Stinking Thinking and Freshening Up Your Thoughts

 They say, “What you think about, you bring about.” So many struggle day to day in various areas of their lives. They don’t have to, but they “think” they do, so they continue to struggle. You’ve been there, just like many others: you’ve tried and tried to take control of your drinking and you find yourself in a familiar scenario you’ve been in all too many times. You’re at the bottom of a bottle and you can’t help but think that you are simply destined to fail. You believe that because you’ve failed this many times, you’re a failure and you should simply give up trying as you’re just going to fail again. This thought process is known as Stinking Thinking.

Stinking thinking can refer to any type of negativity, but generally it goes beyond a sporadic negative thought. Everybody has “off” days and feel poorly now and again. However,  stinking thinking can go beyond that. Negative thinking becomes harmful, crippling thoughts of failure or self loathing that crush the human spirit. You feel trapped in a seemingly endless cycle. This is because thoughts are seeds you choose to plant and nurture. Constant negativity will grow a sour harvest that never changes.

People who have reverted back to old patterns of thinking are also victims of stinking thinking. It is absolutely possible to think your way out of recovery. The idea that you’re never going to be able to control your drinking, so you should give up and drink anyway is a classic example of stinking thinking.

There are several other examples of stinking thinking. Little habits developed over time that have worked their way into your thoughts and change your perspective on how you see and handle life. However, there are also ways to “freshen up” your thoughts, change how you think about things, and how you handle difficult scenarios that would typically be thought of negatively.

“All or nothing thinking”, believing things are either all good or all bad. It’s easy to over generalize. Constantly saying, “always” or “never” when describing situations. Remember life is not painted black and white. Much of life takes place in grey areas. Most things are not all good or all bad - but somewhere in between. When you’re working on moderating your drinking you may slip up, but you don’t always slip up.

“Mental filtering”, by only seeing the negative and never the positive in any situation. Challenge yourself to be optimistic and see the positive side of a situation. Life doesn’t happen to you, it just happens. How you see something makes all the difference.

“Labeling”, putting negative labels on yourself, others, or things in your life. When you talk down about yourself, calling yourself a loser or a failure, you are planting those seeds. You will feel like a loser and a failure. Misery is optional, choose to compliment yourself. Remind yourself that you are bright, strong, and important.

“Emotional Reasoning” thinking feelings are facts or reality. Emotions are not facts. Just because you feel a certain way, does not make it true. Notice when emotions are getting the best of your thoughts and check out the facts first.

Practice new ways of thinking to help you stay positive and keep the stinking thinking at a minimum. Remember that the past is the past and no one can change it. The future is not set in stone and no one can be certain about what it will hold.. Don’t dwell in the past, and don’t stress about the future. Everybody makes mistakes, and anyone can bounce back from them. The future offers limitless potential. When you’re feeling overwhelmed about the past or future, remember where you are in the moment.

Michael Yasinski MD

The History of The Sinclair Method

Sinclair Method: The History of How We Modernized Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol addiction in America has a long history as a huge burden on thousands of people. The Sinclair Method was originally developed by Dr. David Sinclair in America in the 1960’s.  It established “alcohol deprivation effect.” Dr. Sinclair then moved to Helsinki, Finland to continue research. Using specially bred rats predisposed to becoming alcoholic. He concluded that alcoholism is a learned behavior. When a response or emotion has been “reinforced” with alcohol over time, it is a Learned Behavior. Some people (and rats) have genetic traits that lead them to feel more “reinforcement” from consuming alcohol. Eventually these feelings of reinforcement cause uncontrollable cravings.

The Modern Cure for Alcohol Treatment: Dr. Sinclair Started it All

Dr. Sinclair was heavily influenced by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He studied how Pavlov used bells to condition dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. This was done by rewarding the dogs with food after the bell sounded. Once conditioned, the dogs rewarded with food after the bell sounded, would salivate after just hearing the bell. However, the salivating tapered off when the food stopped. This was referred to as “extinction.” Sinclair believed the the learned behavior of addiction could be removed by way of extinction, too.
Sinclair hypothesized that alcohol produced reinforcement in the addiction center of the brain in a way that was similar to opiates. His research indicated that alcohol produced reinforcement by releasing endorphins that bind with opioid receptors.

Sinclair’s solution to stopping the reinforcement cycle was to block the receptors every time alcohol is used. He began testing opioid antagonists, Naltrexone & Nalmefene, on rats, and then started clinical trials.  Extinction of the impulse to drink takes place over time and has over an 80% success rate for people who use the method properly. It is imperative that those who are on their way to moderating their alcohol usage continue to take their medicine, even if it’s thought that it is not needed anymore. Dr. Sinclair ultimately concluded that in order for this method to work, you need to drink yourself sober, the perfect solution for people who have difficulty staying away from alcohol yet need to change their drinking patterns.

Sinclair Method Success : 5 Steps to Curing Your Drinking

Dr. Sinclair composed five steps to guide you through the de-addiction process and success with The Sinclair Method. First, you must understand and think about addiction in an entirely new way. You must stop thinking of addiction as an incurable, unfixable disease and begin thinking of it as a behavior that can be controlled and moderated like any other behavior. Then, check the severity of your problem with addiction and find out how you can get help. The Moderation Institute in Scottsdale is a premier office offering The Sinclair Method ready to be customized just for you. You won’t need to take any time off work and it is extremely affordable. Work with your doctor to obtain a prescription for naltrexone or Nalmefene. After three to four months - in some cases six months - you will be cured.

Michael Yasinski MD

You May be an Alcoholic. Answer These Five Questions to Find Out

What if you were an alcoholic and didn't even know it? Would your life change?

You may be surprised to know the majority of people who drink alcohol in general ask themselves at some point if they are an alcoholic or not. What is too much? The answer seems to change every couple of years, according to the FDA and a variety of entities who study the effects of alcohol. Red wine is good for the heart, but how much is good for the heart? It is statements like this that has led to mass confusion.

There is a healthy amount of fear that keeps people from over-doing it in terms of drinking, but when it becomes a question, people ask themselves on a regular basis it becomes disruptive to their daily lives. Here is an easy way to know if you are indeed considered an "alcoholic."

1.  Do you leave work and get excited to get home and have a drink?

2.  Do you use alcohol as your main coping tool for dealing with stress (be honest!)?

3.  Do you feel like alcohol is hindering your ability to perform at your best at work (again, be honest with yourself)?

4.  Have you ever had a health problem related to drinking?

5.  Has anyone every commented that you drink too much?

If you answered "yes" to any one of these questions, you would be considered an alcoholic. You may be surprised to learn that there is no actual diagnoses of alcoholic in today's modern psychiatric diagnostic criteria, which we use to make our diagnosis. Instead, we have a spectrum of alcohol use disorders that range from mild to severe. The bottom line is, if you fall anywhere in the range of a mild, moderate or severe alcohol use disorder, you have let alcohol impact your life in a negative fashion.

In reality, it is all a compromise. For example, if you drink a bottle of wine each night and you feel sluggish and tired the next day but are able to complete your work, does that mean you have a problem? The symptom of fatigue and sluggishness is not in and of itself necessarily a problem, but instead it is relative to your own life. For some people, it is worth the trade-off to feel crummy the next day in order to enjoy a bottle of wine each night. Other people may feel that the lack of energy and motivation that costs them the ability to perform at their peak performance, and thus the tradeoff is indeed not worth it.

If you answered "yes" to any of those above questions, stop buying into the belief that you have to have certain symptoms or problems to be considered an alcoholic. You don't have to have problems like having a DUI, needing a drink when you wake up in the morning, drinking every day of the week, blacking out when you drink, drinking hard alcohol, or any other more severe outcome from using alcohol to be considered an alcoholic.

The bottom line is this: I tell my patients who ask me whether or not they are an alcoholic the following, is alcohol causing you any negative consequences in life whatsoever? If the answer is "yes," then you have a problem with alcohol. I steer clear of getting into labeling people alcoholics--or any other labels in general--since I have found people let the shame of the diagnosis overwhelm them to the point they become paralyzed from taking action to fix the problem.

Shame causes people to feel so extremely depressed. People start being extremely hard on themselves, which leads to a domino effect of negativity, hopelessness and ultimately an inability to change. The traditional method to alcohol treatment lumps everyone into the same pile. The reality is, there is not a single diagnoses that captures each and everyone's individual issues.

The Moderation Institute is built upon the foundation I have established over the past three years in terms of treating every single person as a unique individual with their own one-of-a-kind unique struggle. There is NO SHAME, NO GUILT and NO HOPELESSNESS when people come through our program.

People are empowered, hopeful and excited to regain control over their decisions when it comes to using alcohol. I want to challenge everyone to get rid of the thought and label of being an alcoholic and simply recognize that perhaps you may be happier and healthier if you modify your alcohol use to some degree. 

That is it! No 12-step program needed, no confessions needed, no higher power needed. If you want to pursue any of those however, I will get you the resources to utilize a great 12-step group and support system. The point is, everything is customized to you.

In conclusion, you don't have to define yourself as an alcoholic. Could your life be better if you had more control over your drinking?  IF the answer is "yes," then call us to regain the control you are looking for.

Call  (480)-269-5945 to take back control.

Michael Yasinski, MD

If the Moderation Method is so Successful, Why Haven't I Heard of it?

The Moderation Who? The Sinclair Method What?

So here is the deal:

As facetious as the title sounds, the reality remains that the majority of people who hear about our program are skeptical. Skepticism is often founded on the question, "why haven't I heard of this if it is so amazing?" This reaction is completely understandable and warranted since both the The Moderation Method and The Sinclair Method are almost completely foreign to the United States. The Moderation Method uses The Sinclair Method as the foundation of the treatment method. The Moderation Method integrates several other therapeutic components that enhance the efficacy of the program. These elements were practiced and honed over the past three years as I have utilized the combination method and achieved the 70-80% success rate Europe has been achieving for more than a decade.

Why such a successful method has never migrated from Europe to the United States is still somewhat of a mystery, but here is my personal experience over the past three years. I implemented The Sinclair Method, and have had the task of educating the population about this new method of treatment, with the goal of re-shaping the approach to alcohol addiction treatment in the United States. I have created The Moderation Method, a.k.a Alcohol Treatment 2.0.

With its 70-80% success rate, The Sinclair Method absolutely towers over traditional treatment in terms of being successful at meeting one's goal and sustaining one's goal. Frankly, traditional treatment offers a disappointing relapse rate of 60-70%, which I believed was not acceptable in this modern day of medical care. Three years ago, I integrated The Sinclair Method into my approach to alcohol treatment, and started the challenge of educating people about this new method.

So why is it unknown to most people in the U.S.? I have come to realize there are three main factors that, sadly, have prevented this model from helping so many people here in the United States. First, The Sinclair Method was literally a patented method until its patent expired only two years ago. The Sinclair Method takes a medication that is commonly used, but the method uniquely utilizes the medicine in a novel way that is different from the typical use of Naltrexone. I learned that the utilization of a medication in a new and novel way that allows one to obtain a process patent, which essentially patents the method in which the medicine is used for a specific situation. In this case, it was using Naltrexone one hour before drinking alcohol with the goal of training the brain to stop desiring alcohol over time. This patent would have made it difficult for any psychiatrist to implement the program in the United States without fear of a lawsuit. Thankfully, the patent has expired!

The second reason The Sinclair Method has not been used in the United States is the reality that we, as a society, have believed in the 12-step approach to treatment and/or the traditional necessity for someone who is struggling with alcohol to quit drinking completely, never drink again and overhaul their entire life in order to be successful. There is no science supporting these modalities, and this typical approach to addiction is analogous to using chemotherapy from 30 years ago to treat modern day cancer! In short, we have ignored the science behind addiction and have not accepted a method of treatment that is founded on evidence, data and experience being successful at a rate of 70-80%.

The third reason is, quite simply, human beings resist change. Usually, I can understand this resistance, as it is consistent with how the human mind operates. In this case, however, the available methods of treatment offer an extremely poor success rate, and thus, resisting change in this one scenario has never made sense to me. Humans are stubborn! What can I say?

My mission with the advent of The Moderation Institute is to bring this evidenced-based, successful approach to alcohol treatment to as many people as possible, in order to really make a dent in problematic drinking that continues to plague society. Keep in mind, the method is not new to me as I have been practicing and honing the method over the past three years, with the same 70-80% success rate. Since I am one physician, patent issues never were a problem but I was limited in terms of how big of a program I could start, due to the patent.

Finally, the culmination of three years of practicing The Sinclair Method and combining the method with specific methods of therapy has led to the launch of The Moderation Institute. Keep in mind, in addition to having a poor success rate, traditional treatment is opposed by 80% of those actually needing help with their drinking. It is too disruptive to their lives, not successful enough, too expensive and does not offer the option to moderate their drinking or quit drinking completely. The Moderation Method incorporates all of these factors to make treatment more desirable to that 80% of people.

Alcohol Treatment 2.0:  successful, proven and convenient.  Finally, the U.S is catching on.

Please read through our website, contact us or request a visit with me to learn more about how the program works. I have been dedicated and am now even more dedicated to spread the word about an option that finally works.

Michael Yasinski, MD

A Practical Guide to Moderating Your Drinking-Tips You Can Start Now!

How to Moderate Your Drinking:  Effective and Practical Steps You Can Start Today

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Drinking

This one sounds basic but effective strategies are very often basic! Honestly, many of the most effective tools I teach patients are the easiest and most obvious ones. For the first strategy, start with a piece of paper and draw a simple pros and cons table. Under pros, write how alcohol has improved your life over the past three, six and twelve months. Under the cons, put down how alcohol has caused any degree of  negativity in your life over the past three, six and twelve months. For both good and bad, document even the smallest positive or negative changes you can think of. You want to start seeing A LOT of data in front of you. Documenting data on paper forces you to look and think about a problem. You cannot minimize a problem when you objectively "measure" the effect it has on your life. You can't escape the data!

With the list you have created, add to the list each day for 14 days the same positives and negatives you have been doing. Since you wrote them down, your brain is subconsciously and consciously recognizing even more ways alcohol is impacting your life. I have yet to see someone at the end of this exercise chalk up more positives than negatives! 

Lesson:  Put information in front of your eyes, where you can see the effects. This prevents your brain from tricking you into minimizing the negative aspects of drinking.

Set Limits To Your Drinking

Trying to quit “cold turkey” usually doesn’t work, and if it does, the result is a temporary change. Instead of refusing or forcing yourself not to drink at all, you should begin by setting limits. This helps you regain control bit by bit. You can start by assessing how much you drink per day. Again, documenting the data force-feeds the reality of exactly what you are consuming. I have yet to see someone over-estimate the amount they are actually drinking! Keep a text message to yourself, or if you have a really helpful friend, you can document your daily consumption and text it them to add a layer of accountability. At the end of each week, write down how much you drank each day that week.

Tip:  Get out a measuring device and literally measure the ounces of alcohol you are pouring into each drink at home. One drink is either 1-1.5 oz. of hard alcohol, 4-6 oz. of wine, or one regular size and strength beer. Guys, don't trick yourselves by counting those IPAs as only one drink as 8 percent alcohol is about twice a regular beer! You will be pleasantly surprised at how this simple logging of data can generate a potent accountability force that will assist you in cutting back.

Once you get a week's worth of data, you can start the gradual decrease in the amount you drink. Everyone gets overly ambitious and starts to cut down too quickly and they ultimately set themselves up for failure. Slow and steady in this case proves to be the most successful method. Try just cutting out half of one drink per day, and do that for a week. Then, proceed to cut down by another half or a full drink and do that for two weeks. Continue decreasing at this slow pace until you meet the goal of your choice.

Lesson: documenting data will hold you accountable. This accountability will generate motivation to change, and the change itself will generate the momentum necessary to sustain the change.  Slow and steady wins the race when cutting down.

Avoid Bad Influences and Triggers

Here is another easy one that makes you feel silly because it should be obvious yet so many of us don't recognize this issue. We are all human, and everyone tends to forget the basics. In order to be successful, you will have to avoid bad influences. This means you have to distance yourself from your drinking buddies who tend to over-indulge. Hopefully, you have a few good friends who are sober, or drink moderately and don't completely overdo it, or you hang out with the friends who overdo it, but just not in a setting where alcohol is involved! Make an effort to start hanging out with other people. It’s a great opportunity to try and reconnect with people you perhaps haven't seen in a while, or a chance to make amends and apologize to friends you may have pushed away due to your drinking. 

Lesson: "Out with the old and in with the new!" Or at least, be mindful of known triggers and steer clear of bad influences while you are trying to cut back or quit.

Form New Positive Habits

You need a new routine! Clearly, if you are someone who typically comes home after work and grabs a beer to relax while you watch ESPN or Home and Garden TV, you will not be coming home directly after work for awhile! If you do, you better be nowhere near the TV and preferably, you will choose an alternative on the active side since it is much healthier for you! 

In order to stop drinking, you need to break your old habits and replace them with healthier alternative. Work on implementing healthier habits as you progress forward. If it is too difficult in the beginning, I understand. Not everyone loves to workout or be active. Keep pushing yourself to implement just one day a week. Build on the frequency from there.

Tip: As awful as it may seem at first, the extra time you now have can be used to get closer to your family since especially in today's age, finding family time is difficult. Now, you can make it a priority for both you and your family. I can tell you, I have seen people succeed at a far greater rate when they used their extra time to spend doing something with their family. It is always something I recommend.

Lesson: Mix up your routine and strive for healthier habits, especially involving more time with the family.

Tell Others About What You’re Doing

If you let other people know you’re trying to stop drinking, you’ll feel more inclined to keep your word. A support system is vital to a successful alcohol recovery. You can tell your most trusted friends and family or even other drinking buddies who you know want to quit themselves.  Accountability is a powerful tool especially in the beginning of implementing a change.

Lesson:  Accountability is key

Do not Change Your Entire Life and Don't Beat Yourself Up

Change is difficult. Move slowly, find ways to ride the waves of momentum and be driven by motivation that you stumble upon. Take it slow and steady! You will be pleasantly surprised at what you are capable of doing!

Much of this material covered is a crucial part of The Moderation Method. IF you ultimately can't quite make the necessary changes, it would be a great next step to come and be a part of the Moderation Institute's successful alumni!

Michael Yasinski, MD