What Is Antabuse And Does It Help Alcoholics To Stop Drinking?
Antabuse, the brand name for disulfiram, is used to help alcoholics quit drinking. Disulfiram blocks an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. When an alcoholic on disulfiram takes a drink, he or she will experience a highly unpleasant state that’s similar to the worst imaginable hangover times ten. Disulfiram treatment is generally reserved for chronic alcoholics, and it can be augmented with 12-step programs, therapy, counseling and/or behavior modification.
Is Antabuse An Effective Treatment For Alcoholism?
A variety of studies suggest that disulfiram can be an effective treatment for alcoholism. Disulfiram can reduce the odds of relapse and help an alcoholic to maintain sobriety.
At its best, Antabuse can be a bridge between lives. On one hand, you have an alcoholic life that’s not good for you, but it’s all you know. On the other hand, you have an opportunity for a sober life that you do want but know next to nothing about. You haven’t learned to relax, work, reward yourself, play, relate to others, take care of yourself, or celebrate anything without drinking. Learning to live without alcohol takes time. Disulfiram can help alcoholics to stay sober long enough to develop new habits, learn new behaviors, implement new coping skills, and begin to build a solid foundation for long-term recovery.
How Does Disulfiram Work?
Disulfiram was discovered in the 1920s and used to treat alcoholism after FDA approval in the 1950s. If you drink alcohol while taking Antabuse, the interaction between these two substances will produce very severe stomach upset along with other extremely unpleasant reactions. The idea was that if drinking alcohol would make an alcoholic seriously sick, he or she would not only stop drinking, but lose the obsession with alcohol as well.
An important property of disulfiram is that it stays in the body for up to 15 days after the last dose is taken. If an alcoholic decides to quit taking disulfiram in order to drink, he or she must wait two weeks for the effects of disulfiram to wear off. If you want to avoid getting sick, you can’t just stop taking disulfiram today and drink tomorrow. Instead, you’ll have to delay your gratification. In the meantime, you’ll have plenty of time to reconsider that drink, restart disulfiram and ask for help.
What Happens When Someone On Disulfiram Takes A Drink?
For someone on disulfiram, it takes only one drink to bring about an intensely unpleasant reaction. One bottle of beer, one glass of wine, or one shot of liquor is all it takes to make yourself seriously sick. A typical reaction includes:
o Flushed face
o Chest pain and shortness of breath
o Heart palpitations
o Low blood pressure
o Neck pain
Which Substances Must An Alcoholic On Disulfiram Avoid?
Besides beer, wine, liqueurs, and hard liquor, an alcoholic on Antabuse should steer clear of flaming foods, foods simmered in alcohol, vinegar, unbaked desserts with alcohol, rum fruitcakes, and sauces prepared with alcohol. Additionally, those taking disulfiram should avoid mouthwash with alcohol, cough medicines, and liquid cold remedies.
When Can An Alcoholic Begin Disulfiram Treatment?
Antabuse treatment can begin 24 hours after the alcoholic has had his or her last drink. Pregnant and nursing moms should not take this drug.