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"Drink In Safety "

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Mike Pearlman, M.D. Photo
6/7/02 Interview with Mike Pearlman, M.D.

One Longfellow Place Suite 2221
Boston, MA 02114

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Identification of DrinkInSafety.Com

  1. DrinkInSafety.Com is an alcohol-craving treatment program that was founded by Dr. Pearlman in Boston; now it is available online to patients nationwide.
  2. Online users work cooperatively with the DrinkInSafety technology and their own doctors.
  3. Visitors to the web site who are drinking more than they care to are invited to explore the information on the site to determine if the program seems appropriate for them.
  4. Most Americans who drink more than they like are not ready for the diagnosis of "alcoholic" or ready for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), though it is an excellent program.
  5. One aspect of the DrinkInSafety program is medical-use of naltrexone or other medications; participants pay attention to their drinking by keeping a "Drinking Diary;" they also set goals, which may be to moderate their drinking or to stop entirely.
  6. The program is designed for people whose life is intact, who are comfortable with much of their life but would like to curb drinking for safety, for health or for reasons of personal comfort.
Interface with AA

  1. DrinkInSafety.Com and AA generally deal with two different populations; there are many more excessive drinkers than ever reach AA or are successful with its program.
  2. Because many patients are not interested in total abstinence from alcohol, they are not interested in AA.
  3. Some people who have struggled in AA use the DrinkInSafety program as a stepping-stone to reach abstinence.
  4. DrinkInSafety refers excessive drinkers to AA when appropriate.
  5. AA says it has about 1.6 million members; the National Institutes of Health and other organizations say that there are another 40-50 million Americans who are drinking excessively-that group is the target for the DrinkInSafety program.
How the Program Developed

  1. Dr. Pearlman had his own struggles with alcohol while he conducted a successful psychiatric practice; working on his own recovery, he learned the elements that go into mastering an alcohol problem.
  2. He brings those lessons to the treatment of others who want an additional resource-Dr. Pearlman is passionate about giving people who can't or won't go to AA an opportunity to slow down their drinking or to consider sobriety.
Steps in the Program

  1. Those who participate through Dr. Pearlman's private outpatient clinics generally attend about 5-10 sessions to learn the methodology and get control of their drinking.
  2. The first step is an assessment or evaluation; coupled with that is instruction in how to use a prescription such as naltrexone-the medication is used prior to drinking in a safe and comfortable way; comfort with the medication is monitored.
  3. The second step once medication is started is paying attention by way of a drinking journal; in measuring and recording their drinks, patients begin to recognize what is going on in their lives-they begin to see what they don't want.
  4. The third step is clarification of positive goals-what they do want; this is the level where dramatic results occur.
The Drug Naltrexone

  1. Naltrexone is not an "aversive" like Antabuse®, a drug that makes takers violently ill if they use alcohol; naltrexone works to block the craving of alcohol.
  2. Takers of the drug report that they are not drinking much (they will leave part of a drink untouched) and they are not thinking about alcohol.
Working the Program

  1. In the Boston metropolitan area, patients can visit one of several office locations.
  2. For patients outside the region, DrinkInSafety.Com can provide information to a local doctor and support the doctor to prescribe the medication.
  3. Online patients are also supplied with the DrinkInSafety.Com Drinking Diary© and the DrinkInSafety.Com Focus Journal© to help them with the attention and clarification processes.
  4. Cost is much less than 28-day residential treatment and especially reasonable when measured against the potentially dramatic change in a patient's life; costs are comparable to fees to see a private psychiatrist.
  5. Less money spent on addiction, more income generated by improved energy levels and health, and the well-being that comes from the healing that takes place all offset the cost of the program.
When to Consider the Program

  1. Certainly if people close to you are complaining about your drinking, consider that evidence of a problem; however, most people in the program are not experiencing their lives coming apart and are not even close to hitting bottom.
  2. Most participants are motivated by feeling uncomfortable and recognizing that they are not doing as well as they want; Dr. Pearlman suggests contacting DrinkInSafety.Com as soon as the thought crosses your mind that maybe you should do something about your drinking.
  3. People who are still functional but feeling uneasy are the best candidates to pay attention to what is happening in their lives.
Success Rate

  1. Dr. Pearlman has experienced about an 80% success rate among 200-300 patients; a clinic in Finland using the same techniques has a comparable success rate.
  2. The patients who diligently cooperate in following the details of the program do even better.
  3. Dr. Pearlman is gratified by the responses from patients who report that they have regained control of their lives and now have a genuine sense of well-being and connection with life.
Future Plans

  1. Shortly Dr. Pearlman will make the web site interactive for patients so that they will be able to keep their diaries and journals online and receive online coaching.
  2. Dr. Pearlman intends to expand the DrinkInSafety.Com program internationally through the web site and by engaging a network of local physicians throughout the U.S. and abroad to cooperate in delivering services.
Contact Information for Mike Pearlman, M.D.:

(v) (617) 722-9238
(f) (240) 526-8207
(e) MPearlmanMD@DrinkInSafety.Com