Sinclair Method is the commercial name for pharmacological extinction of alcohol use disorder. It’s an emerging protocol from Europe that produces unsurpassed results compared to other models. It forms the basis of the Alcure program.
Pharmacological Extinction was invented from research sponsored by the Finnish government two decades ago and the same method, using a slightly different medication, was approved for use in the European Union countries starting in 2014.
It involves taking naltrexone, an FDA approved medication, to temporarily block the primary reinforcement mechanism of alcohol that drives excess drinking and which eventually causes a physical urge or craving for alcohol. Established from PET scan medical studies (Positron Emission Tomography), alcohol consumption will cause a small release of the body’s own version of an opioid, called “endorphins,” with each sip. Though generally not noticeable, endorphins work as a primary biological reinforcement of behavior–creating a reinforcement “loop” in some people that gets beyond their control.
Naltrexone is taken only when you drink and temporarily suppresses the effects of endorphins released from drinking, disrupting biological reinforcement during alcohol consumption and allowing for an easy decline in the urge to drink over time. Medically, that’s called “extinction.” Patients report a gradual indifference toward alcohol and are able to restore control over drinking and eventually stop completely if they choose. There are no withdrawal symptoms. Most patients restore control in 4-6 months.