Nalmefene approved by NICE for use to check heavy drinking

Although I have been aware of “The Sinclair Method” for some time, I have realised I have not given it the importance that it deserves on this blog, which is actually read by a lot of people who are looking for solutions to their alcohol problems, as well as those, who are moving on, from traditional addiction solutions, such as AA. There is a growing awareness about medication, that can help alcohol problems in the UK, and I feel it is important to write about this, especially in the lead up to Christmas and New Year, when people are brought to their knees, after a month of binge drinking, and attempt to do something about it in the new year. They sadly, often do not do well.

I came across this piece ,that is typical of the articles being written, and it mentions “Nalmefene” which is very similar to “Naltraxone” and is an opiate blocker, which can help extinguish the cravings to drink alcohol over time, if used by people who are drinking. This can really help those who find abstinence style solutions such as AA (which only has around a 5% success rate), impossible to stick to. Once they have their drinking under more control they can be helped by counselling etc, which rarely helps much, if a person is still a drunk. Here is the link again

I think attitudes to treatment for alcohol problems needs to change, although it does take time for new ideas to take a hold in the medical world. Many of the methods pushed by rehabs , such as the 12 step solution, are just not effective for the majority of people seeking help.


Here is what it says:

LONDON -In a bid to check alcoholism in the country, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the use of nalmefene, a once-daily drug that reduces the urge to drink more.

Nalmefene, also called Selincro, is taken on an as-needed basis once a day. The drug helps those people who want to stop drinking by cutting down the urge for alcohol.

The drug is licensed for use alongside psychosocial support to help people reduce their alcohol consumption and give them the encouragement they need to continue with their treatment.

In 2012-13, there were around 1.2 million hospital admissions in England due to an alcohol-related condition or injury. Estimates suggest alcohol-related harm costs the National Health Service (NHS) in England 3.5 billion pounds a year.

The use of nalmefene is recommended for men who drink more than 7.5 units per day and for women who drink 5 units a day, says NICE in a statement. According to the manufacturer’s submission, 35,000 people are expected to be given nalmefene whilst receiving a psychosocial intervention.

Nalmefene costs 42.42 pounds for a 14-tablet pack. Assuming it is used for approximately 60 per cent of the time, as used in studies, the cost of a 28-day supply is estimated to be 48.48.pounds.

“Many people have a difficult relationship with alcohol even though they have a very stable lifestyle, maintain jobs and a social life and would not automatically assume they have a problem. But regularly drinking over the recommended daily amount of alcohol can seriously damage your health,” said Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director.

“Those who could be prescribed nalmefene have already taken the first big steps by visiting their doctor, engaging with support services and taking part in therapy programmes. We are pleased to be able to recommend the use of namelfene to support people further in their efforts to fight alcohol dependence.

“When used alongside psychosocial support nalmefene is clinically and cost effective for the NHS compared with psychosocial support alone.”

The NICE said that doctors would be “legally obliged” to prescribe the pill to those who require it. Clinical trials have proved that using the drug helped to reduce “heavy drinking days” by 42 per cent with a placebo including counseling, while there was a 55 per cent reduction with the pill and counseling.

Total alcohol consumption was also noted to have been reduced by 50 per cent with placebo and counseling and the number was cut by 61 per cent with pill and counseling.

Nalmefene has been shown to cut alcohol consumption down by 61 per cent after six months alongside regular counseling sessions

One Little Pill

I recently put up a review of the film by Claudia Christian called “One Little Pill” which is about the advantages of using the “Sinclair method” and would urge people to watch it if they are interested in this type of solution, which may suit a lot of people. Here is a link to it  I was interested in Claudia Christian’s background, and I came across this interview from about a year ago, before the film was finished. It is an online interview with Shira Goldberg who interviews some interesting people, and has done a lot of shows. I have included it below, but you can also visit Claudia Christian’s site here for more information.


Commenting area

  1. That’s a great post. I watched “One Little Pill”, as you recommended, a couple of nights ago. Our ignorance of The Sinclair Method has to be one of the major health scandals of all time. A treatment for alcoholism, successfully deployed in Finland for over 18 years, has remained almost unheard of outside that country because it doesn’t fit the AA / 12 step abstinence / spirituality paradigm? How many thousands have suffered and died as a result? I had to have a real hard rock bottom before I could swallow what they told me in AA. It took me over a year from my first meeting to sobriety – during which time I lost everything and was literally beaten into submission by the booze. Eventually, when I crawled back to the fellowship on my knees, I finally “got the message”. Yet, all along, a simple course of cheap medication and some counselling could have saved all the trouble? What a disgrace. Why is this not shared, along with other positive treatment alternatives, at AA meetings? Would it not be in the interests of transparency, and in the interests of helping the suffering alcoholic, to at least acknowledge the alternatives? After all, isn’t helping the suffering alcoholic AA’s primary purpose? This isn’t 1939. There are other, sometimes more suitable, treatments options. Maybe someone should start sharing that at AA meetings?
    “Leaving AA, Staying Sober” at

    • I agree that “One Little Pill” is a great film and should be shown to people in the health service or anyone who is working with alcoholics. I should be shared in meetings as you say, but helping the suffering alcoholic seems to have become secondary to the dogma and traditions in many meetings. I feel I could have stopped earlier if I had used this method, and avoided a lot of pain as well. I can see some people having problems if all they do is take the pills and not have any counselling. Not everyone needs profesional help but quite a few will, especially if they have destroyed their lives or have used alcohol to blot out painful things in life.
      It almost needs some complete no hoper, such as Gazza to take it and be cured. That would get it on the front page in the UK. I am reading about it at the moment, and it may be sucessful in poorer countries first, that have no “treatment centre” industry. The interview with Claudia Christian is well worth looking at as well.
      Perhaps we should start our own “sinclair” rehab! If we made it expensive and put it in a posh box, people might take it seriously!

      • You know that’s a brilliant idea – to get someone like Gazza involved. After all AA has a long history of publicly sober celebrities, despite what the traditions say. From Bill W himself through Marty Mann, Betty Ford, Larry Hagman, Anthony Hopkins … the list runs on and on.

        • It could be done, he is getting help at the moment, but there can often be a next time!

          • Both myself and Claudia have tried unsuccessfully to get information about this news to Paul Gascoigne, sadly.

            I tried most recently perhaps 3 months ago when he had his major last relapse. I wrote to his agent and never had the courtesy of a reply. A friend of mine also wrote to the Professional Footballers Association back in October 2013 and they never replied back either.

            Thankfully, he seems to be doing quite well at the moment and I saw a tv interview with him that says he is amazed that he has no liver problems because of his drinking. This would make him suitable for taking either naltrexone or nalmefene.

            I remember writing very simply that I was not suggesting he start drinking again to try the Sinclair Method, but that his doctor should get him the tablets so that IF he does start drinking again, he should take the tablet beforehand. I mean, how many times has he sadly relapsed?

            It is so sad to know there might be this solution out there for him, but we cannot seem to break down the barrier of getting the information to him 🙁

          • I would have thought it would be a good solution for him to try. I think the PFA probably means well as it supports the Sporting Chance Rehab that was partly started by Tony Adams and I know that Paul went there, and to other rehabs as well. They all seem to be 12 step based and are probably similar to the facility that Claudia revisited in her film, that did not seem to know anything about the Sinclair Method.

            This does seem to be a major issue at the moment, and I hope that people do get the message that there are alternatives to 12 step solutions for those who wish to use them, or those who have not responded well to treatment. I think it will take some time for attitudes to adjust, and I am glad that there are sites like yours, pushing this solution and educating people. It is hard though, I have certainly discussed the method with two people who are close to me and who know they have a big problem, but are not seriously attempting to resolve matters, despite what they say, and they do not get further information. It is a real shame when people throw away the chance to get well. However in future I will definately recommend looking at the sites, the book and the film!

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