Sinclair Method
Success Rate 

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited: September 06 ,
| 2 Sources

Sinclair method success rate - the traditional approach to alcoholism is detoxification (removing alcohol from the bodily system), abstinence (complete avoidance of alcoholic substances), and maintenance (support in abstaining from alcohol permanently). However, another approach is gaining interest.

This approach, called the Sinclair Method, has been around for about 20 years.

The Sinclair Method uses pharmacological substances (medications) to treat the physical problem of alcoholism by blocking the opioid receptors and thereby preventing the person from experiencing the effects of alcohol.

In this approach, the person continues to drink while taking a medication such as naltrexone or nalmefene one hour before consumption of alcohol.

The goal is that over time the person will crave alcohol less. In essence, it interrupts the behavior-reward cycle.

The medication reduces or eliminates the positive feelings associated with drinking alcohol and stops people from feeling good when they drink.

During repeated binge-drinking cycles, the brain produces endorphins which bind themselves to opioid receptors in the brain cells resulting in pleasurable feelings such as euphoria (excessive happiness).

By preventing this, the person becomes less and less pleased with consuming alcohol over time.

Most people begin taking the medication one hour before their first drink in order to get used to it and possibly because it acts faster if taken before drinking. Some people take the pill after their first drink, but others prefer taking it beforehand.

The medication takes approximately 2 weeks to have any effect on the person's craving for alcohol so most doctors recommend continuing treatment with naltrexone or nalmefene for at least three months before deciding if the method is effective.

Many people report lower cravings and increased control which allows them to drink moderately or not at all.

Advantages of The Sinclair Method

Proponents of the Sinclair method tout its 78% success rate and offer many advantages over other methods of alcohol recovery.

  • One advantage is that there is no need for detoxification because it happens more naturally and gradually.
  •  Over time, the alcoholic does not feel the same pleasure reward from drinking and therefore is less likely to crave alcohol over time and will drink less over time.
  •   Detoxification can be very hard physically and mentally because it is so abrupt. Many times medical care is needed to properly and safely detoxify. This can be costly as well.

Another advantage is that this method is much easier. The person simply takes a pill before drinking each time.

Outside of this new medication, their day-to-day life activities remain the same. They do not have to take time off work, go to counseling, be hospitalized, go to meetings, fight cravings, etc.

Due to the simplicity of the method as well as the ability for the alcoholic to remain in control of it, a person may be more likely to try this route.

In other words, an alcoholic may be more likely to attempt to sobriety if offered this method as opposed to one which seems difficult, overwhelming, and out of their control.

For More Detail on the Sinclair method - see here.


There are many critics of this method as well. One disadvantage is the need to take a synthetic, pharmacological medication.

Many people do not like the idea of taking prescription medications which interfere with their body’s normal processes.

Sinclair Method

In addition, there is no accountability on the part of the alcoholic. They are free to miss a dose whenever they like. So, non-compliance can become a big issue.

Critics state that it is difficult to get some who thrives on the feeling that alcohol provides to willingly give up the feeling. They may decide that they want that feeling again to experience pleasure, have a good time, escape negative feelings, or self-medicate for anxiety.

Going along with this idea, is the fact that one missed dose results in a hyper-arousal of the opioid receptors because the brain creates more of them to compensate for the effects of the medication.

This will cause the alcoholic to have a more pleasurable effect than usual and may reinforce their drinking rather than causing aversion to it.

The greatest disadvantage of the method is that it only addresses the physical side of alcoholism. It does nothing to address why the person drinks.

  • Do they feel that they need it to be social and likable? 
  • Do they use it to escape negative emotions and avoid dealing with things? 
  • Are they self-medicating for anxiety? 
  • Additionally, it doesn’t address the triggers that causes the person to abuse alcohol or the effects that their alcoholism has had on their loved ones, their careers, their reputation, etc. 

The Sinclair Method does not help the person handle these things which are all inherent problems in the life of an alcoholic. Without addressing the psychological aspects of alcoholism, the person could be vulnerable to other addictions such as pornography, gambling, or drugs. They are likely to find some other avenue to get pleasure or escape.

Will You Use or Recommend The Sinclair Method?

This is a personal choice. It’s important for you to know what your options are when it comes to treating alcoholism. Educate yourself on the pros and cons of each treatment modality and then carefully make the best decision for you.If you need more information on the Sinclair Method, or other alcoholism treatment options and programs available for you, contact a dedicated treatment provider today.


The Sinclair Method is a new and effective treatment for alcoholism. It has helped many people recover from this chronic disease.It does come with disadvantages though, such as the need to take a medication daily, non-compliance can always become an issue, and it doesn't address other aspects of addiction which contribute to the alcoholic person's overuse of alcohol Regardless, it is worth considering if you or someone that you love has been diagnosed with alcoholism and needs help quitting and staying sober.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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Additional Information:

Sinclair Method - A cure for alcoholism

C Three Foundation