STEP FIVE: THE GOLDEN STEP – STAYING CURED
How Do I Know I’m Cured?
You will know when you are cured when your craving for alcohol is noticeably reduced. Because de-addiction is automatic and integral to the Naltrexone or Nalmefene + Drinking formula, you will become increasingly aware that you are less preoccupied with getting the next drink and that you are drinking less as you progress through treatment. Your interest in alcohol will wane. You no longer need it. You can take it or leave it.
In summary, these are the main indicators of success:
- You are drinking within the safety limits or not drinking at all.
- Your craving levels are way down or non-existent.
- Your mood has improved and you feel better physically and emotionally.
- Hangovers are history.
- Others notice that you are drinking less.
- Alcohol no longer dominates your thoughts or rules your life, and you have stopped obsessing about the next drink.
- You have simply lost interest in drinking – you can take it or leave it.
- Your confidence and self-esteem have improved.
- Your relationships no longer suffer as a result of your drinking.
- Your psychological and physical health has improved. Your depression has lifted. Your liver function is improved.
You are cured because your brain has been restored to the condition it was in before you began to drink. This means that the reflexive addictive wiring is no longer connected in your body. Based on the empirically tested discovery of pharmacological extinction, the treatment has proved to be the most powerful alcohol de-addiction tool in the arsenal of weapons against alcoholism. Indeed, prior treatments were like using bows and arrows against addiction. The Sinclair Method presages a new era in treatment, not only for alcohol, but for many other substances (for example, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine) and non-substance addictions (for example, gambling).
You did not need lengthy, expensive, and unpleasant detox and costly hospitalisations. You did not have to experience delirium tremens (the shakes) or seizures. There was no need to break promises that you would never dink again. De-addiction did not have to be difficult or painful. You did not need to embrace a new ideology, religion, or rigid treatment regime. You did not have to suffer needlessly. You no longer end up disappointing yourself and others. Now you are drinking – if you have chosen to continue drinking – within safe limits. Or because, for the first time in years, you are easily able to choose not to drink at all.
Once you have successfully completed the full course of pharmacological extinction, your brain is restored to the state it was in before you had your first drink, before you learned the craving and the addiction. The little voice in your head asking for a drink is either dulled or simply gone.
The Golden Rule of the Cure
If you are a patient following the Sinclair Method you have only one absolute rule: take naltrexone or nalmefene before drinking. You must take your medication for the rest of your life – but only when you drink alcohol. Following this Golden Rule is easy to do. Always take your medication before drinking.
If you begin to drink without the medication, you will undo the gains you have made. If you drink without your medication, even though you have completed the full course of treatment and are ‘cured’, one can predict with a high degree of confidence that you will eventually return to where you began. On average, it will take you roughly three to six months to reach your original craving and drinking levels and become re-addicted – re-wired – if you drink without naltrexone or nalmefene.
Of course, a single drinking session without naltrexone will not re-addict you are completing the Sinclair Method. However, before you ever contemplate drinking without naltrexone or nalmefene, ask yourself if it is worth taking the first step back on the road to addiction again. Remember, extinguished behaviours can be relearned if they are made while reinforcement is not blocked, and the relearning is faster than the original learning. Naltrexone or nalmefene is your insurance policy against relearning the addiction, and therefore against relapse. Always take your medication before drinking – if you drink.
‘Recovering’ versus ‘Recovered’
If you follow this Five-Step Plan meticulously for at least three to four months, the wiring controlling the craving and drinking in your brain will be weakened to the point where your nervous system will be restored to virtually the same state it was in before you began to drink, before you learned how to crave alcohol, and before you lost control. This is what is meant by being cured of your addiction, and why the Sinclair Method is such a profound breakthrough in psychological medicine. Over months of treatment, the primary cause of the alcoholism – the super-strengthened system – is destroyed. The connections between neurons in your brain that had been reinforced so often and so well by endorphins when you drank have now been weakened and silenced. No other treatment has ever been able to claim that it can remove an addiction from your nervous system so that you are cured by the treatment. Being de-addicted means that your opioid-reinforced brain has been returned to essentially the state it was in before you had your first drink (and the thousands that followed it), which led to Learned Alcohol Addiction.
In other words, once you have completed extinction treatment, you will be cured. Therefore, you will not, as you would with every other traditional rehab, be in a state of on-going perpetual recovery. You will not be a recovering alcoholic who is always at risk of relapsing and slipping back into benders or bouts of heavy drinking.
In biology, the term metamorphosis means ‘a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly’. The Sinclair Method allows you to become that adult butterfly.
Once you have successfully been through the Sinclair Method, you will be de-addicted. Now you are a former alcoholic – a recovered alcoholic – and will remain so for as long as you follow the golden rule.
Congratulations! You have beaten your addiction to alcohol.