Antabuse, or disulfiram, is one of the oldest medications accessible for the treatment of this powerful addiction. While this medication isn’t right for everyone, Antabuse has helped many alcoholics stay sober.
Disulfiram (Antabuse). Molecular Formula: C10 H20 N2 S4 The drug of legend among recovering alcoholics, Disulfiram causes the user to suffer an immediate and very unpleasant reaction to any ingestion of alcohol. It does this by interfering with the oxidation of the alcohol during metabolism, increasing the volume and concentration of acetaldehyde in the bloodstream, which causes the ‘unpleasantness’.
The reaction will persist as long as the alcohol is being metabolised, sometimes long after any drinking has ceased, as the rate of metabolism itself is not affected at all. Even small amounts of ingested alcohol, even as much as mouthwash content, may cause a throbbing headache, heavy vomiting, breathing difficulties, chest pain, tachycardia (increased heart rate), hypotension (lowered blood pressure), syncope (faintness) and vertigo.
Extreme reactions can cause serious risk to the heart such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), cardiovascular collapse, myocardial infarction (heart attack), unconsciousness, convulsions and death.
Disulfiram (Antabuse), when paired with comprehensive addiction treatment, can be helpful in the recovery process. Doses of disulfiram can be continued under medical supervision until the individual is stable and has sustained long-term abstinence from alcohol.
Long term use of Disulfiram (Antabuse) does not build a tolerance to its effects, in fact, the longer the use, the greater the reaction. This does not mean that it is in and of itself an effective combatant for alcohol dependency, only a deterrent. Disulfiram is best utilised as a measure to enhance a long term treatment program by ensuring the participant is sober throughout.
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