Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a drug that is prescribed for treating chronic alcoholism. Well, Disulfiram never cures alcoholism, but it only adds to the supportive therapy.
Drug Class and Mechanism
Disulfiram works by blocking the oxidation of alcohol in the body. The drug is known to increase the acetaldehyde concentration in the blood. A person who has taken Disulfiram is likely to come across unpleasant reactions even if alcohol is taken in small quantities.
How to use
Disulfiram is an oral drug. The medicine has to be taken as per the prescription. The normal dosage is two or three tablets a day. The drug has to be swallowed and if there is any problem in doing so, it can be crushed or mixed with some liquid and taken.
If an Disulfiram dose is missed, take the missed one as soon as you realise it. But care should be taken not to take the drug if it is almost time for the next scheduled dose. Never mix two doses of Disulfiram.
If you fee of having taken an over dose of the drug, contact your doctor immediately. Nausea, dizziness, vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and tingling are some of the side effects that come with an Disulfiram overdose.
It is always better to take Disulfiram after consulting the doctor. When talking with your doctor, tell him about all your preset and past health problems, which help him to make a right decision on the medication. Frankly tell him if you are having epilepsy, kidney or liver disease, thyroid problems, diabetes, mental disorders, brain damage or seizure disorders.
The drug is rated FDA pregnancy category C, which means that it is not known if the drug can cause harm to the unborn or the newborn babe. Even then, if pregnant or breast feeding, it is good to take the medicine only after consulting your doctor.
When you are taking Disulfiram, you should avoid all kinds of alcohols. You should also be aware of the products that contain alcohol. Keep away from products like mouthwash, aftershave lotions, colognes and other medicines, which all contain alcohol. After taking Disulfiram, you should no consume alcohol for the next 12 hours.
Just like all drugs, Disulfiram also comes with many side effects. While taking the drug, some people may come across allergic reactions like swelling (lips, face, tongue) and hives.
Shortness of breath, seizures, tiredness, yellowing of skin or eyes, dark urine, appetite changes, dizziness, vomiting, weakness and severe diarrhoea are some of the severe side effects that come with Disulfiram. If you come across any of these conditions, better stop the drug and contact your doctor immediately.
Some of the lesser-known side effects that one experience with Disulfiram are skin rashes, mild headaches, metallic taste, mild weakness and dizziness, and swollen tongue.
Disulfiram has to be stored at room temperatures between 59 degrees F and 86 degrees F. The drug has to be stored in tight containers and kept away from light and heat.
Antabuse, the generic name of which is known as disulfiram, is used for treating chronic alcoholism.
The drug acts by creating a negative reaction in people who drink alcohol. The drug interferes with the production of acetaldehydem a toxic substance which leads to hangover symptoms in heavy drinkers. The body usually oxidises acetaldehydem to form acetic acid. But the drug stops the oxidation process, which leads to many severe and mild reactions. This would make an alcoholic averse to alcohol consumption.
When using Antabuse, a person should always be cautious. One should always stick to the doctor's prescription. When taking the medicine, a person should never use alcohol as it can lead to unpleasant effects. The drug has to be used only by persons for whom it has been advised or it can lead to many compactions if used by others.
There are many situations when the doctor alters the medicine or the drug may be discarded for another medicine. A person having disease of the kidney or liver, thyroid disease, mental disorder, brain damage, thyroid disease and epilepsy. Though disulfiram is not known to cause harm to the newborn it is good to consult the physician before he prescribes the drug. On the other hand, it is known that the medicine may pass into breast-milk. So a breast-feeding woman should never use disulfiram.
One important thing that has to be kept in mind by persons is that they should never consume alcohol while using Antabuse. If Alcohol is taken along with the drug, a person can come across fast heartbeat, flushing, thirst, nausea, chest pain, low pressure and vertigo. It is advised that Antabuse drugs should not be taken for about 12 hours after consuming alcohol.
A person taking disulfiram should also be cautious of the products that contain alcohol. Always take care when using cold or cough drugs, tonics, vinegars, sauces, mouthwashes, aftershaves and other products that contain alcohol. One should also avoid contact with paint thinners, stains, solvents, lacquers, perfumes, colognes and antiseptics. The presence of alcohol in these products can also lead to various reactions.
In case of using antibiotic, or going for dental treatment, the doctor should be told before hand as it can lead to many complications. It is better to tell the doctor if a person is using isoniazid, monoamine oxidase inhibitor, benzodiazepine, tricyclic antidepressant, warfarin, metronidazole, theophylline, phenytoin and lithium.
As like all drugs, disulfiram also comes with many side effects. The serious side effects that come with Antabuse include allergic reactions such as tongue, lips, mouth and face, breathing issues and hives. The other serious side effects are extreme tiredness, yellow skin or eye, dark urine, appetite changes, dizziness, weakness, coordination loss, vomiting and diarrhea.
The minor side effects may be rashes, acne, drowsiness, tiredness, headache, impotence, sore tongue and metallic taste.
Disulfiram has been approved for treating alcohol abuse by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In many countries, the drug has been prescribed for persons who want to quit alcohols.