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Alconol (disulfiram) offers patients a unique tool in battling alcoholism. An alcohol antagonist medication, this product causes a severe negative effect, similar to a severe hangover, in patients who drink alcohol.
Alconol is unlikely to be successful on its own. Patients should be determined to quit drinking; drive and willpower are important, and a reliable support network can also help tremendously. Treatment also requires quitting cold-turkey; after a single dose of Alconol, negative effects may be experienced if any alcohol is consumed in the next two weeks.
This product does not reduce cravings for alcohol. Other medications that do reduce cravings may also be administered.
What to Expect from Alconol
Alconol can be a very useful aid in the management of alcohol dependency. The medication definitely works; concerns about patient desire to quit have more to do with the patient continuing to take it than failure of the medication to work. This is why personal drive and support networks are so important.
If alcohol is consumed after the medication has been taken, the patient begins to feel effects about 10 minutes later. Effects can last 30 minutes to several hours. Alconol causes the body to mimic a hangover, including:
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 rare that an individual is so determined, however, as the severity of these effects are directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed.
Alconol 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 Alconol, and treatment can span months or years.
Dosage & Administration
Patients should not initiate treatment if any alcohol has been consumed in the previous 12 hours. When ready to start taking Alconol:
Treatment may continue for as long as it is deemed beneficial, which often spans months or years.
Cravings are much more varied. Some patients will continue to crave alcohol for the remainder of life, though to a lesser degree as time goes on. Others recover fairly quickly, with no powerful cravings after a few months. Other medications can also influence cravings. It's largely a personal variable.
Patients taking Alconol should be aware that it works on all alcohol. Alcohol is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrups, as well as many foods. These are best avoided.
Warnings before Use
Patients should make sure the prescribing doctor is aware of other major medical conditions, most notably:
Individuals who are allergic to rubber or latex may not be able to take Alconol.
Other side effects are relatively common, but typically mild and tend to disappear after a few weeks of treatment, including:
Patients who experience the following side effects without drinking alcohol should seek medical attention:
Alconol can 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 treatments.