Gary's Story: Part Three - A Door to the Silence Within
NOTE: This is Gary's candid, personal account of his experience with The Sinclair Method.
This three-part series is used with permission.
Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
- Lyrics from “Enjoy the Silence” (Written by Martin Gore and performed by Depeche Mode)
Here, at last, is the "here and now” summary bit that I promised in Part Two. Thanks for bearing with me (brevity isn’t my strong suit)
Perhaps one of the most unexpected benefits of this treatment is that in the absence of a noisy addiction screaming within my brain, my mind is so much clearer these days... no more persistent demands for alcohol at whatever insane hour of the day and no more obsessing about the bloody stuff.
I can concentrate so much better now. It’s truly liberating just to be so much clearer – “enjoy the silence” indeed!
But that’s not the biggest surprise that was in store for me. Here’s a confession: although I knew that the process of pharmacological extinction would put my cravings into a coma, a strong part of me still suspected that – if push came to shove – all it would take for me to go back onto one of the most nuclear of benders (and for the addiction to awaken from the depths like some sort of monstrous, vengeful kraken) would be for sufficient stress to cause it to rear its ugly head.
But do you know what? In the space of year, despite having some horrible worries on my plate, despite having occasional tantrums and despite enduring a festive winter period that was marked by the misery of clinical depression, bereavement and the legacy of unresolved family feuds..... yes, despite all of that... the beast never has never stirred from its slumber. The thought of "getting drunk to escape” has never even entered my mind.
What could this mean? How can I begin to explain this sudden, inexplicably increased stress threshold? Have I suddenly become some sort of zen master? Hmm... perhaps something’s happened to my Midichlorian count? (Where’s Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda when you need them?!??)
However, over the course of my going through this whole process, I’ve come to realise something very important about my previous addiction: I didn’t drink for the reasons that I thought I did.
Whilst it’s true that I did obsess about alcohol and that – at the beginning, anyway – I did get some pleasure from it and it did on occasion provide a convenient escape from insomnia and worry, the fact of the matter is that I really drank like I did because I was addicted to the damn stuff... because I was hostage to a craving... to the Alcohol Deprivation Effect... not because I couldn’t handle the hardships that come with everyday reality... and certainly NOT because I was a selfish person who was so in love with the stuff that I simply “chose” the lifestyle that I did.
This was an important, liberating realisation.
I was neither a bad person nor weak-willed. I was simply someone had suffered from an overpowering addiction to alcohol that had compromised my ability to think rationally when it came to this particular substance. Once pharmacological extinction took effect and I found that the beer advertisements that used to play on a constant loop in my head ended with it... then I realised that the “monogamous relationship” that I’d been in with alcohol hadn’t been a love affair at all.
Simply put: this proved that I’d been deluding myself; alcohol wasn’t my “demanding mistress”... that was the wrong power dynamic entirely... no, alcohol had been my captor and I had been its hostage.
And... oh boy.... now that The Sinclair Method had broken those chains once and for all, I could finally see myself for the deluded Stockholm Syndrome sufferer I’d really been for many years... pathetically trying to defend the “good attributes” of my jailor, when the truth is that I’d ceased getting any real “pleasure” from this partnership a long time ago.
Bottom line: I really drank to relieve the craving... that’s what I was really chasing. Relief from a maddening compulsion. Pure A.D.E. - not pleasure.
And certainly, as I’ve since come to realise, not something that can be conflated with the lizard-brain addiction model of something like Rational Recovery which posits the theory that addiction is nothing more than rampant hedonism caused, quite simply, by a person irresponsibly submitting to their base brain desires (though that primitive region of the brain no doubt plays a strong part, the fact of that matter is that when a person becomes addicted to alcohol the neural pathways that get strengthened by endorphin reinforcement – and that TSM then seeks to correct - are amassed throughout the entire brain... not just one specific area)
So where does this leave me at right now?
In a good place, I’d say. Sure, my life isn’t perfect. I have my ups and downs like anyone else. I still have to watch my blood pressure and I still have to take medication for my bipolar disorder. And sure, sometimes people can find me difficult to be around, but the fact is that life is so much easier now that I don’t have the additional impediment of addiction to contend with. It feels more like a “level playing field” now and... please excuse me for binging on metaphors all of a sudden... it no longer feels like the dice are loaded against me when they’re thrown.
But then again, The Sinclair Method doesn’t claim to be a panacea. It doesn’t claim to do this or do that outside of “what it says on the tin”. And it’s not perfect. For a minority of people this treatment doesn’t work at all and, like just about any drug on the market, for a minority of people it can manifest unpleasant side-effects.
But such side-effects are frequently overstated by this treatment’s most vocal and usually most misinformed critics (particularly naltrexone’s oft-cited potential for hepatic toxicity) and with an increasing body of clinical evidence to back up the efficacy of this treatment... and with a success rate of around 80% (80%!!!) it really is the best treatment for alcohol addiction currently out there.
Make no mistake, in a just society this should be the first recourse for anyone suffering from the bane of alcohol addiction... not the last (as it so sadly was for this writer).
And that’s the real scandal.