Disulfiram (Antabuse) in Alcohol Rehab
Learn about Disulfiram, a type of medication that prescribe to treat chronic alcoholism and decide if it may be right for you.
Antidipsotropic medications belong to a group of drugs that all have the same outcome. They are designed to be an anti-drinking medication that when taken in combination with alcohol, produces a severe and unpleasant reaction. They work to develop an aversion to drinking alcohol which will help a person who has a chronic addiction to alcohol stop drinking. Disulfiram is one such drug.
Disulfiram for Treatment of Alcoholism
Disulfiram is a type of medication that prescribe to treat chronic alcoholism. The brand name for Disulfiram is Antabuse. This medication is prescribed in conjunction with other treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy. Antabuse was the first medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcoholism. It has been available since 1951.
How Disulfiram works
Disulfiram effectively causes the body to have an increased level of acetaldehyde in the body which in turn makes a person feel the negative effects of alcohol. These symptoms include flushing, sweating, blurred vision, anxiety, vomiting, and nausea. These are the normal reactions that a person will experience when taking this medication in combination with alcohol. It is believed that this will deter a person from drinking and help them on the road to recovery.
Disulfiram and Alcetaldehyde
Disulfiram works by blocking the process of oxidisation of alcohol at the acetaldehyde stage in the body. What this means is that the body cannot metabolize alcohol properly and the concentration of acetaldehyde is 5 to 10 times higher than normal. Alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde in the liver and is approximately 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself. When a person feels the effects of alcohol in the form of a hangover, it is because of acetaldehyde. When taking Antabuse, the person cannot get rid of acetaldehyde and the subsequent good feelings that a person experiences when drinking alcohol are not felt. They instead suffer the toxic reactions of acetaldehyde.
Side Effects of Disulfiram
Aside from the negative effects that the medication is designed to produce, there are other side effects that should be noted. Skin rash, allergic dermatitis, drowsiness, metallic or garlic-like taste in mouth are the most commonly reported side effects. Medical help should be sought if a patient experiences vomiting or nausea, dark urine, jaundice or weakness when experienced outside normal reaction periods.
Precautions When Taking Disulfiram
Because of the severe reactions experienced when taking Antabuse, care must be taken. Some foods and drinks will cause a disulfiram-alcohol reaction such as liquid medicines, remedies and tonics. Individuals who suffer from diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney or liver disease, heart conditions or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should inform their medical doctor of these condition before commencing taking this medication. If a person has a history of heart failure, strokes, severe psychological conditions or has cancer of the liver, pancreas or other digestive tract diseases, they should not take disulfiram.
Successful Treatment of Alcoholism
Disulfiram is effective in helping a person to stop drinking completely and by increasing the number of days without drinking. However, results do vary depending on the individuals commitment to taking the medication, the length of time they take it for and other treatments.
Many individuals who take antabuse describe feelings of being liberated when taking this medication as it makes the option of drinking not a pleasant one. These feelings and the body’s reaction to alcohol does not stop as soon as a person stops taking the medication. It can take up to two weeks for disulfiram to be out of the body.
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