Antabuse

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Antabuse (disulfiram) is an alcohol antagonist medication used to treat alcoholism. The medication works by producing a sensitivity to drinking alcohol, essentially making one feel a severe hangover shortly after the medication is consumed.

Antabuse is also being investigated as a treatment for cocaine addiction, as well as a new cancer treatment.

Taking Antabuse

Antabuse can be useful as an aid in the management of alcohol dependency, for those who want to remain sober to make the most of supportive therapy. Without the desire and resulting motivation to quit drinking, as well as supportive therapy, the medication is unlikely to be successful---not because it doesn't work well, because it does, but because the patient is unlikely to continue taking it.

Treatment is typically initiated after the patient has abstained from alcohol for at least 12 hours:

  • Start with 500 mg, taken as a single dose, once per day for one to two weeks.
  • After the initial week or two, dosage may be adjusted downward to 250 mg.
  • Some patients are able to take 125 mg per day, while others need to stay at 500 mg.
  • Do not exceed 500 mg per day.
  • Tablets may be swallowed whole, but can be split or crushed and mixed in wet food or drinks.

Treatment may continue for as long as it is deemed beneficial, which may span months or years.

If the medication has been taken and alcohol is consumed, the patient quickly begins to feel very bad, about 10 minutes later. This effect can last 30 minutes to several hours. Antabuse causes the body to produce a number of effects that mimic hangover, including:

  • Flushing of skin
  • Throbbing in the head and neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating and thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Labored breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting

Some of the above can be dangerous, and some individuals have suffered complete cardiovascular collapse and death if they persist in drinking after taking Antabuse. It is, however, fairly rare that an individual is so determined, as the severity of these effects are directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Antabuse is absorbed and eliminated from the body slowly; a single dose may remain active in the body for up to two weeks. There is no tolerance build-up to Antabuse.

Unfortunately the medication does nothing to reduce cravings for alcohol, which is why determination and supportive therapy is so important. Alternatively, other medications that do work to reduce cravings may be utilized, but Antabuse does interact with a wide range of medications.

Precautions & Side Effects

Patients should make sure the prescribing doctor is aware of other major medical conditions, most notably heart disease, kidney or liver issues, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid problems, or mental illness. Patients who are allergic to rubber or latex may not be able to take Antabuse.

Other side effects are relatively common, but typically mild and tend to disappear after a few weeks of treatment, including:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Drowsiness
  • Unpleasant taste in mouth

Patients who experience the following side effects without drinking alcohol should seek medical attention:

  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling, particularly in hands or feet
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Stomach pain that radiates to the back
  • Rash or itching
  • Jaundice

Note that alcohol can be found in a range of products, from cough medicines to food. Be very aware of the ingredients in products before consuming them.

Antabuse is known to interact with a wide range of other medications, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before mixing other treatments with Antabuse.

Antabuse/ALCONOL

500mg disulfiram  Buy Antabuse 16 Tablets - $12.99
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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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