TSM – One Year On The Sinclair Method – Joanna’s Journey

It is one year today since I took my first naltrexone tablet, 12th October 2013.

One year since I decided I was tired of fighting the constant and never ending battle of staying sober and then falling off the wagon.   I was exhausted and weary – tired of hurting the people who loved me, and tired of hurting myself.  Tired and ready to give up.  Everything in my life was under control when I was sober, but slipping slowly into utter disaster when I was drinking.  In my case, I was a functioning alcoholic for many years but even that was slipping out of my control.

If the Sinclair Method didn’t work, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next.  I’d tried everything I could think of to stay soberOver the years I’d tried every which way possible to get sober and could manage for a while, but for the life of me I couldn’t stay sober.  So many broken promises that even I didn’t believe anymore.


It had been two weeks previously, on 30th September 2013, that I’d called out for help. It was a forced decision – etched forever in my brain. There was no possible defence against the argument that night. I was too tired to even try. Given a final ultimatum, all I had for comfort was the knowledge that after having read Claudia Christian’s book Babylon Confidential followed shortly afterwards by Dr Roy Eskapa’s book The Cure For Alcoholism.

Two weeks after, on 12th October 2013, I sat in my front room with a packet of tablets and a drink. Following instructions, I took the first half tablet and waited. And cried. I literally cried because this seemed ridiculous. What if TSM didn’t work for me?

That evening was a turning point in my life, though I didn’t really understand the importance of it at the time. It wasn’t an earth shattering experience of change, but looking back from where I stand right now…. yes, my life has turned completely around and it all began that evening. It hasn’t always been easy and there has been times when I’ve felt ready to jack it all in and just say enough is enough, but no one ever said life was easy, right? I am so thankful that during those times, there has been support behind me so I didn’t fall.

Was it worth it? Oh yes, it was worth it. More than that, despite the ups and downs it is an incredibly moving experience to realise that I’ve been given a second chance and that I can pass this hope of change onto others.

I suppose if Alcoholics Anonymous had worked for me I would be being congratulated on being one year sober today – except I wouldn’t be one year sober. I am under no illusion about that whatsoever. The events of the past year would have been impossible for me to cope with and remain sober at the same time. That is how it would have been, based on my own experiences of what I can and cannot cope with. I am not saying other methods of recovery do not work, but what I am saying is that they didn’t work for me. The Sinclair Method has worked for me and is working to this day. It really is that simple.

Which brings me quite nicely to the point of writing this…..

I was lucky enough to have a very drastic and quite sudden reaction to TSM. Within weeks my drinking had reduced to very low levels, to the point that within a few short months I was barely drinking at all. On those few occasions when I did drink, after one or two drinks I’d had enough. I thought this was wonderful of course, perhaps the ideal situation to be in.

In the past few months there has been a lot for me to deal with in my personal life. I’ve dealt with it all, which in all honesty is quite incredible in itself. For someone like me with a tendency to want to run and hide away from anything that brings discomfort, it is not only incredible but almost impossible to comprehend how I’ve managed to work my way through everything that has been going on.

However, I was becoming aware that although I was managing things quite well, thoughts of drinking were in my mind more often than previously. I started to wonder if responding so quickly to TSM was actually such a good thing for me. Had the pharmacological extinction actually happened? Had I given it time to happen before I’d all but stopped drinking?

Accidently (and it was an accident because I was absolutely sure that I had taken the naltrexone) I drank without the protection of the medication. Yes, I’m human and I’m not perfect! I knew almost immediately that I’d messed up – as soon as I felt the endorphin rush kick in. And boy, did it kick in! At first I thought I hadn’t waited the hour for some reason and then was completely distraught to realise that I hadn’t even taken the tablet at all.

And this is when I started to wonder whether maybe the extinction hadn’t completely happened for me. Any normal person would realise and stop immediately, take the missed tablet and wait the hour. What did I do? I thought ‘f*** it’ and continued drinking.

So passed five or six days of me hiding away, virtually disappearing off the face of the planet. I was angry and was turning all that anger in on myself. Remember that feeling of failure you likely experienced when having to admit that you messed up and fell off the wagon? How it feels to have to go back to day 1, like you’ve just hit the snake on a game of snakes and ladders and were in freefall back to the beginning without a parachute? I couldn’t even admit it to myself, let alone those close to me who realised something was wrong. I pushed them away, exactly as I always had before.

It took me almost a week to realise that all that had really happened was that I’d make a mistake! Why was I beating myself up over it?

I had never intended to drink without the naltrexone, I simply thought I had taken it when I hadn’t. That was a mistake. The following days were not – they were intentional based on how I always reacted when I fell off the wagon. Looking back, it isn’t a failure because I have inadvertently realised the danger of drinking without the medication. Of course, I’d rather it hadn’t happened at all but it does show that the person behind this site really is human. I make mistakes occasionally. So, what next? Do what I’ve always done and continue putting myself through hell, or admit that I messed up?

I put myself back onto TSM very quickly. For the next 2-3 weeks, I took a tablet and drank almost every day. Just one or two drinks because as before, the switch was in the off position thanks to the naltrexone and I literally didn’t want to drink anymore.

For me, this TSM refresher was vital. When I realised that I was no longer wanting to drink at all again, I knew it had done it’s job. If anything, I feel more assured than I did previously. Towards the end of the refresher I was even having to force myself to drink because I really didn’t want to but I wanted to go on until I was absolutely sure that the experience was completely gone from my brain.

It was important that my brain stopped remembering the endorphin kick again. I didn’t want to be in a position of romancing how huge that rush felt. After a few weeks of TSM all I could remember was the ‘nothingness’ of drinking again. That is how I want it to be. I feel more assured that extinction has now completely happened for me. It took a slight hiccup and about 10 months for me to make it, but I got there in the end. You can too. It may take longer than you would hope, but it should happen. Learn from my accident and always ensure that you are extra vigilant.

Since then, I have actually felt turned off from drinking. I’ve not only felt indifferent towards it – I’ve even felt a bit nauseated with the thought. It just doesn’t appeal at all.

In one year I’ve not only changed my life but am now working to raise awareness of The Sinclair Method too. If you had suggested to me a year ago that this would be happening, I would never have believed it. The fact that you are reading this now is testament to a hell of a lot of hard work. Not just my hard work, but the hard work of others too.

I am really very honoured and humbled to have your support in this. To those who have helped me through this last year I am grateful beyond words. To my closest friends and family, I am proud to now be someone you can rely on, no matter what.

And to the person in my life who forced me down this route in the very beginning…. well, there really are no words to express how I feel.

All this in one year? Who would’ve thought eh?

The future is bright 🙂