I started the Sinclair Method (TSM) and the medication naltrexone back in August of 2017 to get a handle on my drinking. I had battled with alcohol for ten years – attempting sobriety dozens of times without it ever "sticking."
When I went on TSM, I had pretty my zero intention of going sober, I simply wanted to be able to moderate my drinking. Truth be told, I was scared to death of sobriety and couldn't imagine myself there. The idea of sobriety to me at that time felt like torture – because that's mostly what it was for me with every attempt I'd tried before.
Sure, I'd have some good things happen during my bouts of sobriety. I'd usually get really physically fit and healthy, I got into buddhism and medication and even had moments of thinking, "sobriety is awesome, I can do this!"
But those experiences could never compare to the incessant cravings for alcohol that never seemed to quiet when I was sober. I'd battle daily with alcohol cravings – doing anything to distract myself and keep myself busy so I wouldn't give in to them.
Most of the time I also felt like sobriety just wasn't "fun." I'd feel like I was missing out on drinking and held the belief that alcohol made everything fun...
I'd secretly be jealous of people who'd be out sipping wine or enjoying margaritas on a warm day... and I'd avoid tons of social functions simply because I knew I'd be triggered. Many nights, I'd take a sleeping pill to fall asleep early because the evenings were when the cravings were the worst.
Then eventually, whether it was after one week sober or 6 months sober, I'd cave in and figure – nah, I don't have a problem. Or, if sobriety is going to be like this then I don't want to be sober. Just give me the warmth of the booze buzz.
As I write this today, I am 7 months sober thanks to TSM. And I can honestly say I haven't had one single craving or even a tiny desire for alcohol. I LOVE sobriety now and sometimes it's still hard for me to believe.
The Sinclair Method gave me the ability to drink moderately and overtime, totally removed my cravings for alcohol – and it was so empowering. I went from someone who'd get blackout drunk by binge drinking a bottle or two of wine in the evenings, to someone who would enjoy a glass or two with friends then go back home and read my book or take a bath and remember the whole evening. It's amazing how pleasurable those simple things in life can be. Normally, I would have been way too drunk to read a book or would have continued drinking as soon as I got home.
It was incredible. Honestly, I think this is what every alcoholic or person with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) dreams of. To be able to control our drinking... be a "normal" drinker like everyone else. And TSM gave me this gift and ability in a way that was better than I ever expected. My life drastically began to improve in all areas because I was getting to a place where I was back in control of alcohol.
So, why did I end up going sober when I could have the best of both worlds – I was the "moderate drinker" I'd always dreamed to be?
Well, there's a couple reasons.
First of all, the way the naltrexone works is by blocking the pleasure effects of alcohol. It doesn't block all of the pleasure effects, but most of them. So since a person is getting less pleasure from something, naturally they will want it less and consume it less. Think about it – do you crave a food you don't enjoy, or that doesn't give you pleasure? No, we tend to avoid it, right? Therefore, the longer I was on the method, the less and less I drank. My desire for alcohol steadily decreased over the course of the year that I was practicing TSM.
Alcohol became less and less pleasurable with every TSM drinking session. And toward the end of my drinking, I couldn't even finish a glass of wine because there was no pleasure left for me in it anymore. After a year of 150+ repeated drinking sessions on naltrexone, I had lost all interest in alcohol.
This made it really easy for me to say "no" to drinks because I genuinely felt repulsed from alcohol. Yuck.
But that didn't mean it was "easy" to go sober, or even an overnight decision. After 1 year on TSM, I was to the point where I couldn't even finish a glass of wine. And I was starting to have hangovers no matter how much I drank because I had lost my tolerance to alcohol. I would also notice that I'd feel the alcohol in my system days after I drank – feeling in a mind fog and just not well. But even though I was so turned off from alcohol, I was still afraid to give it up for good – to put the sober stake in the ground. And honestly, that's what's so great about TSM is that you don't have to commit to going sober – you can still have the option to drink if you want because it gives you the control over drinking... sobriety should only be the end goal if that's really what you want for yourself.
So, I spent 4 months contemplating if I really wanted to go sober, or if I wanted to have the occasional drink once in a while. Alcohol for me was like a bad lover who I knew was wrong for me but I wasn't ready to leave. I had a 10 year relationship to alcohol and it took time for me to consider if I was ready to end it for good.
There was also a large amount of social pressure to drink (which a good portion I put on myself). I had fears that my husband or friends wouldn't think I was fun if I didn't drink. I wanted to "fit in" and not have people treat me differently if I told them I wasn't drinking anymore.
In the end, I decided to go sober. Why? Because when I got real with myself, I discovered that this is actually what I really wanted. I began to tap into the person I was before I got addicted to alcohol, and I remembered how I actually hated alcohol – I hated the buzz, the feeling of being "out of control" and I hated hangovers. Sometimes you hear from people who said they knew they loved alcohol the first time they tried it. For me, It was not that way. It took me years to develop an alcohol dependence because I'd often force myself to drink to fit into the crowds. I also watched how alcohol had negatively impacted close family members and friends. As a kid I used to be terrified of it and swore I'd never drink because it made my family members do crazy things and be violent and mean.
And of course, my husband and friends still love me and I know I am a better wife and a better friend when I'm sober.
Lastly, over the course of the year on TSM, I learned how to enjoy life sober...and it's sooo enjoyable! I get so much joy and appreciation out of simple pleasures – good meals, the smell of flowers, reading a book, watching sunsets, connecting with friends....and the list goes on. I see sobriety with a whole new set of eyes.