Abstinence or Reduction – The Alcohol Debate

If you take any substance which is both potentially bad for you and also addictive like alcohol then there always seems to be one ‘cure’ for those who have difficulties with it. The modern world brings increasing levels of stress to our everyday lives and alcohol and drugs are one way that people deal with it.

It’s easy to see how the stress levels have increased in our world. Last week I was talking to a group of friends who had recently moved to London to try and improve their careers. It was a smart move in that respect but their lifestyle changes shocked me somewhat. All of them were now faced with very long commutes and huge accommodation bills or mortgages, their expenses were substantial.

This is one of the problems with pursuing the material gains and careers, the pressure and costs rise every step you take up that ladder. Most of these people now earn more than me but ironically have less holidays and a much lower disposable income. It’s hardly surprising that they all to a man (or woman) seem to let their hair down a lot at the weekends with regards recreational drugs and alcohol. These substances have always been linked to stress so it’d often difficult to simply cut them out of your life without substantial changes to your lifestyle too.

The traditional method for dealing with alcoholism is of course complete abstinence practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous. This method is usually recommended by doctors and physicians the world over and has been for decades. Sure there are certain techniques and drugs which are prescribed to facilitate this but the end result is the same. The final destination is complete and total abstinence from alcohol for the rest of their lives.

Not surprisingly this has a dubious success rate for people from all walks of life. Certainly it does work for some people but for many it simply represents weeks, months and years of struggle with little genuine benefit. What’s more many people actually end up worse than before as the ‘only solution’ seems beyond them – they simply give up trying.

There are now other alternatives to the traditional abstinence method which suggests limiting and controlling alcohol or drug intake. That is not to say that abstinence isn’t encouraged too, but it’s not the primary goal. One of these methods is something called the Sinclair Method , an innovative approach to dealing with addiction backed by a specific drug.

The drug is something called Nalmefene which is also marketed under a number of other names such as Selincro. The idea of this remarkable drug is to reduce the pleasure of drinking by minimizing the release of endorphins which are produced when drinking. The idea is that instead of alcoholics carrying on drinking more and more to continue the pleasurable ‘high’ they get when drinking – this is blocked. All they are left with is the taste and of course possibly a habit of drinking established over many years.

This habit though is much easier to combat when the endorphin rush is reduced and people can look quite clearly at the pleasure that drinking gives them. Most people taking this drug find their drinking will plummet almost immediately with little additional effort. If the method prescribed by David Sinclair is followed there are reports of 70% and more success rate something substantiated by clinical trials. This figure is way ahead of any cold turkey/total abstention method including that of AA.

It’s surprising we don’t hear more of this potential cure, as it has been around and proven for several decades now. Sometimes we get locked into a certain frame of thinking and it’s difficult to look for other options. The Sinclair Method doesn’t stop anyone drinking but merely gives them the tools and encouragement to walk down that route, many simply cut down and drink sensibly for the rest of their lives.