The Sinclair Method For Safer Alcohol Consumption

The Sinclair Method For Safer Alcohol Consumption

Safer Alcohol Consumption

The Sinclair method offers just anyone a path to safer alcohol consumption. Over consumption of alcohol affects nearly one in every 8 adults in the USA. I often get asked about moderation and where to start. Often, Many programs recommend that to stop the addiction. One must completely cease alcohol consumption immediately. Many people don’t want to live a life of abstinence. They enjoy alcohol and want to continue to use it, just in a more controlled fashion.

The Sinclair Method is a program of leaning to moderate drinking, using therapy and medication.

What exactly is the Sinclair Method?

The Sinclair Method is named after Dr. John Sinclair, who devised this treatment. The treatment significantly lowers the amount of alcohol one consumes. This treatment has been widely used in Europe and is now gaining recognition in North America. Numerous data indicate that it has high success rates and is cost-effective.

What does the Sinclair Method involve?

The Sinclair Method utilizes a medication, called naltrexone, to help people reduce the amount of alcohol consumed. This medication helps reduce the cravings for alcohol. Unlike complete abstinence, this pharmacological approach is attractive, as it does allow the alcoholic to drink small amounts. However, over time, the medication blocks the centers in the brain that make alcohol drinking pleasurable and eventually the patient may discontinue drinking altogether.

How is naltrexone prescribed?

The Sinclair Method of using naltrexone has several approaches. Some clinicians may ask the patient to stop drinking before they start taking the medication. Other clinicians may ask the patient to reduce the amount of alcohol while taking the medication. Naltrexone does not immediately reduce the amount of alcohol consumption. Some individuals may continue to have 1-2 drinks for a few weeks or months, and then gradually stop drinking altogether.

From the work of Dr. Sinclair, he observed that naltrexone did not work well if the patient was asked to remain completely abstinent. On the other hand, he observed that naltrexone worked well when the patient continued to drink alcohol. Naltrexone gradually leads to a decrease in alcohol consumption, cravings and relapse rates.

When should naltrexone be taken?

It is recommended that naltrexone be taken 60 minutes before consuming any alcohol. For example, if you are attending a party, then take the naltrexone before you leave home.

How does the Sinclair Method reduce addiction to alcohol?

The key thing to understand is that naltrexone reduces the pleasure derived from drinking alcohol. When people drink alcohol, there are certain chemicals or neurotransmitters released in the brain. The neurotransmitter endorphin is released and this chemical is known to make people feel good, carefree and less stressed. Thus, people tend to drink more to get the same euphoric feeling. Endorphins also cause a craving for alcohol and this makes it difficult for the person to stop drinking alcohol.

Dr. Sinclair realized that breaking the connection between alcohol and endorphins was the key. Thus, he started to use Naltrexone, which acts by blocking the release of endorphins. Once naltrexone is in the body, the endorphins are no longer released and the individual does not derive the same pleasure and gradually stops consuming alcohol.

What else can help me overcome alcohol addiction?

Successful using the Sinclair method to reduce alcohol consumption is improved when lifestyle factors are also addressed, such as in the bulleted examples.

  • Learn to cope with stress and do not place reliance on alcohol.
  • Avoid triggers that make you drink. For example, avoid work-related parties at bars
  • Without making a show, Let it be known to your family and friends that you are no longer going to be consuming alcohol. If your friends drink alcohol, you will need to distance yourself from them.
  • Develop a support system that can help you with your recovery.
  • Develop a healthy lifestyle meaning exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet and manage stress effectively. These factors will make it a lot easier to overcome alcohol addiction.
  • Finally do activities or things that are not centered around alcohol, like getting active in sports.

Does Naltrexone have side effects?

Naltrexone is a relatively safe drug. In small doses, the drug may cause nausea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety. These adverse effects occur in less than 3% of people and are of short duration.

How long do I have to be on Naltrexone?

Most people need to be treated for 3-12 months to make a lasting change to the quantity that they consume. Doctor Sinclair’s theory is that after 12 months, the brain will no longer associate alcohol with pleasure. You will no longer crave alcohol.

Will the Sinclair Method help me overcome alcohol addiction?

The Sinclair Method has very high success rates for treating alcohol addiction. Studies indicate that 8/10 individuals reduce their consumption of alcohol within 3-12 months. The chances of success are high if you follow the bulleted steps.

  • Are motivated, and continue to take the medication.
  • Define specific goals and track progress towards them.
  • Change your lifestyle, altering triggers and behaviors.
  • Work with a counselor or a coach at the same time.

Key points about the Sinclair Method

  1. It is important to reach out to a healthcare provider who manages alcohol addiction, knows the Sinclair Method and can set your goals.
  2. Take naltrexone one hour before you start to consume alcohol.
  3. Take naltrexone exactly as prescribed.
  4. To get the maximal benefit of the Sinclair Method, combine it with or some type of counseling.
  5. Maintain a drinking journal so that you can track the amount of alcohol consumed.


  1. Naltrexone: Not Just for Opioids Anymore. Sudakin D et al. J Med Toxicol. (2016)
  2. Meta-analysis of naltrexone and acamprosate for treating alcohol use disorders: when are these medications most helpful? Maisel NC et al. Addiction. (2013)
  3. Naltrexone and alcohol effects on craving for cigarettes in heavy drinking smokers. Green R et al. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. (2019)
  4. Leighty AE, Ansara ED. Treatment outcomes of long-acting injectable naltrexone versus oral naltrexone in alcohol use disorder in veterans. Ment Health Clin. 2019 Nov 27;9(6):392-396. doi: 10.9740/mhc.2019.11.392. eCollection 2019 Nov.


About Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach. Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.

Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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