The Sinclair Method for Alcohol Addiction

What You Need to Know

What is the Sinclair Method (TSM) and how is it used to treat alcoholism?

Let’s cover the basics. What is the Sinclair Method?

The Sinclair Method is designed to curb drinking by taking an opioid antagonist medication an hour or so before drinking. The medication will block the euphoric effects of the alcohol, thus retraining the brain and reducing desire for alcohol. Usually, the positive effects of drinking reinforce our habit of alcohol consumption. The Sinclair Method is designed to break that habit by extinguishing the good vibes associated with booze. The fancy name for this technique is pharmacological extinction.

So what is the medication used in the Sinclair Method?

Naltrexone, in pill form, is the medication utilized for the Sinclair Method. Naltrexone fills and blocks the opioid receptors in the brain. “The idea is that drinking alcohol causes pleasure by triggering the release of endogenous opioids in the brain”, Dr. Sarah E. Wakeman explains on Workit’s blog. She says, “Naltrexone, by blocking the opioid receptor, prevents these endogenous opioids from having an effect and that limits the rewarding and positively reinforcing aspects of drinking.” It’s not a cure for alcohol addiction, but it can be an aid for people hoping to cut down or totally stop drinking.

Can Vivitrol be used for TSM like naltrexone?

Maybe. The Sinclair Method is studied much less than other types of alcohol treatment, but there is evidence that naltrexone in all forms can reduce cravings and decrease heavy drinking days, including in its once-a-month injection form known as Vivitrol. In one study, treatment with Vivitrol resulted in 25% greater reduction of heavy drinking days than counseling alone. In another study, Vivitrol showed greater success with those who were totally abstinent from drinking for a week ahead of receiving the shot.

How long does the Sinclair Method usually take to work?

According to a survey from the C Three Foundation, more than half of the survey participants reduced their drinking by 70% in 6-12 months. Like any recovery method, The Sinclair Method isn’t an overnight fix, but a gradual solution.

What type of doctors prescribe naltrexone?

Although it isn’t commonly known that naltrexone can be used as a treatment for alcohol addiction, including for moderation, there are no regulations limiting what type of doctor is able to prescribe naltrexone in the U.S.

Where can I go for treatment using the Sinclair Method?

Most inpatient treatment centers follow a traditional model of abstinence-based treatment, and the Sinclair Method is often begun in outpatient settings like medical offices. Workit Health offers naltrexone treatment utilizing The Sinclair Method for alcohol addiction in California. We serve the entire state via telehealth. If you aren’t in California, you can refer to the C Three Foundation’s directory of in-person and telehealth naltrexone providers.


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