An Alcohol Treatment Revolution

We live in a time, when spreading information is easier than at any point in human history.  Potentially any of us can spread a message to literally millions of other people using the internet.  Whether it’s social media, a website or simply a comment on a popular page – the potential is there to reach a global audience.  In fact the problem is not the communication medium but the difficulty of information overload, there’s so much out there it’s sometimes hard to get heard above the noise.

However it’s still difficult to believe that sometimes great ideas or concepts don’t get out to wider audiences particularly in the medical research areas.   Now we’ve all probably flicked through pages of alleged miracle cures for everything from obesity to cancer involving diet, superfoods, lifestyle changes and drugs.

It’s incredibly difficult to sort out which have substance and which are the product of a vivid or deranged imagination.   It remind me of the character in the film ‘Contagion’ where a blogger pretends to ‘cure’ himself of the global epidemic that is wiping out humankind.  The reality is that the character was merely pretending to cure himself in order to   promote a drug that he had a financial interest in.  This I suspect is more commonplace than we might imagine and of course increases the scepticism that we all rightly should feel when looking  at information online.

Yet there are still cures, treatments and research which somehow get overlooked despite the wide reach of the internet.   One of the methods I became aware of is an alcohol treatment method called The Sinclair Method .  Now traditionally, treating someone who has problems with alcohol relies heavily on one specific word – abstinence.  Treatment is almost always centred around complete cessation of alcohol.  Although this is of course sensible in some respects, the problem is that it relies on constant and consistent willpower over many years.  Not surprisingly people find this very difficult to do and so cure rates are correspondingly small.

The Sinclair Method doesn’t advocate this as part of the treatment, in fact people are encouraged to carry on drinking to some extent.  The method involves taking drugs called Naltrexone and Nalmefene the latter which is distributed in Europe under the tradename Selincro (reference here) in pharmacies. This drug actually reduces the pleasure created by drinking alcohol, in effect blocking the receptors that cause alcoholism.  Slowly but surely, the patients will lose that desire to excessive drinking simply by removing the ‘buzz’.

The amazing thing is that it works, the drug starts reprogramming the brain to stop craving the pleasure of alcohol.  In fact it removes that pleasure and gradually patients reach a situation called pharmacological extinction.  The drug acts to eliminate the reinforcement of pleasure which takes place in the brain when people drink more alcohol.   It’s often not considered as a treatment by many because you must drink alongside the drug in order for it to work.   This of course is at a tangent to all traditional treatments which insist on total abstinence.

There are literally millions of people across the world who struggle with alcoholism on many levels and yet treatments like the Sinclair Method are largely unknown.   This is despite the fact that the treatment is clinically proved with trials reporting a success rate of over 78% much higher that referring patients to something like AA.   Sometimes information can be hidden but when it comes to the internet, it’s often hidden in plain sight!

John Williams

http://cipec.org/