“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this evidence, patients with opioid use disorder frequently receive pressure from family members, 12-step groups, and outdated, punitive policies in treatment centers, recovery houses, and court systems to not take these medications at all, or to stop taking them before they’re ready,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.
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.
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, AA, the depiction (or rather non-depiction) of alternative recovery options in film and television and lots more besides.
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
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 struggling) 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.
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 indepth 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”.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
…Thank you, Seth. It’s been fun. We should collaborate again some time. 🙂
…and welcome to a very special article that marks not just the third anniversary of the existence of this blog, but also my very first venture into video podcasting with my special guest (and fellow TSM warrior) Katie of Embodied Daily fame over on YouTube.
P.S. I’m aware that it was difficult to make out my drink diaries and extinction graph from what I showed in the video. Sorry about that. Please click HERE to get a better look at them.
Time for a bit of a breather and a bit of a pause for thought about how this blog is doing:
Overall, it’s not been a bad few months. I’ve picked up some extra followers (“hello!”) and it’s obvious that the site is now starting to show up in more search engine listings about The Sinclair Method as well as get a steady number of referrals from Facebook.
So what next?
Well, given the favourable response to some of the Q & A articles I’ve recently posted I’m seriously thinking about adopting a podcast format as it’s obvious that an audience really enjoys hearing people’s stories and really gets a lot out of hearing an actual dialogue… and I’ve gotta say that I’m quite inspired by the work of my friends Michael and Katie with their excellent respective podcasts and YouTube videos…
…So I think now would be a good time to experiment a bit more with things like YouTube and also perhaps doing some work to improve the actual look of the site with a new template perhaps – as, for one thing, even though the site looks quite decent on my Sony laptop it honestly leaves a bit to be desired when viewed on my Samsung S7 screen (where it looks a bit “crammed”)… so it might be worth seeing if I can find a webpage template that’s visually more cross-device friendly.
Anyway, besides that it’s all good. Everything’s ticking over quite nicely and I’ve got a couple of really exciting collaborations coming up that I can’t really currently talk about because I don’t want to give away any “spoilers”, but that will appear on here quite soon.
The only bit of anxiety that I have about experimenting with new stuff is just around the fact that whilst I’m arguably a confident enough writer I’m honestly like a chimpanzee trying to solve a Rubik’s cube when it comes to trying to figure out some of the tech stuff… it’s all “flying by the seat of one’s pants” with me, given my lack of technical know-how (hehe! – you know what? I think poor Mike is starting to despair of the number of “How-the-f*ck-do-I-do-this”themed e-mails he gets from me all the time! Haha!!! 😀 ).
Okay, well that’s this particular reverie over with for now, I think.
‘…Not long ago, drink was my “sun” and I was in its orbit.’ – Marie
Hello readers and welcome to the second in my series of ongoing interviews with different people at different stages of recovery with The Sinclair Method (TSM).
My friend Marie – who has been on TSM for over three years now – has very kindly agreed to share her story with us.
What follows is a transcript of our correspondence together.
When did you first realise that you had a drinking problem and how did you come to hear about The Sinclair Method?
Hello Gary. First let me say that I’m really excited to work with you on this article. Mindful, compliant Sinclair Method Is a true life-saver. I’m happy to do this as I can to help spread the word.
You ask when did I realise I had a drinking problem? The short answer is I was in my mid-40s.
The true, long answer is that I simply grew up with alcoholism and drinking. It was just what people did. I have a strong family background with drinking, so it was only ‘normal’ when I snuck my first beer at 11 or so. I got married in my early 20s to a rather large man, but I could drink him under the table at will. At that time I was still in the driver’s seat with the drinking. Months would go by and I wouldn’t touch a drop. I separated from my ex in my late 20s, and could drink ‘socially’.
Then some of the binges started creeping in. I would have been shocked at this point if anyone had told me I had a ‘drinking problem’.
I just grew up with people often drinking a good portion of the night and then recovering the next day. I tried to date at this point in my life, and had several broken relationships. My friends Jim and Jack were always there for me. though – Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. I never drove drunk, and I never missed work due to a hangover, but the drinking was becoming more and more prevalent. The binges came more and more frequently and became more and more intense as to what and how much I was drinking. I had the family history, and my own personal choices too, that had me marked as a person who drank.
The AUD started really getting bad in my early 40s. I’ve always been a private person, so a lot of people in my family even still called me a ‘teetotaller.’ I’ve never had to go to the hospital and detox, and I still tried to never miss work or any other important engagement; but I started believing more and more in the bottle of alcohol in my fridge.
Images of cold cans of beer would just pop into my mind when I was trying to focus at work for instance. I’d be home, relaxing an watching TV and, without any real conscious thought on my part, I’d be up and into the kitchen to get a glass of Amaretto. I still didn’t have a ‘problem’, you see. I still didn’t need AA, or any other form of help.
If I kept my head clear and really focused, I could still go for long periods of time without a drink.
As I initially said, it was in my mid-40’s when things came to a head. I’ve always lived on my own, so not even family members knew things were getting bad for me. I just kept it to myself. If I never missed work and never drove drunk, I was in control, right? I was all about Rum Chata at the time, and I had a very hard time getting out the door to go to work without ‘just a sip’. In spite of having lost several family members at this point due to the drinking so prevalent in my kin, I would slide down stairs because I was so buzzed. This is ‘hitting bottom’ in the worst possible way. Finances have always been rough, so I’ve never been able to carry much health care or go see a physician or get medications. So I ended up simply trying to ‘ration’ the alcohol, which left me in quite a white-knuckle state. The ‘binges’, if you could still call them that at this point, had pretty well melded themselves into a string of fights with my drinking. On my days off work, or when I had a clear schedule, I would just drink. I would eat once every other day, but always had red wine handy.
My true moment of realisation happened when I woke to an awful smell of greasy smoke one morning. I used to take several over-the-counter sleep meds, and yes, drink heavily on top of that. I went into the bathroom that morning, only to find that I had left a small votive candle burning on the back of the seat. It had gotten too hot, and the glass container it was in had exploded. There were sharp shards of glass and stinky blobs of brownish melted wax all over. It’s a good thing I left that little candle on the back of the inflammable porcelain seat. I never would have woke up if a fire had started.
That was when things came together for me. That was when I realised it was change or die. The little choices and decisions I had made one at a time all through the years had come to a head. I was torn between the image of the cold beer in my mind with beads of condensation sliding down the sides and the images of all my family members who had died from AUD. This was when I realised that it wasn’t like me to have to fight to get out the door to go to work without a few swallows of Rum Chata. I was single, on my own, but I had to somehow give up the drinking or die.
There is a strong AA community in my area, but I knew these people and would watch them suffer with the cravings to drink. There are many bars in my area, and though I never wanted to go *INTO* the taverns themselves, they would trigger the need to drink when I passed them. I’d get home and pop open the bottle. My finances cut out any possibility of seeing a doctor. I was at a very crucial point in my drinking – I call it the ‘Black Hole Event Horizon.’ I knew the drinking was going nowhere good, but how could I just leave that half-glass of Long Island ice tea?
You didn’t throw any drink out! I never got a DUI or had to go to detox, but I was nonetheless about to get sucked into some very destructive behaviours. Black Hole indeed.
I had been a follower of the sci-fi show Babylon 5 a few years prior.
One day I did an online search of the actors of the show to see what they had been up to recently. I came across Miss Claudia Christian’s memoir ‘Babylon Confidential’. I got a copy, and when sober enough to comprehend, read it quite avidly. Many things clicked into place when I did. Then I got a copy of Dr Roy Eskapa’s ‘The Cure for Alcoholism’ and was blown away by the sense and the logic to the science behind this ‘Sinclair Method’. This is the same time when it came to me that maybe I couldn’t take my own rough drinking habits for granted anymore, much as I grew up seeing the behaviour all around me.
It was also about this time that I got out to meet Miss Claudia in person. Yes, finances were hard, but it was ‘do or die’ when it came to the drink. Miss Claudia was appearing at a sci-fi convention. I have to say I was far to shy to openly discuss my drinking with ANYONE, let alone someone I was meeting for the first time. That was early 2014. I left her a copy of some of my writing, and then quietly went about my business. I gradually struck up an online conversation with her, and then saved up my pennies and nickles and went out to another convention she was appearing at. This time, I summoned up the courage to speak to her. That was later the same year. She helped me to get my first few doses of naltrexone. Miss Claudia’s wonderful non-profit, CThreeFoundation.Org, was of great help to me. I saved up a bit more cash, got my own supply of naltrexone (Naltima) and began mindful, compliant Sinclair Method. The Drinking Dragon, which had so quietly and perniciously crept up on me, was quashed. The AUD Monster, which was on the very verge of sucking me in, was removed completely from my back. In spite of a lot of odds against me, I got it done – and if *I* can anyone can.
Wow. That’s a great story of perseverance in the face of adversity. So… it’s been over three years now, right? What have those three years been like? Have you been able to keep compliant?
Oh, Gary. Have I been able to keep compliant? That’s a very good question, because it’s the whole point of the Sinclair Method after all, right? Yes, I learned early on as I was beginning TSM that LIFE has Inertia, and the Drinking Demon has a life of it’s own. I learned to keep my nal on me always. Things seemed to try to conspire to trip me up once I did realise I had to change or I was going to die from my AUD. I learned early on to keep my naltrexone on me all the time so I wouldn’t get caught out without the medication. It’s such a simple thing to do, really, and yet I had such an awful fight getting my nal!
I feel as though my pharmacological extinction moment happened in March of 2015, so yes, we’re about at that three year mark. Life itself is huge, so the last three years have been a terrifyingly beautiful time. My life is very different these days than what it was years ago, when the drinking was bad for me. For instance, when I was new to TSM, I did the research and learned about some of the science behind the Sinclair Method and pharmacologically enhanced learning (PEL) and I started exercising regularly on the days I did not drink.
These days, my life is grounded around those healthier choices instead of drinking. For me, AUD was such a huge part of life that the change was …. bewildering. What to do with all the time and energy and money once devoted to drink?
I’ll tell you about my extinction moment. Again, I had quite a fight getting my supply of naltrexone. When I did get the medication, I was mindful and compliant. If I compute how much I spent for my supply of nal, it breaks down to a cost of $2 or $3 per pill. Yes, like many other TSM folks, I had to order via a pharmacy in India. As a binge drinker, I did not drink daily. When I was having a rough day and felt a binge coming on, I would take a nal, wait the prescribed hour, then drink. I started TSM just before Christmas 2014. I drank per Dr David’s method thirteen times over the course of those intervening months. If you follow that simple math, that means I used thirteen pills at an expense of some $26 to $39. I don’t put this question forth in a ‘snarky’ or sarcastic manner – but do bear in mind the costs of hospitalized rehab and detox. Compare those expenses. Upon a time I would spend that $25-$40 in one night drinking easily.
So, I was at work that day in March when I had my extinction moment.
I worked in a laundry in an elderly care facility. The pay was not good; and I had no health care. My boss came to me and told me that hours and pay were going to be cut. I didn’t have much to begin with, and my paychecks went down by about one-third. This is part of what I mean by how life will throw you ‘curve balls’. Once the AUD has you, it intends to keep you.
I was furious. I worked nights, in a wing of the facility off by my own. I blush to admit this today, but there I was at work yelling and screaming and cussing. I kicked, and cried, and threw things about. I’m a lone wolf, and as hard as I worked I had just barely been making ends meet. How was I going to support myself making even less? AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) is a GOOD term, and covers a huge field of people in a wide gamut of drinking abuse. Some people have ‘good’ lives, and are still AUD. I myself don’t drink for a reason; if not for naltrexone I’d drink for MANY reasons.
Then the realisation of my extinction moment hit. I landed flat on my backside on the gross disgusting nasty sticky floor at work when I realised I had been so upset and angry for HOURS – but never once did that image of the bottle of Amaretto waiting for me at home come to plague my mind. As beside myself as I was in that moment, never ONCE did my internal voice say, ‘I need a DRINK!’ I had been so wild and agitated for hours, but I was no longer subject to the Drinking Demon. After the shock wore off, the tears that had been of sheer rage turned to … joy? Relief?
The past three years have been terrifyingly lovely indeed. I never expected to have that time. Now, it’s up to me to figure out what I want my life to be about, and how to cope with those awful blind-sides life throws at us all. It’s up to me to figure out how not to permit myself to be so upset. TSM is about dignity, and the personal responsibility that goes along with it. That’s what these last three years has been about for me. Not long ago, drink was my ‘sun’ and I was in its orbit.
It was a ‘Black Hole Event Horizon’ indeed. Objects in motion tend to carry on as they’re going, until acted upon by an outside force. Life has thrown a lot of trials my way. I’ve been compliant with TSM, and so it’s been a rock. I may not know where my life will take me in the next few months, but do know alcohol won’t be part of it.
I used to fight and ‘white-knuckle’, waiting for the time when I could drink. I used to be able to almost taste the alcohol, and feel the tingle in my fingertips before I even had a drop of anything to drink.
It isn’t a life for me anymore. Just a few weeks ago, I opened a bottle of root beer soda a friend had given me – it wasn’t a regular sweet soda.
It was an alcoholic beer, 5.5% by volume. Blind-side. Inertia. I looked at that beer for a long time, I grant you. I considered taking a nal, waiting the hour, and then finishing the bottle. I admit part of me wanted it. I ended up throwing it away, when not too long ago that surprise sneak-attack on the part of the Drinking Demon would have set off a huge binge for me. As strong as AUD runs in my family, the Drinking Monster still just doesn’t stand a chance against mindful, compliant TSM. It is terrifying and beautiful, but there is hope there too. For all forms of addiction – because if we’ve figured out the Sinclair Method for drinking, perhaps soon we’ll figure out how to save people from other forms of substance abuse outside of AUD.
I had a t-shirt printed that says, ‘Alcohol + Naltrexone = Your Life.’ Dr David left us a huge legacy, of dignity and hope. There you have it, Gary. Nal on.
‘…Not long ago, drink was my “sun” and I was in its orbit.’
Well said – I like that. So it’s fair to say that you were a rapid responder…
I also like the fact that you mention pharmacologically enhanced learning (PEL) and about healthy endorphin reinforcement on your alcohol-free days.
Question: given the steady growth in interest in The Sinclair Method on social media how long do you think before TSM stops being a niche thing and goes mainstream?
It IS a brave new world, once Extinction happens, isn’t it? Drinking does take over our minds and lives, bit by bit. When you’re free of that life-style, things do open up.
You asked how long did I think it might be before TSM stops being a ‘niche’ thing and becomes mainstream? Again, a very good and insightful question on your part. My answer would be I think it might depend on where you live. Having seen Miss Claudia Christian’s excellent ‘One Little Pill’ documentary – well, perhaps in India where Alcoholism is developing TSM might develop right along with it. That’s so encouraging. TSM may well be ‘mainstream’ in Helsinki, perhaps, where Dr David and Dr Hytiaa did the now-famous ‘Deprivation Effect’ studies.
Perhaps elsewhere in Europe in the next five to seven years naltrexone may become more and more readily available, along with doctors and pharmacists who understand how the Sinclair Method works. I feel as though TSM efforts are getting well under-way in these places.
And then there is America, which has always been it’s own story. In the States, TSM efforts may always have to be grass-roots. I put chalk in my pocket and take walks around town and scrawl ‘Sinclair Method’ or ‘Naltrexone’ on the sidewalks in front of the taverns in the area. I’ve considered booking one of the conference rooms at my local library and having an informal TSM Meet and Greet. I’ve pulled people aside when out at parties and told them privately about TSM. I’m heart-broken to say that financial concerns seem top-priority in my country today. I’ve sent emails to Senators and Congressmen and more local assembly folk, explaining how effective and worthwhile TSM is – I don’t think I’ve had one response. My state’s department of transportation official website reports that in 2015 there were 190 fatalities due to drinking. There were 2,900 injuries. The NHTSA (United States Department of Transportation) websites report that every day 29 people die in the country in impaired driving accidents. That’s one every 50 minutes in the US. The other pertinent fact here is that, last I knew, TSM has a nearly 80% log-term success rate.
I find that conjunction of facts bleak and awful: there are so many accidents in my state alone due to AUD, but I’ve not really heard back from any authority I’ve reached out to and notified of the Sinclair Method.
By the way, I did try and look for more recent statistics from my state department of transportation as to the impact of AUD on driving on the roads in my state, and couldn’t seem to find more recent figures. I’ve also tried reaching out to local doctors on the subject of TSM as well, and gotten as little return communication.
I’ve also reached out to famous daytime TV talk show hosts about TSM and gotten no answer.
So, for me, the hope of the Sinclair Method lies in other countries. In the US, the Sinclair Method may always be grass-roots. I’ve gotten spare copies of Miss Claudia’s memoirs and donated them to my local library.
I’ve also bought spare copies of Dr Eskapa’s ‘The Cure for Alcoholism’ and donated that too. It IS a human rights Issue. In my last job, the woman who trained me was killed by her husband because she told him she was leaving him. He would sit in the bars and drink and brag he would hurt her if she did leave. He’s in prison for life, at tax payer expense. This happened just as I was learning about the Sinclair Method. In America, it may always be people who have gone through pharmacological extinction reaching out to people who need the news.
In the States, it may always be a case of AUD folks helping other AUD folks. The attitude that says, ‘If you have drinking problem, DON’T DRINK’ is just too prevalent here, on too many levels. For my part, I’ll keep an eye on how things develop in other countries and applaud the success there.
My best to you Gary – Marie
Thank you, Marie. This has been a really good, insightful interview. Thank you so much for your time, your input and for spreading the word – it’s really appreciated. I love your chalk drawing, by the way! (and have made it the leading image in the article) 🙂
The following article is what you might call an epistolary… an electronic “chain letter” (using instant messaging and e-mails) between myself and Lesa, a member of the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook forum, collected and re-edited here in a Q & A format.
…I like doing these types of things, I must say.
It makes a real change from the onus being just on boring ol’ me… and I like how it makes for a really organic article.
I pretty much just got lucky. I went to a 30 day in-house Rehab and AA and I couldn’t stop drinking.
I was a disaster and I felt like I was sinking further and further down.
A friend of mine who’s an avid AAer told me about naltrexone but didn’t know really what it did. I started researching and came across Dr. Roy Eskapa’s book, The Cure for Alcoholism. I read it and went to my doctor and asked her to prescribe it to me.
I didn’t even mention TSM because I was worried she wouldn’t give it to me. I was given the prescription and told not to drink but if I did it wouldn’t hurt me*. I started it right away.
[*Note: this is NOT the correct way to prescribe naltrexone for The Sinclair Method. The correct protocol is to advise the patient to take a naltrexone pill one hour before their first drink and not to take it on any days that the patient does not drink.]
[After a short break the conversation then picks up again a few days later by way of e-mail correspondence]
Hope you’re well. I’ve had an odd couple of days where I’ve not been able to find the motivation to do much (February is always like that for me – it’s just a dead month here in Hartlepool).
I’ve been thinking about my blog and I think that I might do a whole series of interviews like this with different people at different stages of recovery with TSM… why? Well, because I think readers are getting a bit bored of hearing “Gary’s story” all the time and would be grateful to hear other people’s points of view.
So… continuing on with our interview… I have a question for you: I note from your posts on the Your Choice, Your Recovery forum that you’re someone who very much supports medically assisted alcohol addiction treatments such as TSM as well as other stuff like baclofen and gabapentin, etc… and my question is what do you say to people who don’t support a biological model of alcohol addiction? What do you say to people who view it as “an illness of the soul” (a view supported by many AA members)? Or, for that matter, people who view alcoholism as a “choice” rather than a disease? (a view supported by some psychologists)
I have been dealing with this for a while now. AA is so infiltrated into our society no one wants to hear anything else.
“It sounds to good to be true!” or “Lesa, there’s no magic pills.”
So I respond like this, “If I go to my doctor and I tell him I am sad and nothing makes me happy, he’d probably diagnose me with depression. He wouldn’t tell me to “choose” to be happy and go find “God”.
That would be malpractice, especially if I committed suicide.
Yet, we live in society that is brainwashed into believing that if someone is alcoholic they need to find a “spiritual awakening” and “choose” not to drink.
It’s completely absurd!
There are medications that repair the eroded neuropathways from addiction and balance-out the neurotransmitters that cause anxiety and depression caused by alcoholism. I take Naltrexone as needed and Acamprosate to balance out the neurotransmitters. They are a great medication team to cut cravings and create homeostasis (balance) back to pre-addictive state.
It’s absolutely ridiculous we (TSM) folks are educating society on this scientifically proven and evidence based method to cure alcoholics instead of doctors. We really need to make a movement to help so many people suffering from alcoholism. Not only is society ignorant to these medications they fight the scientifically proven method! It’s pure madness.
…I think you’re right: ignoring an effective, safe and dignified treatment in favour of a less effective, antiquated one IS malpractice… it goes against the Hippocratic oath.
It’s like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.
I mean, it’s a question of human rights, surely? It’s like this: if there was a ground-breaking treatment for diabetes or cancer that was being denied to people there’d be an absolute uproar, but because TSM is for alcohol addiction it’s like nobody gives a sh*t about our rights – don’t you think?
That’s a great point. I am going to start using it. You’re right, if there was ground breaking medication for any major illness that was available and not used there would be an uproar. I am going to use this in my arguments with non-believers.
Here’s a question that I wanted to ask… I note that you work in law enforcement… and my question is this: would attending AA meetings not put you in a potentially very compromising position if you found yourself sitting in a room elbow-to-elbow with people you’ve previously arrested?
I mean, okay, there’s the “who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here” card and there’s the twelfth tradition… but in this age of social media you have AA members breaking their own traditions online all the time…
Actually that’s another dilemma I had to deal with in AA.
I am actually a sergeant in the jail which makes it even harder because you spend 40-60 hours a week with people who hate you. They love to get dirt on staff.
12% of AA members are court ordered so there’s no desire to keep that private. I live in a very small community in Northern California called Humboldt County. We have the second highest crime rate per capita in the State to only be beat by Oakland, California.
Most of the people who commit crimes are influenced by drugs and alcohol so as you can see going to a program or going to AA in my area can prove difficult. I had to go out of the area for rehab that was professional and first responder based to feel safe. AA meetings had many offenders and I found that made that support system even more ineffective for me as well.
So thank God for TSM and MAT (medication assisted treatment).
…So I notice from my newsfeed that you’ve set up a Facebook page. What can you tell us about that? This is very much inspired by what you’ve read in Roy Eskapa’s The Cure for Alcoholism and Linda Burlison’s A Prescription for Alcoholics, right?
I want to be a part of a movement that educates society on new approaches that treat addiction. I find it ridiculous that society is so brainwashed by AA. I know that it takes a strong person to be a linchpin but I think I am up to the challenge. I am inspired by several people: Claudia Christian, Dr. Roy Eskapa, Dr. David Sinclair (of course), Linda Burlison, Lance Dodes and you. Plus, all the many people who are willing to speak out against the masses and are making positive change. I really want to be a part of this movement and see real change.
I have dedicated my page, The Game Changer for AUD with Pharmacological Extinction (see HERE) to helping as many people as I can. I am currently working on a class dedicated to teaching people about the brain, addiction, alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) and medications used to control and cure the disease. I created and taught many classes for law enforcement and I am going to use those learned skills to teach my new passion TSM and MAT.
However, I am a novice blogger and Facebook page manager so I am still learning in that area.
On my page, I show and talk about books that not only talk about TSM and MAT but provides the proof of the statistics and the information that back it up. I also bring up issues and add some of my personal information and issues I’ve dealt with going against the grain.
I hope you join me and I look forward to creating my class and sharing it with all of you.
That sounds great!
I use WordPress as my blog platform, by the way. It’s a blogging platform/website builder that’s really user-friendly and really easy to learn. You don’t have to have any real experience with coding or anything like that to set up a decent looking website with WordPress.
…Okay, well I think we’ve just about come to the end of the road with this article, Lesa. Thank you so much for your input and long may your success with The Sinclair Method continue. Also, all the best with your new projects!