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5 Ways to Know That The Sinclair Method is Working

Feb 04, 2022

Often the changes on The Sinclair Method can be so subtle that we don't even notice them...so wanted to highlight some of the subtle changes that you can and should celebrate as it's a sign of progress.

#1 You're drinking a little more slowly than you normally would

This is one sign that TSM is working that can be easy to dismiss. Even if you are drinking a little more slowly – for example it takes you 30 minutes to finish a drink instead of 15 – celebrate that! It's a sign your brain is responding to the naltrexone's effects. Practicing mindfulness can really help you notice this change.

#2 You're thinking about alcohol a little later in the day

Before TSM I would start thinking about my evening drinking session around 11am each day... it would go like, "do I drink? Do I NOT drink? What will I drink? How much will I drink? What will I drink?" etc. After about a month or more of extinction sessions (drinking on naltrexone), I noticed it would be around 2pm or so until my first thought of alcohol would come into my mind. And the longer I was on the method it just got later and later in the day. Pay attention to your thoughts around drinking and if you see them coming less often, or later in the day.

#3 Alcohol doesn't taste the same and maybe you don't enjoy the taste as much

For some people on TSM, they notice that their "drink of choice" doesn't have the same flavor, or that they just don't enjoy the taste as much. I've noticed this is especially true for wine drinkers – where their favorite wine (whether it be a red or white variety) just doesn't taste as good anymore. This is definitely a sign that you are responding to naltrexone because the endorphins from alcohol are being blocked – therefore the whole experience of drinking is slightly less pleasurable. If you think back to your first drink of alcohol – most people did not enjoy the taste – they could even be repulsed by it. But over time alcohol becomes an acquired taste due to the pleasure we get from it. But when that pleasure is blocked, the taste can become less appealing. Often people who experience this choose to switch their beverage to something else they have a greater preference for. For me, I was a red wine drinker, but after a few months on TSM – red wine just started to taste like alcohol and vinegar... so I switched to drinking white wine, beer or cider as I still enjoyed the taste of those. I could still drink red wine and enjoy it on occasion, but had much less of a preference for it.

#4 You notice that your urge to have "another drink" is a little less (though you may still drink anyway out of habit)

Sometimes this can be a tricky thing to notice because the habit for drinking can be so strong that it overpowers our brains signal that we've "had enough" alcohol. For example, if you always drink a bottle of wine each night – you might continue to do that even if your craving or desire for it is less simply because that is your usual "dose" of alcohol. I even hear people say that they didn't really want another drink – but they had it anyway out of habit. Through TSM, our brain begins to signal us that we've had enough alcohol (sort of like how it tells us that we are full when we've had enough to eat). Our role is to become attune to that signal and practice stopping when our brain tells us to. One practical way to do this is to rate your craving levels from 1-5 before each drink. Often what can happen is people start out at a 5 craving level for their first drink, but it goes down from there. This is a simple mindfulness exercise that can help you see how strong your urge for alcohol is, and cause you to pause and ask yourself if you really want the next drink. Then from there you have the decision to do something else other than continuing to drink. This habit can take some time to break so be patient with yourself – the most important thing is consistent effort with it.

#5 Though you may still have cravings to drink, they feel less intense and perhaps you're able to "question" or challenge them more before you respond to them

For most people, our cravings for alcohol begin to fade away the longer we're on The Sinclair Method. We will likely still get cravings and urges to drink for a while, but they will become less intense and less frequent over time. I know for me before TSM, when I craved a drink it became a total obsession that would intensify over time and usually didn't go away until I drank. But after a few months on naltrexone, I noticed that I would still get a craving, but it would be less intense and I could sit with it longer and ask myself if I really wanted to drink, or if I wanted to do something else. So often we've been in the habit of a "knee-jerk" response to cravings where we immediately reach for alcohol when the desire arises. But with TSM, we need to work on breaking this habit by becoming more curious about our cravings and whether or not we can meet that urge in a new way. There comes a time on this method where it can be tricky to decide if we're experiencing a true craving, or if it's just a passing thought or memory of drinking. This is where it can be helpful to practice mindfulness and try to meet the urge you have for drinking in another way. For example, for me I started to notice that feeling hungry was a trigger for me to drink. So sometimes when I got an urge to drink I would eat a meal first and tell myself that I will decide if I will drink after I've eaten. Oftentimes my urge to drink would go away after I ate a meal...sometimes it wouldn't and I would then have an extinction session. But the key was giving myself time and space to be more curious about the craving as opposed to immediately responding to it with a drink. 

I hope this was helpful for you guys!

All my best,

Katie

 

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