This morning I'm feeling the slight pressure of hang-over (nal-over) and yet I'm feeling it in bright tones of pride and gratitude, because IT'S WORKING AGAIN!
I was very worried it wouldn't. I introduced myself a few weeks back, talking about how I was hoping that the second time would be a charm. I started Nal/Sinclair method in December 2015. I was so relieved at the feeling of control that I let myself get carried away. I started only taking half a tab, then I started taking it at the same time as I started drinking, then after starting drinking, then I stopped taking it. (I know, I know....!) Anyway, that's the short of it.
I pushed reset in January and made an appointment with my doctor - an addiction medicine specialist. I wanted to get to a week of abstinence before starting. This was a personal choice/preference--I just wanted to break the cycle and have some sober (AND nal free) time before starting. I followed his recommendation of an initial two week course of taking nal daily whether drinking or not (***See sidebar below). This was a pretty heavy drinking time. Blackouts every second day. Did not feel good. Each time, I was 'pushing past' the nal, compulsively drinking quickly and in a cat-and-mouse game (sneaking extra drinks when drinking socially). Felt pretty gross. Then, when I stopped taking Nal daily, I also lost a lot of the urge to drink. I had about a week of zero drinking and zero cravings.
The desire to drink crept back up and I watched it, even encouraged it, with curiosity. When I had my first drinking/nal 'session' after this, it was interesting. I felt this point of a threshold after 2 drinks where the thought of another drink was just revolting. Sadly, I pushed past this again and got really drunk. BUT, reflecting on it the next day, I knew that I could USE that window of control that I had experienced.
Again, in the following AF days, there were very few cravings, and they were low grade. My next three sessions have been 4 standard drinks each. I am proud of this! I have rarely ever stopped after 4 drinks, except for when I was already hungover and exhausted. Experiencing the feeling of stopping, and the withdrawal was painful. But it felt like something to just get through.
My goal for the coming weeks is no more than 3 drinking days of no more than 4 standard drinks each. I hope to reduce this frequency to twice a week over time. And I'm going to have to be extremely vigilant about always taking the nal and not fooling myself like I did last time.
***Sidebar: Some may disagree, but my doctor advocates an initial period of 2-4 weeks taking nal every day before beginning Sinclair method. Apparently there is some research support for the effectiveness of this approach. I'll ask him for the citation next time I see him. I only bring this up, because some people for whom nal is 'not working' may want to try this. The idea is that it kind of 'clears the circuit' and makes it more ready for conditioning (extinction).
TSM (re)start 02/19/2017
Wk Drinks (AF's) (BlackOuts)
0 - 45 (3) (3) [pre-nal average]
1 - 21 (5) (2)
2 - 31 (4) (3)
3 - 25 (5) (1)
4 - 10 (6) (1)
5 - 3 (6) (0)
6 - 8 (5) (0) [Mar 27-Apr 1]