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Antabuse and Alcohol: All You Need to Know

Picture showing the side effects of using Antabuse

The first medication authorized for alcohol use disorder was Disulfiram (brand name Antabuse). People in recovery from alcohol addiction have been using Disulfiram or Antabuse for more than 60 years to reduce their desire for alcohol. However, heavy drinking after taking Disulfiram may result in serious health issues.

Disulfiram does not treat alcohol addiction by decreasing cravings, unlike the medication acamprosate. Medical professionals prescribe Antabuse and Disulfiram to reduce alcohol consumption. When used with alcohol, the medications have adverse side effects such as nausea, chest pain, and sweating.

The following article will discuss the working process, side effects, and uses of Antabuse.

Key Takeaways

Antabuse was the first recommended medication to overcome the adverse side effects of alcohol addiction. However, over time Antabuse lost its importance in the medical field.

  • The reaction mechanism of Antabuse disrupts the digestion of alcohol in the liver, suggesting the side effects of the medication for some particular individuals.
  • Mixing alcohol with Antabuse is not recommended because of the potential side effects of the combination.
  • The most common dose of Antabuse for most people is 250 mg, the smallest effective dose is 125 mg, and the maximum daily amount is 500 mg.
  • The side effects of using Antabuse include breathing issues, swelling, blurred vision, and headaches.

Get professional medical advice about the usage of Antabuse from The Haven Detox: (561) 328-8627

How Antabuse Medication Works?

Disulfiram disturbs how the body breaks down alcohol, leading to adverse side effects. Patients aware of the procedure are less likely to drink and are more motivated to stay sober. The physical effects, however, take time to appear and are unpredictable.

The effects of alcohol appear between 10 and 30 minutes after consumption. The dosage of Disulfiram, the amount of alcohol consumed, and individual characteristics affect the reaction’s seriousness.

Disulfiram plus alcohol in high doses can have serious side effects, such as respiratory depression, heart arrhythmia, seizures, unconsciousness, and even death. 

However, when you take Disulfiram according to your doctor’s recommendations, Disulfiram seldom causes serious responses.

Although severe reactions can last several hours, the adverse side effects typically endure between 30 and 60 minutes. After the last dose of Disulfiram, it can take the body up to two weeks for alcohol to be metabolized normally. Thus anyone who drinks during that time may experience adverse side effects.

Some individuals should not use Disulfiram, while others should use it with extreme caution. If you are allergic to nickel, sulfur, or other thiuram derivatives frequently found in rubber, do not use Disulfiram.

The Mixing of Alcohol and Antabuse

When you take Disulfiram in enormous quantities, followed by heavy amounts of alcohol, serious side effects and perhaps fatal reactions can occur. The strongest U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning regarding the hazards of the drug, the black-box warning, is present on the disulfiram label.

Compliance and motivation for treatment have an impact on how well Disulfiram works. To ensure strong reactions to alcohol, the initial research team studying disulfiram treatment for alcohol dependence utilized high doses of Disulfiram (between 1,000 and 3,000 mg daily).

The scientists were interested in determining if individuals with alcohol use disorders could be trained to abstain from alcohol. 

This happened if they were exposed to the negative consequences of doing so. The significant adverse effects of using large doses of alcohol and Disulfiram led the addiction treatment community to abandon aversion therapy.

Disulfiram is now more frequently used to encourage abstinence. A meta-analysis found that disulfiram use under supervision is linked to higher abstinence rates than unsupervised therapy. Another study found that supervised Disulfiram in court-ordered treatment also increased compliance.

Disulfiram’s efficiency may also be increased by social support groups, a spouse’s supervision, behavioral treatment, and creating a contract with a patient.

The Recommended Dosage of Antabuse

Antabuse is a more commonly used medicine in Europe than in the United States. Studies have shown that long-term usage of this medication can help patients stop drinking, with an abstinence rate of 50 percent. 

When people take Antabuse for a long time, it is more successful as they form a habit of abstaining from alcohol. The typical preliminary dose for most people is 250 mg, taken once daily for one to two weeks. The smallest adequate amount is 125 mg, while the maximum daily dose is 500 mg. Patients who forget to take a dose should do so immediately unless the following quantity is practically due.

Disulfiram’s current daily maximum recommended dose of 200 mg is frequently insufficient. Referring to the National Institute of Health (NIH), only half of the 63 patients receiving Disulfiram under medical supervision who consumed alcohol responded significantly to a daily dose of 200–300 mg.

Although some people require as much as 1.5 g daily, significant adverse effects are rare, reversible, and infrequently dangerous, even at large dosages. The recommended method is modified to minimize discomfort for an alcohol challenge under medical supervision.

In the U.S., the medication is exclusively offered in tablets. It can be ingested with water, milk, tea, coffee, fruit juice, or a soft drink and is best when absorbed whole or crushed.

How to Use Antabuse?

Disulfiram or Antabuse is often administered as tablets. Five hundred milligrams or 250 milligrams are the two-dose possibilities. To determine whether the medication will be well tolerated, one can start with the lower dosage of Antabuse and only increase to the larger dosage if necessary.

Antabuse can be used in the morning or the evening, although if it makes you tired, the evening may be preferable. Disulfiram or Antabuse should be used with food if you have stomach distress while taking them. The pill can be crumbled and added to water, juice, or coffee if it makes it easier to consume.

Avoid taking the missed dose too soon after the next one is scheduled if you forget to take a medication at the scheduled time. Antabuse can produce a response up to two weeks after the last dose and starts working rapidly after the first one.

People using Antabuse are advised to keep a card that explains what would happen if they drank alcohol. The name of a healthcare provider and phone number should be listed on this card in case they need to be called in case of a reaction.

Medical Uses of Antabuse

Disulfiram is a second-line medication for alcohol dependence after acamprosate and naltrexone. Typically, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol in the liver. Acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme converts alcohol into a harmless substance in the process. Disulfiram disrupts this reaction and blocks acetaldehyde dehydrogenase.

By inhibiting acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, Disulfiram prevents the process from proceeding through the intermediate stage. The blood content of acetaldehyde after consuming alcohol while taking Disulfiram maybe five to ten times greater than when the same amount of alcohol is metabolized.

Since acetaldehyde is one of the main contributors to “hangover” symptoms, drinking alcohol creates an instant and severe negative reaction. The patient may develop a serious hangover for 30 minutes to many hours, starting about 5 to 10 minutes after consuming alcohol.

You should not use Disulfiram if you’ve had alcohol during the last 12 hours. 

Disulfiram has no tolerance; its effects become more potent the longer it is used. Disulfiram’s effects can linger in your body for up to 14 days after consumption because of how slowly it is absorbed through the digestive tract and removed by the body. 

As a result, medical ethics require that patients be fully informed about the disulfiram-alcohol drug interactions. Disulfiram’s low compliance is a big issue because it does not reduce alcohol cravings. Subdermal implants, which continuously release the medication over three months, and supervised administration techniques, are strategies to increase compliance.

Who Can Take Antabuse?

Only those who are serious about quitting drinking and are aware of the risks associated with drinking while taking Antabuse should use this medication. Antabuse should never be administered to a person without the awareness and informed consent of the family members or that person.

Alcohol-impaired folks shouldn’t ever use Disulfiram. No matter whether a substance is consumed first, the adverse effects of the interaction between Disulfiram and alcohol are the same. Disulfiram is only prescribed to patients who have maintained at least 12 hours of sobriety because of this.

Anyone with severe heart disease, psychosis, or an allergy to Antabuse shouldn’t use Antabuse due to the risk of harsh responses. Pregnant women should not use Antabuse or Disulfiram unless a doctor considers the benefits outweigh the hazards.

Before recommending the medication, doctors warn their patients about the dangers of combining alcohol with Disulfiram. To check that the usage of Disulfiram is safe, they could do a breathalyzer test, physical examination, or pregnancy test.

A person using Antabuse should also speak to a health care provider before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications because disulfiram interactions with other medicines are possible.

Side Effects of Using Antabuse

The common side effects of using Disulfiram are:

  • Hives
  • Breathing problems
  • Face, lip, tongue, or throat swelling

While using Antabuse, even modest amounts of alcohol might cause unpleasant side effects. The signs consist of the following:

  • A flush, which can be warm, red, or tingling
  • Edema
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Quick weight gain
  • Nausea and violent vomiting
  • Neck discomfort
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid, hammering heartbeats
  • Chest fluttering
  • Bewilderment
  • Exhaustion
  • Spinning sensation or unsteadiness
  • Sense of being dizzy

When Antabuse and a lot of alcohol are combined, there could be more severe side effects such as:

  • Severe chest discomfort
  • Sluggish heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Shallow or weak breathing

Disulfiram use has drawn criticism from certain specialists due to low compliance rates, particularly in outpatient and primary care settings. The drug’s strong side effects and adverse responses have also drawn criticism for its use.

Serious adverse effects are rare when Disulfiram is taken at therapeutic levels. The medication has hazards, and users should be aware of them. Disulfiram and Antabuse can help people recover from alcohol abuse when used with encouragement and monitoring.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What may happen if you drink alcohol while taking Disulfiram?

Avoid consuming any alcohol at all while taking Disulfiram and for 14 days after stopping it because it could make you extremely ill. Applying alcohol-containing products to the skin, such as transdermal medications or rubbing alcohol, should be done with caution.The alcohol in such items may be absorbed into your body and produce headaches and nausea if you take them while taking Disulfiram. Apply a small amount of alcohol-containing items to a remote part of your skin to test them before using them on your entire body.
The combination of alcohol and Disulfiram create adverse side effects. Consult with your doctor before taking Disulfiram with alcohol.

Does Antabuse stop from getting drunk?

Antabuse is a disincentive to you drinking by making you feel ill, which aids in maintaining sobriety. Antabuse helps people stay sober by making drinking extremely unpleasant. The patients may experience a hangover practically immediately after consuming even small amounts of alcohol.It is expected that by making drinking unpleasant, the patients would adhere to their treatment program with little diversion. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, Disulfiram will make you feel unwell if you consume alcohol for up to two weeks after you stop using it.
Medical professionals recommend not to use Disulfiram until the alcohol is out of your body for 12 hours.

What should be avoided when taking Antabuse?

When taking Disulfiram, avoid drinking alcohol. Additionally, you should avoid rubbing alcohol, aftershave, mouthwashes, fragrances, hand sanitizers, hair sprays, and other products containing alcohol.The sort of alcohol present in such products may intensify Disulfiram’s effects and give you the flu. Be careful that several foods, including sauces, kombucha, bottles of vinegar, and other flavorings, may also comprise alcohol and should be avoided while taking Antabuse.
A few muscle massages, cough syrups, tonics, elixirs, and medicines for the cold and flu may contain alcohol. Before using Disulfiram and starting any new medications, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about your current prescriptions.

Can I drink 24 hours after Antabuse?

The half-life of Antabuse is relatively long compared to other medications. The phenomenon suggests that the single dose of Disulfiram from yesterday is still in your system, even if you just took a small amount today. Mental health professionals advise not to consume alcohol for 48 hours after taking Antabuse. Alcohol shouldn’t be consumed for up to two weeks after your last Antabuse medication. You need to consult your health care professional if you want to drink after 24 hours of the Antabuse dose.

Get Professional Medical Advice from The Haven Detox

Alcohol addiction is a mental illness that affects your body as well. Proper and timely treatment is the only way to resist the outcome of alcohol addiction. Antabuse was the first medication to treat alcohol addiction, but now, doctors suggest otherwise.

Get medical assistance from The Haven Detox addiction treatment facility to learn the appropriate use of Antabuse. We offer a spectrum of addiction treatment services, including residential treatment. Medical detox services and top-notch alcohol addiction treatment care are available at The Haven Detox-South Florida. 

Take a bold move and start your journey toward an addiction-free life.

Feel free to contact: (561) 328-8627

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