I didn’t even like the taste or effects of alcohol when I first started drinking. I remember feeling unenthused at my 21st birthday party - a right of passage for youth in the USA to legally be able to consume alcohol, as friends were buying me shots that I would immediately hand off to someone else. I hated hangovers and how alcohol made me feel “out of control.” I was usually the person sipping on 1 or 2 beers at a party while others were doing keg stands. Little did I know, however, that my addiction to alcohol was waiting for me, just right around the corner.
My affinity for alcohol came as I entered into a relationship with a man who was a very, shall we say, experienced alcohol drinker. It quickly became the center of our relationship, the thing we had in common and how we spent most days together. At first I saw it as harmless, a way to have fun and loosen up - I never intended to become addicted and in fact always thought it was just a phase I would get over one day. “This is what 20-somethings are supposed to do, I’m not going to be like this forever,” I would think to myself.
A couple of years went by and not only had I turned into a closet daily binge drinker, I had also become obsessed with being thin… I couldn’t get thin enough. I had developed a good ol’ fashioned eating disorder that consisted of me counting and restricting my calories to about 1000 or less each day. I remember I would first account for the alcohol calories I was planning to consume that day, then I would see how much room I had left for food (usually it was about ½ and ½). I remember being buzzed at the beach one day, drinking a warm vodka and diet 7UP (my drink of choice at the time due to its low calorie content) and I couldn’t remember the last day that I hadn’t had a drink. Could not remember. Had it been 6 months? A year? I could not recall. This realization settled in and in my drunken state I decided I was going to take a week off from drinking. This was my first real earnest attempt to manage my drinking, and prove I didn’t have a problem with alcohol.
The next day felt like a fresh start, I was excited about the weeklong break but I remember wondering what I was going to do that evening because the usual vodka-til-blackout was not an option. Evening time came around and I noticed I really wanted a drink. I felt annoyed and bored. I couldn’t even watch a movie without thinking of alcohol. So, instead of suffering through that craving, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed.
As each day went on, so did the cravings for alcohol. Everyday I thought about drinking countless times, and really had to force myself not to give in to the desire - counting the days til the week was up. I made it through that week but barely, taking sleeping pills most nights just to knock myself out to avoid the cravings. Once the week was over, I picked up right where I left off with daily alcohol binges.
This pattern of drinking went on for nearly a decade. I would get bouts of sobriety - a week here, a month there, 6 months one time even. I would spend these times listening to hours and hours of inspiring AA talks online (there’s some really good ones!), reading 12 step books and any self-development book I could get my hands on, occasionally going to an AA meeting and eating loads of sugar and candy to fill the hole where alcohol used to be. But each time I went sober the internal conflict of craving and aversion to alcohol got so loud in me that I would eventually cave in and begin drinking again.
As the years went by, I really started to see the impact of drinking on my health, wellbeing and safety. Though it was hard for me to admit, deep down I knew alcohol was destroying me - mind, body and spirit. I would find myself again and again in very sketchy situations with people I didn’t know, my body would ache from all of the alcohol poison in my system, I had anxiety levels through the roof, hangovers were a daily experience and despite my most conscious effort not to, I would occasionally drive under the influence once I was too buzzed to have any rationality around it. I would always feel so lucky that nothing ever happened, and also had a sense deep down that it was just a matter of time before it did.
I knew my drinking was a problem, and I wanted to fix it so badly. But with all the myriad of failed attempts to quit drinking, my belief in my ability to do so dwindled. I remember thinking, “what will it take for me to finally quit!?! Do I have to hit rock bottom? Get arrested? Get cancer? What!?” I often considered a greater rock bottom my only hope, maybe that would finally scare me or ruin my life enough that I would have to be crazy to keep drinking. Yep, I was praying for my own rock bottom.
Despite my feeling of powerlessness over my alcohol addiction, I still had a small glimmer of hope that a solution had to be out there - if I looked hard enough, I would find it. For years, I spent hours online researching articles that discussed the damaging effects of alcohol (maybe something would sink in!) and blogs dedicated to a sober lifestyle (they made it look so easy…). I also implemented different diets to help curb alcohol cravings, developed a meditation practice, went to my fair share of self-development weekend workshops and watched hours and hours of inspiring videos online about how people gave up alcohol… always trying to picture myself in their shoes. While they were always so inspiring, I could never quite get there. As I was scrolling on YouTube one day, I saw Claudia Christian’s TedTalk about how she overcame alcoholism through something called The Sinclair Method. I could immediately relate to her story. I watched her talk several times, so excited yet also in disbelief that this could work. I remember searching for others on YouTube who had tried this and shared their experience, and I could not find a single video. I did not want to get my hopes up - it seemed too good to be true, I mean, how had I not heard about this before? I knew I had to try it… and I made a promise to myself that if this worked for me, I would share my experience on YouTube.
A couple of months went by as I called every doctor in my network asking for an appointment for taking Naltrexone for AUD (this was before I knew about CThreeFoundation.org and their resource list of doctors). Nobody from the doctors’ offices knew what I was talking about and the responses I got were not very encouraging. Most of them either wanted me to check-in to a rehab or detox facility for thousands and thousands of dollars (sans Naltrexone), or they had never heard of this method and therefore could not treat me for it. I remember I felt so vulnerable - reaching out to professional strangers admitting that I needed help with my alcohol addiction (quietly, so no one around could hear), and feeling like I was met with a cold, brick wall. It was awful. I was so confused. I knew I wasn’t at a rock bottom place, I still had my job and life in order, I didn’t need rehab. I just wanted to get my drinking under control.
Then, I finally stumbled on a telemedicine doctor who knew about TSM and saw me right away. I was able to get the Naltrexone prescription that day and could hardly contain my excitement in getting started. August 4, 2017 will forever be the day my life was changed forever.
Month 1 - A Glimpse of Hope
The first few times I took Naltrexone I felt very sleepy and had an upset stomach. I knew side effects were common early on so I was prepared for that. Despite the side effects, I noticed a difference right away with my desire to drink. I was typically a bottle-of-wine-a-night kind of gal, but I couldn’t even get through a full glass. A part of me figured it was just because I wasn’t feeling great, but even that didn’t typically stop me from drinking. I’d never experienced that before - normally I could finish a glass of wine anytime, no problem. But not this time. I was excited. I felt like this might just work!
As I continued taking the medication, the side effects dissipated and a pattern was emerging where every time I drank on Naltrexone, I would get a clear indicator to stop and I couldn’t even force myself to have more. Sometimes that was after 1 drink, sometimes it was after 4 drinks… but it always came. This had never happened before… blackouts or sheer willpower were the ways I cut myself off before. But this was different. This felt natural - like when we stop eating because we’re full, I had satiated my desire for alcohol and didn’t want more. It was amazing and really felt like a miraculous miracle. From there, I also started to have regular alcohol free days that happened effortlessly - where I just didn’t feel like drinking. This too was a welcomed surprise because I was someone who always felt like drinking. I felt hope for the first time in 10 years that I might just be able to fix this alcohol dependence after all.
Months 2 to 4 - Sharing My Story
After I had about 1.5 months under my belt on TSM with consistent results, I decided it was time for me to take my story to YouTube. I definitely had some fears and reservations around exposing my story like this, but I kept thinking that if Claudia hadn’t had the courage to share her story, I would have never heard about TSM (I have tears just at the thought of this). I felt that if I was able to help even just one person, it’d be worth it. Also, truth be told - it didn’t feel fair for me to keep this success all to myself because I knew that so many people were suffering from AUD just like I was. I had to let them know there’s hope and that I’m proof of it! So, I began with my first video. It actually felt really good to expose something I had kept so private for so long - like a weight was lifted by just talking openly about something that I had so much shame around. And from that moment forward, I was met with so much love and support from the YouTube community. I have received in-numerous emails and comments from people relating to my story, fellow TSM’ers and others who were struggling with their own AUD just like I was. We are not alone, even though it might feel like it at times.
Months 2 to 4 definitely had some ups and downs. There would be weeks where I’d hardly drink at all and others where I’d drink everyday. Of course, when my drinking would increase I would be afraid that this wasn’t working for me. But, I kept the faith and was sure to always comply with taking the medication 1 hour before drinking… it was a non-negotiable for me since day 1.
At this point in my TSM journey, I had really began to develop some consistent results where my alcohol consumption was steadily decreasing and the cravings were pretty much gone. I didn’t grasp how much of my mind space was being occupied by alcohol cravings until they were gone. I was beginning to feel so expansive and creative with the thoughts of alcohol removed, and with that my confidence and vigor for life began to increase. I was joyfully engaging in hobbies that I had neglected when alcohol was in control, and I was no longer seeing alcohol as an escape, but rather more of a chore. I remember one day clearly, where I had an issue come up (as they do…) and I was so upset and so angry, and for the first time in a decade, I didn’t even want to turn to alcohol to numb out of these uncomfortable feelings. Instead, I was totally sober, just feeling these emotions flow through my body. It was an incredible experience and really started me down a path of learning new and healthier ways to cope with challenges in life, rather than numbing out and trying to escape them - “the only way out is through” as they say. It was at this point that I was realizing how TSM served as training wheels for me to embark down a path of self-inquiry and healing that had always been hindered by cravings and over-consumption of alcohol. At this point, I was starting to turn a corner and see what’s really possible for me in this lifetime. The fog of alcohol addiction had lifted, and I was more mentally clear, more in tune with my surroundings and emotions, and began to feel more empowered in all areas of my life.
My health and relationship to alcohol continued to progress and transform. I was down to drinking about 1 day a week, from 6-7 days a week when I first started TSM. As time progressed and the longer I was practicing TSM, I began to gain greater perspective on how much alcohol was truly controlling all areas of my life. With time, I was breaking free from its grips, and I found myself in this humble state of gratitude for having learned about this method at all - feeling like I escaped a nightmare of alcohol addiction.
More and more I was going to social functions and with ease, opting not to drink and instead just enjoying being around good company, feeling present and engaged with my surrounding (as opposed to chasing my next drink like I used to). My birthday also happened during this time, and I didn’t have anything to drink simply because I didn’t want to. I spent time reflecting on my birthday from the previous year, where I had spent the day so hungover from drinking the night before, and was indulging in more alcohol just to numb the pain. There are photos from that day where my eyes just look lifeless, and I don’t look well. These types of experiences and reflections are what humble me in how much TSM has changed my life. I am beyond grateful and I will feel that way forever.
Things just continued to improve in ways that I could have never imagined when I embarked on this journey. My original intention when going on TSM was to reduce my drinking and stop binges. It (of course) worked like a miracle in doing that for me, but it also brought about a whole new lease on life and one where I genuinely enjoyed being sober - more so than I enjoyed drinking alcohol. Pre-TSM, sobriety was torture because my mind was so preoccupied with thoughts and cravings for alcohol. I would often find myself annoyed being in situations that didn’t have alcohol, or thinking about when exactly I would be able to drink again. But the experience of having those cravings removed totally opened up my mind to its limitless possibilities. There is so much to be curious about - both within ourselves and the outside world. I really began to understand how precious my time on earth is, and I want to savor every moment of it in an engaged and present way.
It was during this time that I reached extinction as well. It was somewhere around the 8 month mark, I don’t know the exact date. I knew it had happened because several months had passed where I hadn’t had any alcohol cravings or desire to drink. I was continuing to have a drink or two on occasion (1-2 times per month), yet making that decision from a conscious and intentional place. I really felt a sense of empowerment around my relationship to alcohol because I had become indifferent to it. I was in control, deciding if and when I would drink… not having that decision made for me based on craving and impulse. It was a beautiful experience to witness this transformation in myself.
This period of time was also one that was filled with a lot of personal challenges for me, which brought about cycles of depression and anxiety. During this time however, I noticed that I did not once turn to alcohol to cope. I just didn’t have the desire to and felt it would just contribute more to my problems rather than help solve them. I was really getting a better handle on healthy coping mechanisms for the curve balls life throws at you… and it was a deeply introspective and nourishing experience to go through that with a clear mind - I grew a lot.
During this time there were a lot of transitions happening in my life personally and professionally (for the better). I was changing things that I had manifested based on the person I was when I was drinking heavily… and I felt like I had outgrown them. For example, leaving a job with a toxic culture and beginning to step away from people and experiences in my life that did not serve my highest good. I felt ready to step into the next chapter and create a new and better version of myself. These changes weren’t easy, and required me to have courage and faith in the unknown, but all I can say now is that by letting these things go, I’ve stepped into my purpose and power in a way that feels intentional and deeply meaningful. My life lacked meaning before… alcohol was the primary source of meaning - if that’s even possible. Because of that, I always felt like something was missing in life. I knew there was more, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get there. Now I feel like I’m getting there. Of course it’s a lifelong journey, but I feel for the first time that I’m on the right path.
My drinking also continues to decrease during this time… I am down to about one drink per month and am really evaluating if I want to continue drinking at all...maybe just for the very rare occasion. I find that I don’t enjoy it anymore now that I am not addicted to it, and as I’ve said, I love sobriety so much!
I still will continue to be a major advocate for The Sinclair Method through my YouTube channel Embody Daily, and I will also create videos as I continue on this healing journey post alcohol addiction. People sometimes ask me how I can still be inspired to make videos even though I’ve reached extinction. I suppose for me right now, I still find myself in awe of how powerful TSM is in giving the seed of transformation to people struggling with AUD. It gave me a second chance at life. I feel like I dodged a bullet and I have an opportunity to help others dodge that same bullet.
By removing the alcohol addiction, it opens up a whole new reality for what’s possible in a person’s life because often the addiction is front and center, running the show. I believe as humans, we are more powerful creatures than we will ever realize - yet we cannot fully tap into that power if we are caught up in an alcohol addiction. It is so limiting. I see the transformation that has happened for me in just one year’s time, and I want to help and inspire others to experience their own transformation… and tap into more of their limitless potential.