- Prescription Drug Abuse Slideshow: Facts and Statistics
- OTC and Prescription Drug Abuse Slideshow Pictures
- Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse Slideshow Pictures
- What is Antabuse, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Is Antabuse available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for this drug?
- What are the uses for Anabuse?
- Antabuse BLACK BOX WARNING and side effects
- What is the dosage for Antabuse, and how should it be taken?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with this medication?
- Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this drug?
What is Antabuse, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Disulfiram is an oral drug used for treating alcoholism. Alcohol is converted in the body into acetaldehyde by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. Another enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase then converts acetaldehyde into acetic acid. Disulfiram prevents acetaldehyde dehydrogenase from converting acetaldehyde into acetic acid, leading to a buildup of acetaldehyde levels in the blood.
High acetaldehyde levels cause unpleasant symptoms after drinking alcohol such as:
These unpleasant side effects dissuade alcoholics from drinking.
Do I need a prescription for this drug?
Yes, you need a prescription from your doctor or other health care professional for this medication.
What are the uses for Anabuse?
Antabuse is used of treating alcoholism. It is used in combination with supportive care and psychotherapy.
Antabuse BLACK BOX WARNING and side effects
When alcohol is consumed by a patient taking disulfiram, effects include:
- Throbbing headache
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Abnormal heartbeats
- Heart attack
- Liver failure
Common side effects of include:
- Metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth
- Skin rash
- Swollen or sore tongue
Possible serious side effects include:
Antabuse should never be given to a patient who is intoxicated, or without his or her full knowledge. Relatives of patients should be advised about this warning also.
Patients should be fully informed about the Antabuse-alcohol reaction and must be strongly warned about drinking while taking Antabuse. Patients should avoid alcohol in all forms, including alcohol in sauces, vinegars, cough mixtures, mouth wash, aftershave lotions, and back rubs.
Antabuse may cause a reaction with alcohol up to 14 days after ingestion.
Quick GuideAddicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
What is the dosage for Antabuse, and how should it be taken?
Disulfiram should not be started unless a patient has stopped ingesting alcohol for at least 12 hours.
- The initial dose is 500 mg every day for 1 to 2 weeks.
- After two weeks a maintenance dose of 125 to 500 mg is given daily.
- The average maintenance dose is 250 mg daily.
- Treatment is continued until the patient develops self-control.
- Maintenance therapy may be required for months or even years.
Which drugs or supplements interact with this medication?
- Disulfiram may increase the effect of warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and increase the risk of bleeding. The dose of warfarin may require adjustment.
- Patients taking isoniazid and disulfiram may develop unsteady gait or significant changes in mental status. Disulfiram should be stopped if such symptoms appear.
- Disulfiram may increase blood levels of phenytoin (Dilantin), leading to high blood levels of phenytoin. Blood levels of phenytoin should be monitored and the dose of phenytoin should be adjusted as needed.
- The liquid form of ritonavir (Norvir) contains alcohol which can cause a severe reaction in people taking disulfiram.
Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about this drug?
What preparations of are available?
- This medication is available as tablets of 250 mg and 500 mg.
How should I keep this medication stored?
- This drug should be stored at room temperature, 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F).
When was it approved by the FDA?
- The FDA approved disulfiram in August, 1951.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Antabuse (disulfiram) is an drug used to treat alcoholism by interfering with how the body breaks down the alcohol. If a patient drinks alcohol on the drug, he or she will experience a range of unpleasant and even dangerous side effects like vomiting, seating, throbbing headache, confusion, and shortness of breath; removing the urge to drink. Read about side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy safety information.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Alcohol Quiz: Alcoholism & Health Effects
Take the Alcohol (Alcoholism) Quiz to learn how your alcohol is processed by your body and your brain....
Alcohol Abuse: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking
Read about the health risks of chronic heavy or binge drinking. Anemia, cancer, gout, cardiovascular disease and many more...
Related Disease Conditions
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as...
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and...
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and...
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under...
Alcohol and Teens
Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by American teenagers. Teens that drink are more likely to drive under the influence,...
Liver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as: gallstones, high...
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Quick GuideAddicted to Pills: The Health Risks of Drug Abuse
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top disulfiram-oral Related ArticlesComplete List
Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismAlcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Alcohol Abuse SlidesRead about the health risks of chronic heavy or binge drinking. Anemia, cancer, gout, cardiovascular disease and many more disease can be caused from heavy or binge drinking.
Alcohol and TeensAlcohol is the most frequently used drug by American teenagers. Teens that drink are more likely to drive under the influence, have unprotected sex, and use other drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Symptoms of alcohol abuse in teens include lying, breaking curfew, becoming verbally or physically abusive toward others, making excuses, smelling like alcohol, having mood swings, and stealing.
Alcohol QuizTake the Alcohol (Alcoholism) Quiz to learn how your alcohol is processed by your body and your brain.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Drug AbuseDrug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as:
- high cholesterol or triglycerides,
- blood flow obstruction to the liver, and
- toxins (medications and chemicals).
- upper right abdominal pain, and
Mental Health (Psychology)Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.