Why Haven’t I Already Heard of the Sinclair Method?
Imagine for a moment the positive social
consequences if Nancy Reagan had promoted the effective Sinclair Method rather than the ineffective
“Just Say No” national campaign against alcohol and drugs. Some influential leaders in New England
had plans for possible promotion schemes, for example, in the military, but for one reason or another,
their discussions with the Finns promoting the method never worked out and the plans never
The United States Is Ahead of the United Kingdom but Still Lacks Knowledge about
America may be slow in adopting naltrexone and slower still in accepting its correct usage, but it still is
far ahead of Great Britain. Given that the United kingdom has one of the highest rates of alcohol
bingeing and addiction in the world—and with perhaps some of the youngest drinkers—it is scandalous
just how much naltrexone and nalmefene have been ignored by government and industry.*
Although naltrexone is specifically approved for alcohol treatment in the United States and almost all
European countries, including Russia and the countries formerly part of the Soviet bloc, in India,
Australia, and beyond, it has not been approved for alcoholism in the United kingdom. It boils down to
this: because naltrexone is a generic medication, it was simply not worth a pharmaceutical company’s
investment in the clinical trials specifically needed for approval—in a market already open to
competition. It is a mystery why, in 2005, the government spent $400 million treating sixty-three
thousand alcoholic patients in specialist care—at more than $6,000 per patient—yet ignores all the
positive data on naltrexone.
Just as baffling is the fact the British National Health Service (NHS) does not permit its general
practitioners to prescribe naltrexone for alcoholism in a country said to be “losing the battle with the
bottle.” After all, with the United kingdom’s advanced technology, it would be particularly easy to
implement such a program. Even if you knew how to use it for a drinking problem, naltrexone is only
available in the United kingdom if you can afford it. Naltrexone is approved in the United kingdom for
narcotic addiction (heroin, morphine), but it can only be prescribed for other purposes, such as
alcoholism, by private prescription. This means that any registered medical doctor in the United
kingdom can write a prescription for naltrexone, but the patient would have to pay for the medication.
According to Alcohol Concern, a Uk charity, one in three government NHS hospital beds is occupied as
a result of excessive drinking. It is ironic, to say the least, that the NHS will not yet pay for naltrexone in
I recently met with an American alcohol researcher who has worked with the British National Health
Service for more than twenty years. Although she knew a great deal about the literature on alcoholism,
she had hardly heard of naltrexone, and had never heard about the Sinclair Method or pharmacological
extinction. “I called two of my colleagues in the United States before our meet-ing—real hot-shots in
the field. They told me that there was just no evidence for what you and Sinclair are saying,” she
challenged. When asked, she had no idea why her colleagues did not know about the seventy clinical
trials or even about Project COMBINE (1,383 alcoholics—a major study by any standard). She held her
colleagues in such high esteem that she believed they could not possibly be wrong, saying, “Where are
the data? I need to see the references. If what you and Sinclair are saying is true, this is a total revolution
in addiction. It will change the world.”
As we saw in chapter 3, many of the top researchers in America are now studying and prescribing
naltrexone in a manner that allows extinction to occur. Naltrexone is being seen as the treatment of
choice for patients who are actively drinking, especially for those who do not aim for total abstinence.
The technique of starting naltrexone without prior detoxification was first studied among alcoholics in
the Finnish clinical trial (Heinälä et al., 2001), and first made available to the public by clinics using the
Sinclair Method in Finland. Now it is being adopted by more clinics and by physicians in general
medical settings. The ingrained assumption that alcoholics must stop drinking instantly and that
abstinence is the only way has been a major handicap in implementing the Sinclair Method. This
misinformation is only just beginning to dissipate.
Nevertheless, it is scandalous that fewer than 2 percent of problem drinkers in America and even
fewer in the United kingdom have ever been given the opportunity to use naltrexone for their addiction.
Is withholding effective treatment for alcohol addiction, even through ignorance, unethical? Illegal?
Perhaps. But the major thrust must be in correcting the situation. The Cure for Alcoholism could make
inroads into addiction by informing the world that a highly effective cure for alcohol addiction is
* Children as young as eleven are reported to be in A.A. groups for children. See “11-year-olds treated for alcoholism,” March 9, 2008, by Sarah
Manners, Wales On Sunday: http:// icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/03/09/11-year-olds-treated-for-alcohol-ism-91466-20585094/
Retrieved: March 9, 2008.