trip to London thanks to the annoying crack-addicted neighbours that I had at the time keeping everyone in my street awake for three solid days.

Hence why when I look back on my interview I think that I could have done better had I not been so crushingly tired. Still, I think I do okay all things considered.

I also have to pause to thank my mom (bless her heart) because, as I mention HERE, I very nearly backed out for fear of the exposure that my appearing in this might bring and it was her who affirmed that I should do it.

 

The thing on most people’s lips since I did the documentary is just how different I now look. Some people have had difficulty recognising me, in fact.

What I need to point out is that this was very early days for me and my body and brain were only just starting to heal from the poison I’d been feeding it, so I was still quite bloated and sweaty in appearance. Being used to a diet of Carlsberg Special Brew and takeout crap during the course of my addiction, it would (post Sinclair Method) take a while to get onto a healthy diet and exercise regime but, as the before and after photos on this Quora post HERE prove, I eventually got to a much healthier place. And it didn’t take very long either.

 

Reflecting on things now… In the 5 years since the filming of OLP and the 5 years in which I’ve been on the method there’s been trolls, tantrums, tragedy and trauma to deal with, but I look back on things through a really positive prism. Post-pharmacological extinction there’s little that I would change. Sure, I have some regrets (like how I wish I’d handled some things better with my old website, for example), but they’re minor.

Anyway, I think that (for now) just about covers what I wanted to write on the subject of of One Little Pill. Given my biased involvement, it didn’t seem appropriate to write a proper in-depth review – hence why I’ve given more of just an an overview of my own involvement with it… but take my word for it when I say that it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in the topic of alcohol addiction.

Thanks for reading and thanks to Claudia and everyone else who has helped me over these last five years. To quote Vinnie Jones: “It’s been emotional”.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

Video podcast interview with Robert Rapplean

A video podcast interview between Gary Bell and Robert Rapplean discussing the history of The Sinclair Method (TSM) on social media and the continuing challenge of trying to get this revolutionary treatment for alcohol addiction more widely known and readily available.

Hello and welcome to this very special video podcast interview between myself and Robert Rapplean of Intellectual Icebergs fame.

One of the very first people to give The Sinclair Method (TSM) widespread exposure on social media in the mid-noughties on his science blog Intellectual Icebergs, Robert is noteworthy for conducting an excellent 4-part podcast interview with David Sinclair waaaay back in 2005 (see below)… at a time when there was absolutely next to nothing about Sinclair’s research in the public domain… several years before Roy Eskapa would write the first edition of The Cure for Alcoholism and Claudia Christian would go on to set up the C3 Foundation.

As we discuss in the above video, Robert was also the main author of the original Sinclair Method Wikipedia page.

Not just that – but when I first came to hear about TSM and take part in the forums Robert provided a lot of very real mentorship when I came to set up my first TSM-themed blog, Naltrexone Confidential… often answering frantic e-mails from myself at Insane O’Clock in the morning when I was stuck on some obscure scientific detail, so I would say that we all owe him a very large debt because (though a largely invisible presence) he’s in fact been a very real guiding hand – either directly or indirectly – to many people over the span of quite a few years now.

Many thanks to Robert for agreeing to take part in this interview (and also adding some much-needed post production clean up work to the audio); it was a blast having our first ever “face-to-face”, despite having been in contact with each other for several years now.

Without further ado, here’s Robert’s excellent podcast 4-part interview with David Sinclair – enjoy!

 

Podcast interview with Michael Dempsey of Recovering from Recovery fame

Having very recently tried my hand at hosting video podcasts on the subject of The Sinclair Method, I thought that it would be good to try doing a conventional audio podcast interview and my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovery from Recovery fame kindly volunteered to be my very first interviewee!

Hi everyone.

Given that I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone and have a go at new things, having very recently tried my hand at hosting video podcasts (see HERE), I thought that it would be good to try doing a conventional audio podcast interview and my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovery from Recovery fame kindly volunteered to be my first guinea pig interviewee for this little experiment.

So – without further ado – here’s what we came up with:

I think it turned out alright. Sure, there’s nothing in the way of any real production values… no jingle or anything… but that’s to be expected; and yes, the sound quality leaves a little bit to be desired on my end, but as far as first goes go, it’s not half bad.

I look forward to doing more and would like to thank Mike for not just being a brilliant interviewee, but also (being an experienced podcaster himself) a really good mentor and – last but not least – for lending a hand to clean up the audio for me.

Many, many, many thanks to him for that.

As for the content of the interview itself: I think it’s really good. The last half of the interview, in particular, is really insightful and I got a lot of identification from Michael’s observations of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Also, during the course of the interview Mike has some really useful expert advice for anyone wanting to set up their own recovery blog.

…Okay, well that’s me done for one article and one interview. It’s been a blast.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

“Choosing the red pill” – Seth’s story

Hello readers and welcome to this continuing series of interviews that I’m conducting with different people at different stages of recovery with The Sinclair Method (TSM).

My special guest for this interview is my fellow Your Choice, Your Recovery administrator Seth.


Gary:

Hi Seth and thanks for agreeing to this interview. From previous correspondence that I’ve had with you I was most interested to learn that (like myself) you first heard of The Sinclair Method (TSM) thanks to The Orange Papers website. For the benefit of our readers could you tell us a bit about that whole trajectory in your journey… that’s to say: how did you first come to read The Orange Papers? And, for that matter, what is The Orange Papers?

 

Seth:

Gary, I’m happy to be interviewed about The Sinclair Method. That question about the Orange Papers, well it’s a red pill question, the answer for which your readers are going to have to take a trip down the rabbit hole with us.

I found the Orange papers while I was in Alcoholics Anonymous which is probably analogous to a subculture or subroutine in the Matrix, it has it’s own rules, it’s own language, it’s own glitches. There were an interesting chain of events leading to my willingness to explore logic outside the AA subculture that interestingly was initiated by a fellow friend and AA member I will refer to as The Bumblebee. One day Bumblebee asks if I want to come over to his house and watch a cool video, oh wait The Orange Papers, OK we’ll get back to this later.

So The Orange Papers is a website that is a collection of research writings and email threads hosted by a former AA member that goes by Agent Orange. The front page header reads:

(Click on image to open page in another tab)

Before AA I was involved with a christian cult so finding the Orange Papers was like finding the ex-cult website that had all the dirt on that group I was in. I started reading it, and the more I read the less I felt like AA was actually helping me. But you know what AA true believers do when they are having a rough time, dive more into service. Towards the end I was hosting a group I kind of took over and I turned it into a Big Book Study group, using a series of recordings by a couple old guys named Joe and Charlie.

So I visit the hive of The Bumblebee, and he plays this video called Zeitgeist. Dude blew my mind, so I started doing all kinds of research on the internet expanding my mind. When Zeitgeist Addendum came out I got involved with the Zeitgeist movement, I started the New Jersey state chapter. Anyway it was in this time I became aware of behavioural indoctrination and first heard the idea that AA wasn’t the only way to deal with a drinking problem. Started going to AA in Sept 2000 and by mid 2009 I was done with it, I left and began trying to drink again. It took about 7 years for me to get to the point of looking for help again. This is about the time around mid 2015 I really started to go downhill. After researching SMART, S.O.S. and even Rational Recovery, I tried AA again for 3 months and found it worse than I remembered.

So I decided around 2008 AA wasn’t for me anymore. It was a very difficult time because I lost my community, I was in new territory. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I didn’t have to lie to myself anymore. It actually was a matter of survival because I wasn’t getting better.

 

Gary: Here’s a fun question for you – as I’ve previously mentioned to you, something we both have in common is a fondness for Star Trek. My question to you is “wouldn’t the addiction treatment arena be a better place if people started channeling their inner Spock instead of their inner Captain Kirk?’ i.e. stopped arguing from emotion and started coming more from a place of dispassionate logic. I only ask because I see a lot of people channeling Kirk and McCoy on internet addiction forums, but not many Spocks! Lol

 

Seth:

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. I’m fond of Spock, I like to think I identify with him. What made Spock great was that he wanted to be on a ship with all these divergent and various people. This is something I think addiction treatment needs is a willingness to boldly go where the 12 steps hasn’t gone before. I really don’t know how Spock would deal with addiction, this is the first time I’ve thought about it. I guess if there was a behavioral plague Vulcans fought it would have to be emotions, so our addictions are like emotions to Vulcans.  The closest thing I can think of that Vulcans might regard as a treatment for emotions would be the Kolinahr training. That takes years, and once completed they are Kolinahr masters. There have been attempts by Star Trek to address the problem of addiction, one was a Next Generation episode that got it wrong, but they didn’t consult Dr. Sinclair about it.

I think Gene Roddenberry liked to drink because it comes through the series, his way of solving drunkenness was to invent synthehol.

 

Gary:

Another question just around Star Trek… would you say that the difference between TSM and other treatment methods is that whereas other treatment models effectively see alcohol addiction as a “Kobayashi Maru” (an unwinnable scenario), we don’t.

Seth:

So the classic lore in Star Trek was that Cadet Kirk beat a training simulation called “The Kobayashi Maru” by rewriting the parameters of the test, the test being unwinnable. 12 step lore is the opposite of the Kobayashi Maru it’s winning by accepting defeat. In any other field of medicine this would be laughed away. If the field of cancer treatment stopped searching for better outcomes I would have died 15 years ago. If the AIDS research stopped at the peak of the epidemic we might have 3 billion less people alive now. So yeah AA and other 12 step groups present addiction as a Kobayashi Maru test when it’s anything but. This learned helplessness is killing people.

Gary:

It just seems like when people derisively exhort “There is NO cure for alcoholism” it sorta echos the “There is NO way to beat the Kobayashi Maru” sentiment expressed by numerous characters in Star Trek in response to the fact that Kirk did just that.

 

Seth:

That is the sad thing about the 12 steps, civilians for the most part see AA and NA as something they are not. If I ask people who know nothing about it they tell me some strange things. Some folks think medical professionals are involved at meetings, they think it really works and people who it doesn’t work for just refuse to be treated. They don’t know that the primary treatment is to go to a group and bitch about how they can’t drink anymore. I’m an Ozzy Osbourne fan, everyone knows Ozzy has alcohol use disorder. I think he had the most brilliant insight when asked why he hates going to meetings. To paraphrase: “Going to AA is like going to a meeting where a bunch of men who lost their leg sit around and complain about losing there leg and how it happened. I say it’s done, I lost my leg now get on with life”.

After I went back to AA after not going for 7 years I had a new perspective, I wasn’t going because I was afraid, and I was fully versed in the whole program. So I was very much in touch with how what people said effected me, and meetings are an hour long behaviourally triggering process. I mean if a person goes to a meeting and doesn’t want to drink after they weren’t paying attention. So after 90 days I started looking for other things, I went to SMART for a few meetings but that was after I started TSM.

Two of the people that impressed me were Dr. Robert Sapolsky, and Dr. Gabor Maté. They both have novel scientific views on nature vs. nurture and the social cause of addiction. Their work is what started me looking at alternatives to AA. Dr. Maté used to treat the addicts he treated with Ayahuasca and had great success with it.  

 

Gary:

Okay, next question… and this is a boring mandatory question that I need to ask… but how are you doing as far as TSM goes? Do you still drink at all or are you now completely abstinent? And how long exactly have you been on TSM?

 

Seth:

These are my favourite questions.

I’m very active in our little community of pioneers, and I’m solid. I would describe my relationship with alcohol and TSM as “Organic Abstinence”. If that’s a term that has never been coined I’ll go on record as the originator. What I mean by it is if given the choice of a slice of pizza and a glass of ice water or a beer I’l pick the pizza and ice water every time. I have alcohol all over the house, it’s not mine, but that never stopped me before now. it’s just bottles of something it takes too much work to bother with. When I started TSM I decided I wasn’t going to be totally abstinent because to me that was to extreme and I felt I’d rebel against myself.

So I live life free from the grips of the trickster. I have rules… don’t drink alone… only drink if it’s a casual occasion… if it’s a booze orgy I’ll pass. Nothing triggers my drinkflex anymore. I don’t even stare at people’s drinking glass anymore. I used to do that all the time. I started Jan. 13th, 2016. I consider July 1st 2016 as my extinction day, but it’s hard to tell because it wasn’t until July 10th or so I realised I hadn’t had a drink for a couple weeks.

 

Gary:

Okay, last question… as you mentioned, you’re “very active in our little community of pioneers”… you recently took over the reins from Angela as the head moderator on the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook forum (which has seen MASSIVE growth in a very short time – so major props to you, Angela and the rest of the gang for that) and you’re an active participant on numerous other forums… but my question to you is what next?

You disclosed to me in a previous conversation that you’ve mooted starting a podcast show – are you still keen to get that off the ground?

 

Seth:

There are times in my life where I became involved with things from a pure heart only to find out the leaders had very ulterior motives, and I stuck around even after I should have left. There were other opportunities I was an early adopter of but didn’t fully commit to because I was burned in the past. The Sinclair Method is the first thing I’ve done that I know 100% that it works, and it’s a grassroots thing that has potential to turn alcohol use disorder treatment upside down.

Alcohol is only legal today because it’s the oldest mind altering substance man has used. If alcohol was discovered today it would be a schedule 1 controlled substance. So I feel a duty to the world as long as it remains a culturally accepted and legal intoxicant to spread the word about The Sinclair Method.

Having been on the inside of Alcoholics Anonymous and done all the things they suggest and tried, I mean really tried to get well and help people do the same. I’m not willing to sit by and be silent, I know what works and what doesn’t, I know what is sane and what is insane. Treating a medical condition like alcohol use disorder which is a learned behaviour that is physiologically set by social conditioning of repeated exposure to alcohol over a long period of time. Treating that by forced abstinence, group indoctrination, some religious ideas of powerlessness, prayer, meditation, restitution and proselytising when The Sinclair Method is available is not only insane. It’s unethical and deadly. We have case studies, we know personally dozens of people who have successfully done what we have done, we have dozens more right now in their first weeks of TSM who need support. Tens of thousands in Finland who have been treated successfully.

We face a difficult challenge because people want answers, and most stop at the first one they come across. As expensive as treatment is and as cheap as 12-step meetings are it’s a hard sell to say to folks “hey there’s something in the middle here”. You know, families have resigned to the idea that rehab is $1,000 a day, medical detox is $10,000 per treatment.

When someone comes along and says look, you can do detox and rehab at home for $3 to $5 a treatment not including drinks. Treatment being take naltrexone or nalmefene wait an hour or two then drink all you want, do that for 3 to 6 months and you’ll be cured, they don’t believe it.

Now accredited addiction professionals are providing The Sinclair Method option for their clients, but instead of a $10,000 detox and 28 day $30,000 rehab they are asking just $1,000 a month for 6 months or some are charging $5,000 for complete treatment meaning until AUD is extinct, if that’s 6 months or 12.

I want to tell you what alcohol use disorder felt like to me. Ever had to be in a room with a crying baby? If it’s not your child it can be annoying, but it’s not your kid so you can get up and leave. But if it is yours or you have to watch it, you’ll stand on your head to get the kid to stop crying, bottle, binky, milk toast, rocking, bouncing, changing diapers. Whatever is in your power to do you’ll try, just to get some quiet. But what if there is a baby in your head, and that infant has a scream on it that would make a mother flip over a car to get it to stop. The only thing that was able to get my evil brain baby to shut up is booze.

Before TSM it was bedlam in my head.

After six months the baby was weened and I guess he moved out, went to college or something, but all is quiet on the booze front between my ears now. Now I’m left to tackle the 20 or so years I avoided emotional maturity. The first year after extinction it’s like an identity crisis, who am I without the defining feature of powerlessness over alcohol? I’m a pioneer in a field where this treatment will absolutely become the Gold standard of care for Alcohol Use Disorder. I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t need a label like that, I don’t have active alcohol use disorder, I don’t need to be anonymous about it, I love where I’m at with regards to this deadly problem.

So what’s next for me? Long term I want to write a guide book for TSM to help people who want to do it get started. I won’t go into more detail than that. But short term I want to host a weekly or twice weekly or even if needed daily Sinclair Method Podcast. I want to have guests on, I think I could have 50 episodes on just talking to all the TSM doctors in each state of the USA. I’d want to cover TSM news, have some fun, I’m sure there will be no shortage of material.

Thank you Gary for interviewing me, it’s been a blast.

 

Gary:

Thank you, Seth. It’s been fun. We should collaborate again some time. 🙂