It never dawned on me how much I would learn as I claw my way out of this rabbit hole of alcoholism. I knew there would inevitably be self discovery. But all along I thought the biggest challenge would be just not drinking. It turns out that unearthing the cause of my drinking is the hardest part. It’s nothing my doctor, my friends, or anyone has brought up – it’s something I need to find out for my own sake to avoid relapse, if and when I stop drinking the whole damned liquor store every day.

I am trying to learn.

I am finding comfort in the stories of others, and education in the trials and experiments done over the last 200 years to cure functioning alcoholics like me. Surely, something has worked for someone. The problem is, we are all different. And different causes have different results – and different results require different cures.

I am certain that I am as addicted to alcohol as I am to the reason I drink. I just don’t know what my reasons actually are.

Feeling that absence of self awareness is frustrating. I can list 40 reasons that are likely my triggers, and perhaps today I’ll actually make that list. So many people think the cure to alcoholism is to stop drinking. Sure, that’ll cure the physical addiction. It’s the mental health part – the broken parts of me that I flood and fill up with wine every day to feel whole again – that’s the part that needs a cure the most.

That cycle is the most confusing to me. I drink because of <insert this later when I figure out why> then I drink because of the alcohol-induced depression that arrives like a freeloading friend. I drink because of whatever repressed regrets and fears I have, then I drink because of the shame I feel seeing my life falling apart because I drink. I drink because I want to avoid situations, then I drink because of all the negative situations my drinking is causing.

Cycles are like whirlpools and rabbit holes – forever drawing you inward and downward.

I am hoping that through education I can build myself a little ladder. A life boat. A way to climb out.

Yesterday I discovered The Sinclair Method. I am not going to go into depth about it, and I do not endorse medicating yourself whatsoever. But, since the option for me to check into rehab isn’t possible at this time, it’s the best I can do. The Sinclair Method only addresses Part 1 of my addiction – the physical/mental addiction. Part 2, healing my soul – unfortunately there’s no pill for that. In a nutshell, you take a pill 1 hour before drinking.

That’s it.

Sinclair was influenced by the work of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, famous for making dogs salivate when a bell was sounded. Once conditioned, dogs rewarded with food after a bell had been rung would salivate at the sound of the bell itself. Over time, Pavlov would ring the bell, but he stopped rewarding the dogs with food; the salivating tapered off. This is called “extinction” and Sinclair thought the learned behaviour of an addiction to alcohol could be removed by extinction, too.

Here’s an excerpt from the Sinclair Method website, that does a better job of explaining it than I can. Plus, I’d like to just place it here for later, for self-reassurance if I ever doubt what the hell I’m doing taking pills every day:

Following his early research, Sinclair hypothesized that alcohol produces reinforcement in the brain in a way that’s similar to opiates. His research indicated that alcohol produced reinforcement by releasing endorphins that bind with opioid receptors in the brain. So a solution to stopping the reinforcement cycle might be to block the receptors every time alcohol was used. Sinclair tested his theory on rats using naltrexone, an opiate blocker, and after that he conducted clinical trials in people. The results were encouraging.

The solution discovered by Sinclair effectively means you have to drink yourself sober! This would surely be the perfect solution for many alcoholics. “Extinction” of the impulse to drink takes place over time and works for around 80% of people who use the method properly. It’s important to note that you take the pill an hour before drinking, not simply when you feel like it. Over time, the desire to consume alcohol will diminish and people end up abstaining most of the time or occasionally have a drink when they wish.

Well hot damn! Sign me up if I get to drink myself to a cure! I was given a prescription for Naltrexone – the pill used in The Sinclair Method – two days ago. (Perk: it is non-addictive with modest to no side effects). I took my first pill yesterday. 12 hours ago, to be exact. I normally start drinking at noon (trust me, I do my best to not drink before then because I could gladly start from the moment I wake up). It’s a good thing I’m married, because I’m pretty sure it’s the judgement I’d receive if I started any earlier that delays my first drink. Because of work, I didn’t have my first drink until 5pm (gasp) and as directed, took my first pill at 4pm.

As an aside, despite how wonderful my doctor is, it’s frustrating to have had to find out about the Sinclair Method on my own (it’s also frustrating that these pills are $19 a piece). Through blogs, through research, online searches, forums, I stumbled upon the method on my own. My doctor just prescribed a pill and sent me on my way without much explanation as to it’s benefits or what to expect. I suppose I should have asked more questions – but confessing to him that I’m a raging alcoholic who needs help capped out my self confidence that day.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of that office, go home, and pour myself the biggest glass of wine ever. I picked up 2 magnums on my way home, as I do every day.

I was totally surprised at how quickly ‘the pill’ actually worked. Now, it was only my first pill, and my first day – and because I’m the hugest cynic ever – I’m sure it was also a lot of mind over matter. BUT. I could definitely feel a difference in how I felt while drinking. Usually with each drink I feel my hard edges relaxing, my mood elevates and I am much more easily distracted (meaning I can forget about work and serious things).

It didn’t happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I got drunk. I still drank 1.5 litres of wine (less than normal, but I also had 5 hours less of drinking in me yesterday. On an average day it’s 2 to 3 litres). But that magical buzz I get – even with my first sip – was gone, or significantly lessened. I thought it would make me drink more to try and achieve it (after all, isn’t that how addicts get to where they are? Constantly trying to reach the unattainable high like the first time?) but I didn’t. I was noticeably more alert, and remarkably less sloppy.

High five, little pill.

I still passed out on the couch. I still woke up today missing parts of my evening. I still woke up re-reading my texts from last night as though it were my first time seeing them. But, I did wake up with a little more hope than I usually do.

And a little more is more than I had yesterday.

Todays Goal:
Make a list of reasons that may be causing me to turn to alcohol.


Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. Indeed the alcohol is not the problem, its all those wonderful emotions. Not sure I like this method, but if it works for you, then it works for you. I had to go complete abstinance there is no other way. Best wishes my friend, I hope it works

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 You should be SO proud of yourself. Health wise, cold turkey isn’t an option for me, which is why I’m looking for an adequate medical detox if I’m going to go that route. I’m at high risk of seizures if I do. I’ve found a great article about the Sinclair Method that explains the methodology: as well as a ‘year in review’ from someone who has been using it for 8 months: Fingers crossed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for visiting my blog and I’m happy to have found yours. I wish you the best. Stopping drinking was the key for me, and then I began to work on my emotional crap and was given tools to help me cope. I haven’t heard of the program you are trying. I hope you really thought about it and have doctor’s help. That’s just me being a mother hen. The fact that you are writing this blog seems to be a big step You will get a lot of support from people like me <3. I write about alcoholism/recovery and a ton of other topics. I hope that you continue on your path to health.


    1. Thank you so much Barb ❤ I have a feeling it'll be the emotional crap, too – and there's so much crap. My doctor prescribed the Naltrexone to 'help me in the meantime' while looking for a detox centre that's adequate for my situation. I'll admit it was accidental I stumbled across the Sinclair Method, but have already connected with many people having great success with it. I am so new to this, and these steps, and meeting people like you if making each step easier. So, thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a wonderful book called “Healing the Shame that Binds You” by John Bradshaw. I suspect after reading this post that you and I started drinking for similar reasons. If so you may find it helpful. Gestalt body centered therapy might also be helpful as well. I certainly found it to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The common thread – without exception – with everyone in addiction, is emotional trauma. Repair the trauma, and the addiction ends. Bypassing trauma with drugs or alcohol, makes it only ‘appear’ as if alcohol is the problem, when it isn’t at all. Dysfunctional as it is, using drugs or alcohol is a (potentially lethal) survival mode. Get proper in patient medically supervised detox and journey forward to find the cause of your emotional pain. It is NOT a disease as disease theorists will try to brainwash you into believing. There’s big money for them if they have you convinced you have some (fictitious) disease that causes ongoing relapses. Rehabs have revolving doors because they don’t work. All they do is make greedy doctors rich. The brain of an addict shows changes only DURING addiction – NOT before and NOT after. Therefore, the disease theory is debunked! As a matter of FACT, post addiction brains actually show improvement in mental function.
    There are only 2 simple ‘steps’ to getting healthy and staying that way for life… without fear or clawing your way through days that you could be enjoying. 1) answer the knock at your ‘door’ from Jesus the Messiah who has the Power to set you free and 2) work on the root cause with forgiveness. I’ve been free for 10 years… after miraculously surviving a massive drug overdose. I never once ecperiencd cravings and am forever grateful for the awesome awakening I received from my God. Now I help others out of darkness and love every moment that I breathe. I pray the same victory joy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m thrilled for you – rehab is bloody expensive. I went for opiate addiction cost me £8000 and I could only afford it cos I inherited some money. This at least gives you hope and a practical solution. Alcoholic recovery from rehab is hit and miss anyway so if this method does it – bloody brilliant

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Karen! Well, I ended up giving up on the Naltrexone – and am leaving for rehab tomorrow to be honest LOL. For a month. Bit the bullet. The Naltrexone was making me physically ill with vertigo. So, off I go tomorrow…and yes, not cheap at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry you got vertigo, about 5% of those who try TSM can’t tolerate the side effects. The side effects generally take 3-14 days to fade for most folk. There’s also Campral and Baclofen, so you haven’t exhausted the Medication Assisted Treatment options for Alcohol Use Disorder. Dr Manak at The Interior Chemical Dependency Office offers telehealth consultations all across Canada, so for those that want to try TSM or explore other Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options. If you live close to the border, you may find a US pharmacy that will honor a prescription for Naltrexone and the GoodRx website can help you get a discount at various pharmacies. Free camaraderie and moral support is available at the Options Save Lives forum for those using MAT.

    Liked by 1 person

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