addiction to alcohol
Do you drink more than you want, but find it hard to stop? Maybe you’ve just started to worry about this. Or maybe you’ve been in and out of rehab. Either way, we have a safe, inexpensive, proven treatment for you.
One of alcohol’s least-appreciated effects is that it stimulates opioid receptors in the brain. Safe, cheap and non-addictive medications can be used to block those receptors, so over time, the brain rewires. The initial result is a gradual home self-detox. In the following weeks to months, the drive to drink that was once so overwhelming simply fades away.
The medications are paired with extensive counseling sessions. Patients are coached in how to use the medications to best effect, in tracking progress, and in setting and then achieving goals. As alcohol consumption reduces, our physicians and therapists are ready to assist with other psychiatric or physical issues that alcohol abuse may have been masking.
Alcohol Drinking is a
The theoretical basis for the Sinclair Method is simple:
- Alcohol drinking is a learned behavior.
- Learned behaviors can be unlearned — or “extinguished” — when the behavior is performed but no reinforcement or reward follows.
- The “reward” or reinforcement to the brain from drinking alcohol is stimulation of the opioid receptors — and those receptors can be blocked with medications such as naltrexone.
- So the learned behavior of alcohol drinking is unlearned over time if it only occurs while naltrexone is present.
This may sound familiar to anyone who remember’s Pavlov’s dog. Ivan Pavlov was the 19th century scientist who showed that if he rang a dinner bell every time he fed his dog, the dog would eventually start drooling even at the sound of the dinner bell. The dog’s brain had learned (unconsciously — without the dog’s control) to start drooling at the sound of a bell. In the same way, those addicted to alcohol have learned (unconsciously — without their control) to feel cravings at the sight or thought or smell of alcohol. In this analogy, “the dinner bell” is the exposure to a drink of alcohol; “the dog food” is the opioid stimulus to the brain.
Pavlov demonstrated not just that dogs would learn to drool for a dinner bell; he also demonstrated that the drooling behavior could be unlearned, or extinguished. This was accomplished simply: by not providing any food after the bell was rung. In the same fashion, a person addicted to alcohol can extinguish their learned cravings: by not providing any opioid stimulus after alcohol is drunk.
So alcoholics enjoy drinking?
No. The opioid reinforcement is not “a high.” The reinforcement happens at the neuronal level, regardless of whether the drinker enjoys it or even feels it happening. In fact, particularly among heavy drinkers, alcohol often gives practically no pleasure, except perhaps the temporary pleasure of relief from terrible cravings for it.
But I drink to ‘self-medicate’
No one wants to admit to being irrational. So heavy drinkers are skilled at inventing explanations. They will say they drink to manage anxiety, depression, even insomnia. Nevertheless, when the consequences of drinking have been unfailingly unpleasant and even disastrous, when they have risked destroying families or careers, then excessive drinking can never be explained rationally.
Drinkers fool themselves?
Correct. The conscious mind is just a storyteller. It does not choose the behavior, but it has to justify the behavior to others and to itself. It thus struggles to create logical rational explanations for the unconscious, irrational behavior. However one started drinking, those who develop addictive cravings aren’t making the decisions any more. But this can be changed!
How long is the treatment?
Usually four to six months. Some patients need longer, if so we are there for you.
Is this for everyone?
No. Pregnant patients and those who routinely take opioids are ineligible.
What does it cost?
$5,000 for standard services. Does not include cost of medications.
Do I have to wait or get clean to start?
There is no detox phase. Patients can begin treatments immediately.
What are the goals?
Patients set own goals, which can change as they gain experience and confidence.
What if I’m abstinent already?
Congratulations! We do NOT recommend you start drinking again. (But if you need help staying abstinent, contact us.)
We are with you every step of the way with a tried and tested program, complete with physician consultations, therapy sessions, medications and help with tracking, controlling and reducing alcohol use. If additional issues emerge as you gain back control, we can help.
For those who need an extra level of service, our therapists and physicians can make house calls, can travel to other cities or countries, and can provide care beyond the usual treatment course for those who want or need additional medical or psychiatric care.
Are you ready
to take your life back?
Click below to book an appointment for an initial assessment.