Updated: May 8, 2021
Author: Vanessa Hamalian APRN
Yes, it is possible to be cured of alcohol use disorder WITHOUT the guilt and the punishment.
Abstinence is not the only option.
First, let’s discuss what Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) actually is. Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD, is a medical condition where a person is not able to control or stop the use of alcohol in spite of negative affects at home, work, school or socially. These negative effects can be minor, embarrassing and inconvenient but they can also be severe, leading to the loss of relationships and careers.
The risk factors for Alcohol Use Disorder are;
· Early alcohol use; those who drank prior to age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop AUD as compared to those that waited until after age 21 to start drinking
· Genetics; research has shown that alcohol use disorders in adoptees correlate more closely to the biological parents than the adoptive parents
· Psychiatric conditions; Depression, ADHD and PTSD are all associated with a higher risk for AUD
Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for Alcohol Use Disorder which is defined as
· 3 or more drinks in a day or 7 or more drinks a week for women
· 4 or more drinks in a day or more than 14 drinks a week for men
Binge drinking is a risk factor as well and is defined as
· 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours for women
· 5 or more drinks in about 2 hours for men
Here is a screening tool that is used to diagnose Alcohol Use Disorder
The basis of the treatment is a medication called naltrexone. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the feeling of euphoria that reinforces the desire to drink and can eventually lead to an inability to say “no” to alcohol. This is what society has labeled alcoholism.
Dr. Sinclair’s research identified studies which indicated that in some people, the pathways which are activated by alcohol are the same ones that are activated by morphine and heroin. The Sinclair Method is built on the principle that the behavior of the brain can be changed by changing the feedback that the brain is getting.
The brain has two different ways in which it can change its own wiring. Behaviors can be encouraged or increased when there is reinforcement, and those same behaviors can be decreased and stopped when the reinforcement is removed for a long enough period of time.
Naltrexone blocks the effects on the opioid system, with time, the brain adjusts to the lack of reinforcement it receives from alcohol. The cravings decrease which leads to decreased alcohol use, sometimes people stop drinking entirely. Naltrexone takes the reins away from the bottle and puts the control back in the individual’s hands.
Naltrexone is a pill that is taken at least 1 hour prior to the first drink of the day. A pill is not taken on the days no alcohol is consumed. The treatment will continue to work as long as the naltrexone is taken at least one hour prior to drinking. Sometimes there are relapses, however, treatment can and should be resumed immediately. Most insurance plans will cover naltrexone. The cash price for naltrexone is less than a dollar a pill.
There are multiple support groups for those that are interested in learning more about The Sinclair Method as well as support once the treatment is started.
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