Antabuse (Disulfiram) is the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. This is an effective deterrent because it can cause extremely unpleasant reactions if a person drinks alcohol while taking Antabuse.
How Antabuse works
When you drink alcohol, your body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, which is a highly toxic substance that can cause many hangover symptoms that occur after heavy drinking. Under normal circumstances, your body will continue to oxidize acetaldehyde into harmless acetic acid.
Antabuse interferes with this metabolic process. It prevents the oxidation of acetaldehyde into acetic acid and causes the accumulation of acetaldehyde, which is 5 to 10 times more than the acetaldehyde that is usually present after drinking alcohol.
How Antabuse affects you
When someone drinks alcohol while taking Antabuse, high levels of acetaldehyde are produced, which can cause very unpleasant reactions. The severity of symptoms (ranging from mild to severe) depends on Antabs’ intake and alcohol consumption. As long as the alcohol is in the body, the symptoms will continue.
The effect of Antabuse starts about 10 minutes after alcohol enters the body and can last for an hour or more.
If you drink alcohol while taking Antabuse, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Heavy vomiting
- Head and neck beating
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty breathing
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Syncope (loss of consciousness)
- Obviously disturbed
- Blurred vision
Severe reactions may include respiratory depression, cardiovascular failure, myocardial infarction (heart attack), acute congestive heart failure, unconsciousness, arrhythmia, convulsions, and even death.
Who should use Antabuse?
Only those who want to try to stop drinking and fully understand the consequences of drinking during Antabuse should accept it. Because of the potential for serious reactions, anyone with severe heart disease, mental illness, or an allergy to Antabuse should not take Antabuse.
Antabuse should not be given to someone without their knowledge and informed consent, nor should it be given to anyone who is drunk.
Women who are pregnant should not take Antabuse. Because of the many interactions with other drugs, people taking Antabuse should consult a doctor before taking other prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Things to know before taking Antabuse
If you are taking Antabuse, be sure to avoid using sauces, vinegar, and all alcoholic foods and beverages. Do not drink any alcoholic beverages (including wine, beer, and alcohol-containing drugs, such as cough syrup) while taking Antabuse, 12 hours before the first dose, and several weeks after the drug is stopped.
What Antabuse does not do
Antabuse acts as a physical and psychological deterrent to people who try to quit drinking. It will not reduce a person’s craving for alcohol, nor will it treat any symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
How effective is Antabuse?
The effectiveness of Antabuse in helping someone to stop drinking depends on the person’s continued use of the drug. Since Antabuse is a daily pill, people can simply stop taking the drug and start drinking after a few weeks.
However, in Europe, where the use of Antabs is much wider than that of the United States, studies have shown that long-term use of Antabs is very effective in helping people quit drinking, and the abstinence rate reaches 50%. Studies have shown that the longer a person takes Antabuse, the better the effect, because they develop a habit of not drinking.