This drug is a thiuram (sulfide) derivative. When taken with alcohol, Antabuse (disulfiram) raises levels of serum acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a byproduct of alcohol that causes hangovers and other side effects. This byproduct is more powerful than ethanol (alcohol). Disulfiram interferes with the body’s ability to break down alcohol once it has been converted to acetaldehyde, leaving it to enter the bloodstream. Once this happens, the side effects of acetaldehyde begin.
This drug is commonly used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms and can make the person sick if even a small amount of alcohol is consumed. It can be used as an alcohol deterrent in the medication treatment of alcoholism. Alcohol cravings are not affected by taking Antabuse. Addicts are prescribed Antabuse in an alcohol rehab center to discourage them from drinking because of negative side effects. Unlike other drugs to help alcoholics remain abstinent, antabuse may be taken episodically, or as the occasion warrants.
Antabuse has also been used to treat cocaine withdrawal, but it is not used for amphetamine or methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. Antabuse seems to be more effective when treating cocaine addiction and withdrawal when combined with buprenorphine. Just as it does with alcohol, Antabuse reduces or eliminates cocaine’s pleasurable effects and instead creates feelings of anxiety, dysphoria, or paranoia. In these ways, Antabuse helps extend the length of cocaine abstinence.
- Body flushing
- Breathing difficulties
- Low blood pressure
- Severe headaches
- Chest pain
Generally, if drugs are not taken while taking disulfiram, its major side effect will be drowsiness. Disulfiram should not be taken if you suffer from heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, if you suffer from psychosis, or if you are pregnant. Disulfiram stays in the bloodstream for up to two weeks after the last dosage. Consuming products containing alcohol while on disulfiram should be avoided as they will induce negative side effects. Drinking while taking antabuse can be fatal.
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- Anti-Craving Medication for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
- Subutex (buprenorphine)
Subutex is used in opiate drug detox to decrease symptoms of withdrawal. It does not contain the blocking agent naloxone that prevents further opiate abuse.