The Moderation Method: How It Works

The Moderation Institute's three-stage method is a proven alternative to traditional alcohol rehab.    

Stage 1 

Our first stage of alcohol treatment involves re-programming the brain's reward system. It is this part of the brain that is responsible for one's ongoing desire for alcohol. This alternative to traditional rehab has long been utilized in Europe and is finally available in the U.S. The method is called "The Sinclair Method" and has never been offered in any traditional alcohol rehab programsThe method by which it works is called pharmacological extinction. Specifically, the process uses the medicine Naltrexone one hour prior to drinking. This process uses the nervous system’s own mechanism, called “extinction," for gradually removing the interest in alcohol and the behaviors involved in alcohol drinking.

The Sinclair Method addresses the key flaw with traditional alcohol treatment--which is contrary to earlier beliefs--forced alcohol abstinence does not stop alcohol craving. Instead, stopping a desired behavior increases the drive to desire alcohol. The effect of desiring more alcohol when forcing yourself to stop is called the "Deprivation Effect." Simply, if you deprive one of something, the brain is activated, resulting in a drastic increase in its desire. This is especially true in regards to addiction. The Sinclair Method works instead to re-program that part of the brain over time to not desire alcohol. This is why The Sinclair Method of alcohol rehab is sustainable and so successful long-term compared to any other traditional treatment options.

Many individuals, for genetic reasons and learned behavior reasons, get so much reinforcement each time they drink, and have so many opportunities to drink and get this potent reinforcement, that the behavior becomes too strong. They cannot always control their drinking and are not able to “just say ‘no’.” The Sinclair Method and the process of pharmacological extinction addresses this key component of helping people regain the control to truly choose the amount of alcohol they logically wish to consume. This key process is not part of regular alcohol rehab and this process is the foundation of The Moderation Method.

How does The Sinclair Method and pharmacological extinction work on a neurological level? Naltrexone blocks the effects of endorphins which are our natural pleasure chemicals in the brain. Endorphins are produced when stimuli such as drinking alcohol occurs and thus causes the brain to enjoy alcohol. When Naltrexone is taken an hour before drinking alcohol, the subsequent drinking of alcohol still induces several pleasurable effects but does not stimulate the pleasure center of the brain nearly as potently. This, therefore, allows one to feel the effects of alcohol but to naturally desire less and less alcohol with each pairing of Naltrexone with the alcohol. This is the mechanism by which the pharmacological extinction mechanism operates, which in turn progressively, but permanently removes the neural circuitry drive for undesirable drinking patterns. (Return to homepage)

Stage 2

The second stage of our new Alcohol Rehab 2.0 incorporates targeted therapy techniques to synergistically work alongside The Sinclair Method of pharmacological extinction. While The Sinclair Method is a potent tool that lead to great success on its own, Dr. Yasinski found he achieved greater success by incorporating several components along with The Sinclair Method. The first component involves targeting the triggers that tend to drive the undesirable drinking pattern. Triggers can be both conscious and subconscious. A specialized approach targets the primary trigger that is associated with drinking, creates an understanding of the trigger and ultimately eliminates that trigger from existence. Once eliminated, the primary psychological drive involved in undesirable drinking is addressed.

Some examples of triggers involve the following: low self-esteem, insecurity, social anxiety, lack of other healthy coping tools, stress, insomnia, relationship issues and a multitude of others. Although the majority of these triggers stem from prior life events, the alchemy method approaches change with an approach that is intensive enough to achieve the desired outcome but without needing to go back and do deep therapy. Therefore, with six targeted sessions over the course of three months, one develops an understanding of their main trigger, one learns how that trigger is involved with their drinking and one ultimately eliminates that trigger.

At this point, a client has addressed the neuronal circuitry involved with undesirably drinking via pharmacological extinction; they have regained the complete control to choose exactly how much they want to drink. They have also eliminated the core trigger involved in driving that undesirable drinking and have eliminated that trigger as well as replaced it with an even more effective strategy.  (Return to homepage)

Stage 3

The third and final stage of treatment involves the creation of new behaviors that not only replace the undesirable drinking patterns but become even more effective tools at creating enjoyment in life, help deal with stress and overall create a healthier lifestyle. How does this work?

Through a process involving selective reinforcement, the brain goes through the process of either learning or enhancing the enjoyment of a desirable behavior which begins to be an option to the undesirable drinking. Many clients over time start to prefer this new targeted activity to drinking, even though drinking remains an acceptable option for them. This is one of the most important factors in why The Moderation Method way of alcohol rehab is so successful and sustainable. Through a process that is opposite of extinction, one’s brain becomes supersensitive to the pleasurable endorphin chemicals in the brain on days when Naltrexone is not taken. During these days, activities such as exercise, healthy eating, monogamous sex with a partner, reading or any other chosen behavior becomes potently more enjoyable than the activity has ever been. One essentially learns to enjoy a behavior more than ever before.

The Moderation Method is re-defining treatment and offers our Alcohol Rehab 2.0 to the U.S. The model incorporates the above three tools into a lifestyle that becomes filled with sustainable control over alcohol intake, increased health, increased happiness and all without a huge time commitment or the need to completely overhaul your life. (Return to homepage)