Stop Binge Drinking and Regain Control With a ‘Magic’ Pill That Cures Alcohol Addiction

Stop binge drinking with a ‘magic’ pill – how naltrexone cures alcohol addiction

If you have ever suffered from alcohol blackouts; woken up in strange places; vomited in the street; or pissed your pants, then you are in the right place.

I’ve written this article to prevent others from destroying their work, finances and relationships through binge drinking. I’m not selling anything, I make no money from treating binge drinkers and I have no self-help recordings or hypnotherapy course to promote. What follows is my story and how I regained control over my binge drinking.

Out of control

I’ve never been dependent on alcohol, and could go for weeks without drinking. But I have always partied hard. When I drank, I went absolutely off the rails. I’m 34 now, and have done a great job hiding my problem from my colleagues and employers during the past 12 years. A few years ago I was in the USA on business. I got arrested for being drunk; spent the night in jail and was bailed out. I made it to work at 8:55am… just in time to deliver the opening presentation at our global sales conference. At a more recent event, I was sick all over my boss’ shoes in the back of a limousine. Another time, I woke up at the train station having pissed my pants. In fact, I have passed out in too many places to mention. Essentially I was a street bum in a suit.

Cry for help

I knew that I had a problem, but because I was not dependent on alcohol, doctors never really took me seriously. During my twenties, I went for liver function tests on 7 or 8 different occasions. I wanted the doctor to say, “Andy, you need to stop drinking or you will die.” But my excessive drinking wasn’t addressed because the test results always came back ok. I was not offered any help, support or counselling. I think I was once given a leaflet for the Samaritans.

A wake up call

In early 2011, my binge drinking episodes got worse. I destroyed my car in a drunk driving incident; I woke up in a hotel corridor having pissed my pants; after a party, I was so drunk I couldn’t remember walking home with my 3-year old boy; and in March 2011, whilst away at a conference in Paris, I spent $2,000 dollars at a strip bar on my company credit card. To add a degree of levity to this pathetic incident, I have no recollection of the entire night.

Due to ‘misuse of company property’ and gross-misconduct I was fired. Coming home I had to tell my wife. She threatened to divorce me. Losing my job and possibly my family was the wakeup call that I needed – and I turned to the internet for help.

Addressing the issue

By chance, I came across and article in the Times titled: Can a Pill Cure alcoholism?

More research led me to the Sinclair Method Website – and that’s when I got very excited.

Here was a small online ‘self-help’ community of 800 former alcoholics that had managed to regain control using naltrexone, a drug originally developed for treating heroin abuse. Unlike every other alcohol treatment, this method does not promote abstinence. Naltrexone, when used as suggested by Dr. Sinclair, has a success rate of over 80%

If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), they will tell you, “A person must reject every drink that contains alcohol.” But AA has a success rate of less than 5% – so what’s the point in trying something that is most likely to end in a relapse?

The root cause of binge drinking

To explain why naltrexone works so effectively, we have to examine the root cause of binge drinking.

When you drink alcohol, a small gland in your brain releases endorphins. Similar in chemical structure to heroin, endorphins are an opiate-like compound and extremely addictive.

Your brain rewards you with endorphins every time you drink, and this has a powerful effect on your behaviour. So when you have 2 shots of tequila, your brain tells you: “Those tequilas make you feel amazing; damn the consequences do another two shots now.”

The massive endorphin rush helps to explain why certain individuals find it very hard to stop after four or five drinks. Research shows that certain types of people (based on genetics) release more endorphins in response to alcohol consumption – and are therefore more likely to get addicted to alcohol.

How naltrexone stops binge drinking

Naltrexone blocks the alcohol ‘euphoria’ you get from the release of endorphins It doesn’t actually prevent them being released, but it prevents them being absorbed. This destroys the reward cycle, so when you drink two tequilas, you don’t get the rush of endorphins. You get a bit of a buzz, you’ll still feel drunk and you’ll certainly have a headache next day, but because you are not getting the endorphin rush with each drink; you won’t feel that crazy drive to keep drinking to get the ‘reward’ of more endorphins.

Where can I get Naltrexone?

If you are a binge drinker, your greatest chance of success in life might be to see your doctor and ask for a naltrexone prescription. You can get it prescribed in the USA, but in the UK the drug is not licensed for treating alcohol under the NHS. This means you’ll either have to go private (cost £ 200); convince the doctor to prescribe some (like I did using the Times article); or buy the tablets from an online pharmacy. I am not suggesting you take action without seeking the correct medical advice – I just want to spread the word about the potential to help you stop binge drinking. The commonly accepted advice is to take naltrexone one hour before drinking for the rest of your life.

Why do I have to keep taking naltrexone all my life?

Imagine you’ve been controlling your drinking with the help of Naltrexone for 2 – 3 years. You think you are in control so you decide to stop taking the tablets. The next time you drink the rush of endorphins will feel so euphoric, that you will fall off the wagon in spectacular style. There are tales of 3-day ‘Charlie Sheen’ style binges for people who stop taking the medication. So the commonly accepted advice is to take Naltrexone 1 hour before you drink for the rest of your life.

Progress so far

The first time I tried naltrexone it was a great success. I was able to control my alcohol ‘addiction’ and stop after 4 drinks. This is the first time I can remember coming home for over 6 years after a big night out. I even put my wife to bed after brushing her teeth as she was so drunk! I’m at the beginning of my journey with naltrexone, but am absolutely convinced it will change my life forever.

Addictions Recovery Measurement & the Seven Dimensions Model

Introducing a Multidimensional Recovery Measurement Model for Addictions

The sun was thought to revolve around the earth for 1500 years. It wasn’t until a European astronomer named – Nicolaus Copernicus first formulated a modern heliocentric theory of the solar system that we began to change our thinking. This insight ultimately ushered in a major paradigm shift in astronomy and physics. Every model or viewpoint for recovery maintains the integrity and importance of its own position, often to the exclusion of other explanations. For example, there are recovery models and theories for: biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual viewpoints that can all explain human behavior. Unfortunately, these viewpoints may thus “blind” their adherents to alternative interpretations until some new insight is achieved that resolves the problems left unsolved. It is my hope that the 7 – Dimensions model for addictions recovery measurement is a step towards a “Copernicus” type paradigm shift.

Because human behavior is so complex, an attempt to understand the reasons individuals continue to use, and/ or abuse themselves with substances and/ or maladaptive behavioral addictions to the point of developing self-defeating behavior patterns and/ or other life-style dysfunctions or self-harm is enormously difficult to achieve. Many researchers therefore prefer to speak of risk factors that may contribute, but not be sufficient to cause addictions. They point to an eclectic bio-psychosocial approach that involves the multi-dimensional interactions of genetics, biochemistry, psychology, socio-cultural, and spiritual influences.
Risk Factors / Contributory Causes / Influences:

1. Genetics (family history) – is known to play a role in causing susceptibility through such biological avenues as metabolic rates and sensitivity to alcohol and/ or other drugs or addictive behaviors.

2. Biochemistry – the discovery of morphine-like substances called endorphins (runners high, etc.) and the so-called “pleasure pathway” – the mesocorticolimbic dopamine pathway (MCLP). This is the brain center or possible anatomic site underlying addictions at which alcohol and other drugs stimulate to produce euphoria – which then becomes the desired goal to attain (tolerance – loss of control – withdrawal).

3. Psychological Factors – developmental personality traits, vulnerability to stress, and the desire for tension and symptom reduction from various mental health problems and traumatic life experiences.

Our present healthcare system is set up to focus on acute care rather than chronic illnesses. It focuses on a Unitary Syndrome model in which the sole marker of treatment response or success is specific symptom-reduction. Healthcare consumers are increasingly advocating for a multidimensional model that takes into account an array of life-functioning domains that influence patient treatment progress. Evidenced-based meta-analysis studies also purport the prognostic power of life-functioning variables to predict outcome as well as their importance for treatment planning over a unitary model that has had little empirical support. Accurate diagnosis is also dependent on a thorough multidimensional assessment process along with the possible help of a multidisciplinary treatment team approach. Behavioral Medicine practitioners have come to realize that although a disorder may be primarily physical or primarily psychological in nature, it is always a disorder of the whole person – not just of the body or the mind.

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)

The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (2003), “Patient Placement Criteria for the Treatment of Substance-Related Disorders, 3rd Edition”, has set the standard in the field of addiction treatment for recognizing a multidimensional, bio-psychosocial assessment process. ASAM developed the following six dimensions specifically for the addictions field with the intent to provide clinicians with decision-making guidelines for patient placement of care:

1. Acute Intoxication and/ or Withdrawal Potential

2. Biomedical Conditions and Complications

3. Emotional/ Behavioral Conditions and Complications

4. Treatment Acceptance / Resistance

5. Relapse / Continued Use Potential

6. Recovery Environment

The ASAM dimensional delineations were developed to assess severity of illness (alcoholism/ drug addiction). The severity of illness level is then used to determine the match to type and intensity of treatment to help guide placement into one of four levels of care. The dimensional assessments would involve asking if the patient’s daily living activities were significantly impaired to interfere with or distract from abstinence, recovery, and/ or stability treatment goals and efforts.

Seven Dimensions Model

In 2004, the Addictions Recovery Measurement System (ARMS), was published – describing the following seven life-functioning therapeutic activity dimensions for progress outcome measurements. As can be seen below, the ASAM (Severity of Illness) dimensions do not compete with the seven “Life-functioning” dimensions, but rather add depth in describing the Abstinence/ Relapse – 7th Dimension. Each of the seven dimensions has individualized assessment criteria:

1. Social/ Cultural – Dimension

2. Medical/ Physical – Dimension

3. Mental/ Emotional – Dimension

4. Educational/ Occupational – Dimension

5. Spiritual/ Religious – Dimension

6. Legal/ Financial – Dimension

7. Abstinence/ Relapse – Dimension

a. Acute Intoxication and/ or Withdrawal Potential

b. Biomedical Conditions and Complications

c. Emotional/ Behavioral Conditions and Complications

d. Treatment Acceptance / Resistance

e. Relapse / Continued Use Potential

f. Recovery Environment

Note: These seven dimensions have been delineated in the book entitled, Poly-behavioral Addiction and the Addictions Recovery Measurement System (Slobodzien, 2005).

The 7 – Dimension recovery model is not based upon an expanded version of the ASAM dimensions. As noted above, it was initially designed to measure patient progress by assessing therapeutic life-functioning activities. Researched may prove it to be effective as a generalized model for recovery, from all pathological diseases, disorders, and disabilities. It’s multidimensional assessment/ treatment process includes the internal interconnection of multiple dimensions from biomedical to spiritual – taking into account the effects of feedback and the existence of each dimension mutually influencing each other simultaneously. Because of the complexity of human nature, treatment progress needs to be initially tailored and guided by an individualized treatment plan based on a comprehensive bio-psychosocial assessment that identifies specific problems, goals, objectives, methods, and timetables for achieving the goals and objectives of treatment.

Life-style addictions may affect many domains of an individual’s functioning and frequently require multi-modal treatment. Goals of treatment include reduction in the use and effects of substances or achievement of abstinence, reduction in the frequency and severity of relapse, and improvement in psychological and social functioning. Real progress requires time, commitment, and discipline in thinking about it, planning for it, working the plan, and monitoring the successes made to prevent relapse. It also requires appropriate interventions and motivating strategies for each progress area of an individual’s life.

7 – Dimensions is a nonlinear, dynamical, non-hierarchical model that focuses on interactions between multiple risk factors and situational determinants similar to catastrophe and chaos theories in predicting and explaining addictive behaviors and relapse. Multiple influences trigger and operate within high-risk situations and influence the global multidimensional functioning of an individual. The process of relapse incorporates the interaction between background factors (e.g., family history, social support, years of possible dependence, and co morbid psychopathology), physiological states (e.g., physical withdrawal), cognitive processes (e.g., self-efficacy, cravings, motivation, the abstinence violation effect, outcome expectancies), and coping skills (Brownell et al., 1986; Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). To put it simply, small changes in an individual’s behavior can result in large qualitative changes at the global level and patterns at the global level of a system emerge solely from numerous little interactions. The clinical utility of the 7 – Dimensions recovery model is in its ability to assist health care providers to quickly gather detailed information about an individual’s personality, background, substance use history, affective state, self-efficacy, and coping skills for prognosis, diagnosis, treatment planning, and outcome measures.

The 7 – Dimensions hypothesis is that there is a multidimensional synergistically negative resistance that individual’s develop to any one form of treatment to a single dimension of their lives, because the effects of an individual’s addiction have dynamically interacted multi-dimensionally. Having the primary focus on one dimension is insufficient. Traditionally, addiction treatment programs have failed to accommodate for the multidimensional synergistically negative effects of an individual having multiple addictions, (e.g. nicotine, alcohol, and obesity, etc.). Behavioral addictions interact negatively with each other and with strategies to improve overall functioning. They tend to encourage the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, help increase violence, decrease functional capacity, and promote social isolation. Most treatment theories today involve assessing other dimensions to identify dual diagnosis or co-morbidity diagnoses, or to assess contributing factors that may play a role in the individual’s primary addiction. The 7 Dimensions’ theory is that a multidimensional treatment plan must be devised addressing the possible multiple addictions identified for each one of an individual’s life dimensions in addition to developing specific goals and objectives for each dimension.

The 7 – Dimensions’ theory promotes a synergistically positive effect that can ignite and set free the human spirit when an individual’s life functioning dimensions are elevated in a homeostatic system. The reciprocity between spirituality and multidimensional life functioning progress, establish the deepest intrinsic self-image and behavioral changes. The underlying 7 – Dimensions theory purports that the combination of an individuals’ elevated and balanced multiple life-functioning dimensions can produce a synergistically tenacious, resilient, and spiritually positive individual homeostasis. Just as the combination of alcohol and drugs (for example valium) when taken together produce a synergistic effect (potency effects are not added together, but multiplied), and can develop into an addiction or unbalanced life-style, positive treatment effectiveness and successful outcomes are the result of a synergistic relationship with “The Higher Power.”

The 7 – Dimensions model acknowledges that family genetics, and bio-psychosocial, historical, and developmental conditioning factors are difficult and sometimes impossible to be changed within individuals. The standardized performance-based Addictions Recovery Measurement System philosophy incorporates a bio-psychosocial disease model that focuses on a cognitive behavioral perspective in attempting to alter maladaptive thinking and improve a person’s abilities and behaviors to solve problems and plan for sustained recovery. Many healthcare consumers of addiction recovery services have a genetic pre-dispositional history for addiction. They have suffered and continue to suffer from past traumatic life experiences (e.g. physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, etc.) and often present with psychosocial stressors (e.g. occupational stress, family/ marital problems, etc.) leaving them with intense and confusing feelings (e.g. anger, anxiety, bitterness, fear, guilt, grief, loneliness, depression, and inferiority, etc.) that reinforce their already low self-esteem. The complex interaction of these factors can leave the individual with much deeper mental health problems involving self-hatred, self-punishment, self-denial, low self-control, low self-respect, and a severe low self-esteem condition, with an overall (sometimes hidden) negative self-identity.

The 7 – Dimensions model combines a multidimensional force field analysis of an individual’s unique problems to identify positive strength prognostic factors, with behavioral contracting, and a token-“like”- economy point system to accomplish this task. Force field analysis is a process whereby an individual’s behavior is assessed to determine which are the key forces driving the addictive behaviors and which are the key forces restraining the addictive behaviors. A plan is implemented to identify the positive strength restraining factors to somehow manipulate those forces in order to increase the likelihood of moving an individual’s behavior in a pro-social recovery direction. Kurt Lewin (1947) who originally developed the Force Field Theory argued that an issue is held in balance by the interaction of two opposing sets of forces – those seeking to promote change (driving forces) and those attempting to maintain the status quo (restraining forces). Any given social event occurs at a given frequency in a given social context, and the frequency of the event is dependent upon forces acting to increase the event as well as forces acting to decrease the event. At any given point in time, there is a “semi-stable equilibrium” whereby the frequency of the social event will remain the same so long as there is neither change in the number or strength of the forces acting to increase the social event nor any change in the forces acting to decrease the event. Equilibrium is altered in either direction by increasing the frequency or intensity of the driving or the restraining forces and thereby creating a corresponding increase or decrease in the rate of an individual’s “addictive” behaviors.

The long-term goal is the health-consumer’s highest optimal functioning, not merely the absence of pathology or symptom reduction. The short-term goal is to change the health care system to accommodate and assimilate to a multidimensional health care perspective. The 7 – Dimensions model addresses the low self-esteem – “addiction – common denominator” by helping individuals establish values, set and accomplish goals, and monitor successful performance.

Additionally, when we consider that addictions involve unbalanced life-styles operating within semi-stable equilibrium force fields, the 7 – Dimensions philosophy promotes that there is a supernatural-like spiritually synergistic effect that occurs when an individuals’ multiple life functioning dimensions are elevated in a homeostatic human system. This bilateral spiritual connectedness reduces chaos and increases resilience to bring an individual harmony, wellness, and productivity. The ARMS takes an objective perspective on spirituality by assessing an individual’s positive and/ or negative spiritual/ religious dimension with the Religious Attitudes Inventory (e.g., the RAI is capable of identifying extremely unhealthy cult-like spirituality with the rigid, and intolerant religious and militant orthodoxy, practiced by some terrorists, etc.). RAI test results are also integrated into the prognostication scoring system.

The 7 – Dimensions model also promotes Twelve Step Recovery Groups such as Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous along with spiritual and religious recovery activities as a necessary means to maintain outcome effectiveness. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s most recent research findings regard such active involvement with AA/ NA as the crucial factor responsible for sustained recovery

Conclusion

The 7 – Dimensions Model is not claiming to be the panacea for the ills of addictions treatment progress and outcomes, but it is a step in the right direction for getting clinicians to change the way they practice, by changing treatment facility systems to incorporate evidence-based research findings on effective interventions. The challenge for those interested in conducting outcome evaluations to improve their quality of care is to incorporate a system that will standardize their assessment procedures, treatment programs, and clinical treatment practices. By diligently following a standardized system to obtain base-line outcome statistics of their treatment program effectiveness despite the outcome, they will be able to assess the effectiveness of subsequent treatment interventions.

Has Fruit Addiction Simply Replaced Sugar Addiction? (They’re Not That Different!)

It was, as the saying goes, déjà vu all over again.

There we were, toward the end of the day at a conference that featured lectures on health problems from eating gluten, health problems from free glutamate, and similar topics. The audience accepted the information enthusiastically – along with the slides that showed extremely long lists of foods that contain the offending substances. In other words, long lists of food to avoid.

Finally, late in the afternoon, I gave my presentation on sugar as a limiting factor in health. The previous speaker had run well over his limit, cutting my allotted time down to 32 minutes. It would be tight but still do-able; this was not a “tough room.” I began to go through my slides and deliver my teaching points.

A man in the audience asked if I was talking about “added sugar” or was including natural products like fruit. I answered that sugar did include fruit – and that fructose, the sugar in fruit, can cause a variety of health problems.

In fact, all of the negative health consequences of sucrose, a disaccharide that’s half fructose and half glucose, are attributed to the fructose in it, not the glucose. Even though you can find disagreements in science journals on virtually everything, no disagreement on this topic exists in the science lit. Researchers all seem to agree that fructose makes sucrose the junk that it is. (These points have been covered in my previous article, “Fructose: The Sugar No One Thinks Is Sugar”.)

Well, the man became angry and even left before the end of my short presentation. Believe me, I’d seen reactions like that before. Sugar is a topic I’ve presented on many times over the years (since 1990, in fact, when everyone was still obsessing about fats). Audience reactions to sugar information have often been strong, and that’s interesting because those were presentations, not personal consultations.

In a presentation, I have no idea what the audience members eat, so nothing can be taken personally — or at least shouldn’t be. But addiction isn’t rational or logical. One question in a short test for alcoholism is, “Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?” The key word in the question is “annoyed”. Mess with someone’s addiction, and they get angry.

Maybe we should start asking fruit addicts if people have ever annoyed them by telling them fruit is sugar.

It has seemed lately that people don’t care about sugar addiction, including their own. Fairly recently, an obese woman told me that she knew she was addicted to sugar but was “okay with it.” That reminded me of the final criterion for substance dependence in the DSM-IV – which has been moved into first place in the DSM-V criteria for substance abuse disorder: Continued use despite adverse consequences.

The past decade or more has shown a nutrition awareness shift that actually harkens back to the 1970s. In the 1970s, science journals were filled with articles on the negative impact of sugar on health. Videos were available, and at least one popular book was written on the subject (Sugar Blues).

In the wake of this, the sugar industry – a powerful lobby in Washington – got busy, and, starting about 1983, three things happened.

1. Fat became the new dietary demon, and everyone started eating low-fat this and nonfat that.
2. Sugar consumption between 1984 and 1999 increased by 25-45 pounds per person per year. (25-45 lbs represents the increase, not total consumption.)
3. Obesity in the U.S. became an epidemic.

No doubt the sugar industry was, and is, quite happy with those results.

Now we’re back to a more realistic evaluation of food. Fats are recognized as not being as bad as we used to think – and we know some of them are supremely healthful. Everyone knows that sucrose is junk. Researchers, at least, know that fructose is what makes sucrose junk.

But if all we’ve done over the past 15 years is switch our addiction to fruit, I’m not sure we’ve made any progress. Especially when people get just as angry when I advise them not to eat too much fruit as they used to get when I advised them not to eat sugar.

Do you have the healthy life you want? Have you tried to improve your health or lose weight, only to find yourself stuck? Sugar addiction and other food addictions can sabotage health goals to lose weight, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and more.