Now that 2015 is almost over, we thought it would be a good idea to review all that C3 Europe has achieved this year – the highs and the lows, how we have helped support those using The Sinclair Method, and the measures we have taken to continue raising awareness of the method throughout the year.
Overall, it’s been a successful year and that is great news. Slowly but surely, we have been making progress towards our goal of ensuring TSM becomes more widely accepted as a treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder. It hasn’t been easy and has come with the frustrations that are inevitably attendant on attempting to loosen the ideological stranglehold of a recovery industry that is just that – an industry. Rejections are just par for the course, but it is disheartening when those rejections come from those who should know better and who should be more open-minded to other options for recovery – including doctors, addiction counsellors, and alcohol and drug treatment specialists.
We are not deterred, though, and don’t want you to be either. I remember a very good acquaintance of mine instructing me, many years ago, that the way to double the success rate is to double the failure rate. I looked at him, puzzled, until he explained that if you put your proposal to one person, one person may say ‘no’, but if you ask two people then one person may say ‘yes’…. and if you ask 100 people, then 50 people may say ‘yes’.
I have separated this year’s activities into two categories: the numbers we are currently helping or have helped during 2015, and a breakdown of the work we have done towards raising awareness. In addition, I have included the running total of numbers that we have helped since C3 Europe officially began in April 2014.
C3 Europe has experienced a steady increase in the number of people requesting help or information on their drinking, as well as an increase in the number of people seeking help for their loved ones. Our visitors came from across 122 countries! This is most likely due not only to the NICE approval in November 2014 of Nalmefene as a medication for treating Alcohol Use Disorder, but also to our greater presence on both the internet and in social media, and we intend to continue working to enhance this presence and visibility in 2016.
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The first quarter of 2015 proved a challenging series of events.
In January, we finally managed to get our C3 Europe bank account approved and opened – a project that we had been working on since the previous August! Part of the reason for the long drawn out nature of the process was that having one of our three Directors living outside of the UK complicated matters when it came to meeting the bank’s requirements with regard to fraud prevention and identification measures.
On the positive side, we began communicating with Mike from the RecoveringFromRecovery website and blog. Mikes uses his website to raise awareness of treatment methods that are not based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and he became aware of The Sinclair Method through his own research. Though he hasn’t used the method in his own recovery, he understands and appreciates the scientific approach of TSM, and is actively working to spread the word. Mike has now collaborated with C3 Europe, C Three Foundation and Dr Roy Eskapa to produce several articles on TSM during this year, and to conduct interviews for his podcast. One very worthwhile podcast features a discussion between Dr Eskapa and Gary Bell. Gary was one of the very first people in the UK to use this method and was, of course, the original founder of “Naltrexone Confidential” – the blog that ultimately led to my involvement, an which was subsequently re-branded to C3 Europe. It is an excellent interview and one which I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in TSM.
Our plans for 2015 were, however, thrown into chaos late January by a visit to our premises by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). A thorough search of our premises confirmed that C3 Europe was neither storing nor providing the medication needed for TSM, which would be illegal, as we are not licensed providers of prescription-only medication. With this visit came notification by the MHRA that our website did not conform with the regulations governing the advertising and promotion of medicines in the UK, as per their 114 page ‘rule’ book, called the Blue Guide. This guide is non-negotiable and everything we write, or do, or say on any platform, whether the website or social media, HAS to meet the requirements laid down in this guide.
Click to access the MHRA Blue Guide
We were then served with a 7-day notice to either amend the website to comply fully with the Blue Guide, or to remove it from public view. With such a complicated set of rules to abide by, we had no option but to temporarily take the website down and work behind the scenes to rewrite every page of it, before submitting the site back to the MHRA for their approval. Failure to do so could have resulted in the enforced closure of the website, as well as potential prosecution and/or fines for the Directors of C3 Europe.
The rewriting process took around-the-clock dedication and almost six weeks later, on 9th March, we finally received confirmation from the MHRA that the site now met the Guide’s requirements and that we could re-launch it. The statutory obligation to comply with the requirements of the MHRA’s Blue Guide is, however, an ongoing one, which means that if we are unsure about any additions to the site, we must approach the MHRA for their guidance, before making the additions visible to the public.
We took advantage of the opportunity offered by the rewrite to include several new features, such as the Bing Translate feature, a Paypal Donate button, and the Five Steps to TSM, as featured in Dr Roy Eskapa’s book The Cure For Alcoholism. Looking at the website now, we feel it is a big improvement on the 2014 version, but it was a very stressful time for us all.
Needless to say, we closed the first quarter of 2015 with Moyra and myself taking a little well-earned personal down time!
April brought us our first on-the-road C3 Europe experience in Leicester, England, at a sci-fi convention that we attended along with Claudia, and during which we discussed TSM with the convention’s attendees and raised funds. Sadly, the experience was very much overshadowed by the news of the death of Dr David Sinclair that very same weekend. I think I speak for us all involved with the C3 group in saying that we very much appreciated your messages of sympathy and support. Out of our sadness and the strength of your support came a renewed sense of how we must continue to raise awareness of Dr Sinclair’s lifetime of work. We will be out and about again in April 2016, so we hope to see many of you in Telford…
April also saw us join EasyFundraising, an online fundraising tool for those in the UK to raise funds for free whilst doing their online shopping. Our Easyfundraising target for April to December 2015 was £100.00 and I am very pleased to report that your online shopping actually helped us make almost half as much again, with the funds raised totalling £146.68. Thank you all very much indeed!
Torrential stormy weather stops sponsored cycle ride!
I had also planned to take part in a sponsored cycle ride to raise additional funds but unfortunately the worst torrential downpours that the UK had seen in many, many years, meant it was deemed to dangerous to complete the ride in full. Your generosity raised an additional £300.00, however, with not one sponsor asking for a refund, despite my non-completion of the course. A second sponsored cycle ride will most likely take place on 1st May 2016, and we surely cannot be so unlucky as to suffer such tremendously bad weather two years in a row!
We are always very conscious of our duty to use te funds you help us raise sensibly, and after much discussion we felt we could reach more people, and be taken more seriously by medical professionals and other stakeholders, if we had recognised qualifications. And so in May, we announced our first C3 Europe project – to become accredited alcohol and drug abuse counsellors. It was an ambitious plan for sure, but one that has since proved essential to providing direct help to those in need of it.
May turned out to be a good month, with Moyra planning and devising a section of the website specifically for the loved ones of those either on, or considering using, TSM. Alcohol Use Disorder impacts a great many more people than just the drinker, so this was an important addition to the site. Moyra published her introductory article on 18th May, and has since added to her writings there.
Other Q2 highlights included the addition of an online appointment booking system for those wishing to contact us via Skype, and my own personal experience of using Nalmefene (Selincro), rather than Naltrexone, for TSM. Interestingly, the series of two articles that accompany that experience is in the top 5 of articles viewed in 2015.
By the end of the quarter, both Claudia and I had become accredited Drug, Alcohol and Substance Abuse counsellors and Moyra will gain her accreditation during 2016. We were able to fund this accreditation as a direct result of funds raised by YOU. Thank you!
The third quarter of 2015 began with lots of behind the scenes work during July. Our second project was also ambitious and involved a lot of additional planning. By 11th August, we were read to launch our C3 Europe FREE counselling service, with a gradual roll-out across our websites and social media. To date, this service has been used by twelve people to obtain their prescriptions for nalmefene on the NHS in England, and by two other people to obtain an NHS prescription for naltrexone. These are people who would otherwise have been unable to obtain their prescriptions. Four other people are using this counselling service, alongside their prescriptions from private doctors in the UK, and one person from outside the UK has also successfully obtained their prescription for nalmefene with the additional support that we offer.
Being able to speak as accredited alcohol counsellors has enabled us to be much more successful in communicating with doctors and specialists. The simple fact of the matter is that, following an initial, fact-finding appointment with someone seeking our help, a letter to their doctor confirming their intention of participating in counselling with us, using the medication as approved by NICE, written on headed paper and signed by an accredited alcohol counsellor with the required qualification letters after their name, gains a far more positive reception than would otherwise be the case. It shows them that their patient has committed to recovery by seeking help from an accredited counsellor, and therefore has a desire to help themselves. In the majority of cases, no further communication with the doctor has been necessary for the patient to obtain their initial prescription, and monthly updates confirming their patient’s current situation have been sufficient for them to obtain repeat prescriptions.
Housekeeping activities, such as the filing of our first year’s accounts, was also a feature of this quarter, as was the opening of lines of communication with Paul Turner, an independent alcohol home detox specialist. Paul successfully uses TSM in his practise, and we have since built up a very useful communications framework which ultimately aids those we help in many ways. We also both answer questions on the alcohol forum of the Patient.info website, and C3 Europe has now joined Paul in being recognised and respected as a source of well-balanced and sensible advice on the site.
With Dr Eskapa’s approval, we also published the Spanish version of his book The Cure For Alcoholism on the Amazon Kindle bookstore during this quarter.
September brought a very special occasion for me, personally. During a trip to Amsterdam for a birthday celebration that both Moyra and I attended, we had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who has been using TSM successfully for 9 months under our guidance. This is the very special part of working for C3 Europe that we wish we could share with you all in person. Along with the frustrations that operating C3 Europe involves come those moments when you realise that with your help, someone has been able to get their problem drinking under control and is turning their life around. To witness how TSM is working for them is an amazing thing, but then to meet with them in person takes your breath away and certainly makes it all worthwhile. What a fantastic way to end our third quarter!
Nat under the shaver!
In October, whilst I was busy researching exactly what the current situation is in terms of who is actually authorised to prescribe Nalmefene in each area of NHS England (for a future article to be published early in 2016), one of our trusted supporters was busy planning to raise funds for C Three Foundation and C3 Europe by having her head shaved!
Nat Le Brun raised an incredible £438.00 and on 29th October she underwent her head shave, sharing the funds between our two organisations. A huge “thank you” to you, Nat!
November and December have also seen some small but important successes in continuing to raise awareness of TSM.
Following a submission to the MHRA, we gained their approval to feature two UK-registered companies on our website page “For Those Living In Europe“, each of which will provide an online medical consultation for the medication, Nalmefene. If deemed suitable for the medication, the client can then obtain a prescription for it from the site’s UK-based doctors. Though UK-based, this online consultation service is available across the majority of the EU member states.
Many of you will be aware of the website Reddit.com, whose section on alcoholism is, and always has been, very heavily orientated towards the traditional, 12-step approach. Following negotiations with the moderators, we have been able to announce that TSM, C3 Foundation and C3 Europe are now also featured as a useful resource on their alcoholism sub-reddit page. Anyone using Reddit will be re-directed to one of our websites if they wish to learn more about TSM.
C3 Europe’s Entry in the Patient.info Support Directory
And, lastly for 2015, C3 Europe is now featured on the “useful resources” of the alcohol forum at the Patient.info website, and has also been added to their Support Directory page. This is a website that, as a whole, has 15 million unique views each month, with over 45 million page views, including over 250,000 views per month from doctors and other medical specialists.
We also have some additional and very exciting news about our inclusion on the Patient.info website, which we will bring you in early January.
So…. all in all, and despite some difficulties throughout the year, I am sure you will agree that 2015 has been very productive and successful for us here at C3 Europe. It’s included many challenges, some of which were predictable and some of which came out of the blue, but overall, with your continued support, we are most definitely on the right track for continuing the success in 2016.
Onwards and upwards! Because…