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How long does Antabuse stay in your system?

Antabuse (disulfiram) is an alcohol antagonist drug used in the management of chronic alcoholism. It one of a handful of medicines to help you stop drinking that has been designed to act as a deterrent to alcohol consumption. Antabuse works by making you feel physically nauseous, provoking vomiting if you drink. But how is disulfiram metabolized in the body? How long will it stay in your system?

Continue reading here to learn more about the use, mechanism of action, elimination, and possible side effects of Antabuse. If you have any questions after reading the text, we invite you to ask questions and share comments at the end of the page. We do our best to respond to all questions about what happens when you quit alcohol…personally and promptly.

Main Antabuse uses

Antabuse is prescribed for people who suffer from chronic alcoholism. It works as a deterrent to drinking by making you feel nauseous any time you consume alcohol. While not prescribed for people who want to try controlling their drinking, it is an excellent option for those who would like to abstain. How does it work exactly?

The main ingredient in Antabuse, disulfiram, produces an irreversible inhibition of the enzyme responsible for oxidation of the ethanol metabolite called “aldehyde dehydrogenase”. By blocking oxidation of alcohol and allowing the enzyme to accumulate in blood concentrations 5-10 times higher than normal, it produces a very unpleasant side effects if the person taking Antabuse also consumes alcohol. The disulfiram-alcohol reaction provokes the following number of unpleasant symptoms:

  • intense flushing of face
  • difficulty breathing
  • heart palpitations
  • pulsating headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Antabuse produces best results if/when used together with behavior modification, counseling sessions, psychotherapy, and when you have an adequate support system. It is not, however, a cure for alcoholism.

How do you take Antabuse?

Antabuse can be administered after at least 12 hours of alcohol abstinence. At the beginning of the course of treatment, Antabuse is usually taken only once a day, preferably in the morning, at a maximum dose of 500 mg. After the first 1-2 weeks of Antabuse treatment, patients are usually given a single daily dose of 125-500mg. The duration of Antabuse therapy may be several months (or sometimes even years), or simply until the patient has established a solid recovery from alcoholism and has established period of a long term sobriety.

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Peak levels and half life of Antabuse

Antabuse is slowly absorbed by the body. Likewise, it is also eliminated from the system at a very slow rate. Upon administration, about 80-90% of a single oral dose makes it into the blood system, while the rest are quickly eliminated. Disulfiram is metabolized in the liver and is excreted primarily through the kidneys, while some metabolites are exhaled as carbon disulfide. The half life of Antabuse is 60-120 hours and up to 20% of a single dose may remain in the body for a week or more.

Antabuse starts to affect ethanol metabolism within 1-2 hours after administration. Following a single dose of the medication, the body may react to any amount of alcohol for up to 14 days.

Antabuse drug testing: How long does Antabuse stay in the body?

Antabuse is not a narcotic and IS NOT subject to the legal restrictions of the Controlled Substances Act. But, doctors will probably be scheduling frequent blood tests if you are taking Anatabuse. Regular blood check-ups are important for monitoring the liver function and checking for side effects.

Note here that Antabuse (disulfiram) may also interfere with certain laboratory tests, including urine VMA/HVA tests. Since it can cause a false positive on drug test results, it is important that you notify the laboratory personnel and all your doctors that you are using Antabuse.

Antabuse and alcohol addiction

Antabuse tablets contain the active ingredient disulfiram, which is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor. This medicine is a tool to keep alcoholics away from drinking. If someone who is taking Antabuse drinks alcohol, a severe, unpleasant and potentially dangerous reactions occur quickly. This is achieved because disulfiram interferes with the way the body metabolizes alcohol.

It is important that Antabuse therapy is used in combination with other forms of therapy and good social and psychological support. After all, alcoholism is not only a drinking problem, it’s also a thinking and social problem. A recovering person needs to implement many new and positive changes in life, in order to remain alcohol-free.

Who should not have Antabuse in their system?

Some people may experience unwanted reactions to disulfiram (the active ingredient in Antabuse) that may require medical attention. If this medication causes any severe or persistent physical or mental problems you should notify your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

For safety reasons, Antabuse should not be administered by intoxicated patients, or if a person hasn’t abstained from alcohol for at least 12 hours. It shouldn’t be used by patients allergic to disulfiram or by pregnant women. Further, Antabuse should be prescribed and used with great caution in the populations who are diagnosed with:

  • cerebral damage
  • chronic and acute nephritis
  • diabetes mellitus
  • epilepsy
  • hepatic cirrhosis or dysfunction
  • hypothyroidism

Antabuse questions about length in system

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism and are looking for medications that can help you quit, Antabuse is one of several meds that can help. We suggest consulting your family doctor or a medical professional who specializes in addiction treatment to be screened for treatment.

If you have any questions, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Or if you are someone who succeeded in recovery with Antabuse, share your story with others. We appreciate your feedback and try to answer all legitimate enquiries in a personal and prompt manner.

Reference Sources: Sultan Qaboos University: Disulfiram
Medline Plus: Disulfiram
NCBI: Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice: Chapter 3-Disulfiram 
MedSafe: Antabuse (disulfiram) 200mg Tablets-Data Sheet
PubMed: The efficacy of disulfiram for the treatment of alcohol use disorder

Photo credit: nicc37

Leave a Reply

42 Responses to “How long does Antabuse stay in your system?
Andrew
8:59 pm July 3rd, 2015

Very informative reading. I started 500 mg Antabuse in April and took it two months before stopping. Part of me wishes I had started cutting the pill in half to make the prescription last longer but at the time I was just excited to not be drinking. My question is that with someone who has a pretty good metabolism and took 500 mg daily for two months, how long of a wait would be safe before I could safely have even one drink? I’m currently at two weeks since my last dose and I know 500 mg is a lot so I’m just curious. I also realize I should ask my doctor but two plus weeks is usually the rule of thumb from what I’ve read. There is no burning desire to start drinking, just curious.

1:05 pm August 7th, 2015

Hi Andrew. After two weeks of not taking the medication it has been completely eliminated from your system. So, you will be safe to have a drink. But, be careful not to exchange one substance for another and get in more trouble.

Suzanne
2:52 pm August 10th, 2015

Hi, I took an overdose of antabuse 4 days ago and was drinking (yes very stupid). I have been very very sick, trouble breathing, headaches, flushes, joint aches and pains and in bed pretty much the whole time. I am starting to get up for short amounts of time now, but i am wondering how long will it be before i get better? Do I drink lots of water? anything i can take, thank you for your help.

John k
11:39 am August 19th, 2015

I’ve been taking 200mg of Antabuse for the last ten days and enjoying my sobriety. However I also use a home breath upset to show my Wife I’m abstinent. For some reason I consistently blow 0.01 or 0.02 when tested. Every time my wife uses it she reads o.00. It’s causing some stress as she is concerned I’m micro dosing. Could it be the Antabuse..?

3:30 pm August 24th, 2015

Hello Suzanne. Yes, lots of fluids is a great idea. And, also eat light and small meals many times per day instead of heavy and big meals. Also, ask the pharmacist at your pharmacy to suggest over-the-counter medications that will help lower the intensity of the withdrawals. If you experience any adverse effects, however, don’t hesitate to go see a doctor.

4:18 pm August 24th, 2015

Hi John. I am not aware of any such effects of Antabuse. It’s a good idea to speak to a doctor about this.

kunal
2:34 pm September 3rd, 2015

i have taken half pill of anti abuse drug on tuesday ie 1st sept 2015 now its 3rd sept evening, will it be safe to have a drink

Melissa
4:02 pm September 8th, 2015

Hey Ivana! My mind has lost last week. I have taken a little anti abuse and its get me sick for 2 day. After that one of my friend say don’t do it again. Also suggest me some physical exercise. He took me a gym and I have do some free hand exercise.

10:26 am September 9th, 2015

Hi Melissa. That was a good call by your friend. Are you feeling better after exercising?

Lana
5:00 am September 20th, 2015

Hi, this seems like A very informative and well researched real forum. I tried antabuse 200mg three months ago, got myself into high risk situation..(watching close friend drinking on antabuse, knew she was taking it daily as it was monitored and dissolved in water)
…all I saw happen was flushed face, and she drank 3 bottles of wine. Ph screen too small! Anyway I made choice to try for myself, a sip of wine, wait 30mins, all good, half a glass, same thing, ended up drinking full bottle of wine, no effects at all. I had been taking the 200mg dose for three weeks. Pissed off I tested it now. My Dr has now increased my dose to 400mg which I take daily at the chemist. 7days now, have just drunk a glass of wine…hour ago..no effect. Are you sure this works for everybody?

andrea
10:48 pm October 11th, 2015

I have been taking antibuse for 3 days now and am taking it today……. my dose is 250mg…… am I safe to drink?

judy
2:01 pm October 16th, 2015

how long do you need to stop antabuse before you can have a glass of wine?

4:24 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Andrea. It’s not safe to drink while on antabuse. Antabuse works by making you sick to your stomach if you have a drink, so even a small amount will cause you very abrupt and unpleasant symptoms.

ameer
10:58 pm November 9th, 2015

antabuse sucks guys this thing damaged my hole system u cant enjoy alcohol again seriously is bad

is it safe to drink alcohol after 9 days
2:49 pm December 1st, 2015

Can I drink alcohol after 9 days of stopping antyabuse.

Vishal
7:32 pm December 6th, 2015

I use to enjoy good capacity of alcohol till the end of 2013 but suddenly my body started rejecting alcohol. After 10 minutes of having any drink( whisky vodka or rum) I start having problems in my body and the feeling is exactly same as mentioned in your article—intense flushing of face, faster heart beats and my eyes turning red . I want to get rid of this problem as I want to continue enjoy social drinking like my other friends. Your advise to me in this regards shall much be of help to me and much appreciated.

5:59 pm December 9th, 2015

Hi Vishal. Did you start taking Antabuse at that point of life when you also started experiencing these symptoms? I suggest you speak with a doctor and see what is causing such reactions.

1:42 pm December 15th, 2015

Hi “is it safe to drink alcohol after 9 days”. As explained in the article, the body may react to any amount of alcohol for up to 14 days following the administration even of a single dose of Antabuse. So, I do not recommend drinking alcohol any time soon.

Ayshikia
8:32 am January 3rd, 2016

Hello!
I think you people who are asking if it’s safe to drink while, or after stopping Antabuse are not really ready to be taking it! This is a drug that was created to help us (yes I said us! I’ve been taking Antabuse for two months now 500 mg) stop drink.. Or at lease be a step in that right direction.. I really think that with this pill and through therapy we can all end our addiction!!!

I really wish you all the best of luck in your recovery!

CS
5:09 pm January 4th, 2016

My wife has given some type of medicene in food if i take alchol me face becomes red and heart beat becomes fast please advise me some medicines to take alcohol again

Barb
12:17 am January 17th, 2016

I have been on antibuse 250mg once daily for 11 months. Just stopped 8 days ago. No desire to drink but how long will this stay in my system?

Ash
10:37 pm January 21st, 2016

8days off 250mg of Antabuse after taking for 3 months strait. Is it ok to have a few beers

caron
11:44 am March 7th, 2016

Hi my partner is on disulfiram tablets and had some canabis this has made him feel unwell how long will it be till he feels well again and should he carry on taking the tablets whilst feeling unwell

Tricia
8:29 pm March 7th, 2016

Hi,
I have taken 1000 mg of antabuse from 2/11/2016 then went down to 500mg from 2/20/16 and stopped altogether 3/05/2016. When is it safe to have a drink?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:31 pm March 8th, 2016

Hi, Caron. Please consider that it is illegal to consume medications other than prescribed. Mixing two drugs, or/and alcohol may cause serious damage to your husband’s health. If he still doesn’t feel well, I’d suggest you take him into the hospital.

Alexis
2:56 pm March 21st, 2016

Three days after I started taking antabuse i startig blowing numbers and continued to blow numbers for 6 days even though I wasn’t drinking I hadn’t drank for 3days before my fist dose of antabuse an then on the 7th day I stopped blowing numbers but for some odd reasons I keep having this problem even though Im not drinking because I didn’t blow numbers for 3days and on the 4th day I starting blowing numbers again an since thtat forth day i havent blown any numbers an haven’t for a week please tell what is is going on with my body what could be going on with my body I take methadone too an when they give me the breathilizer at the clinic an I blow numbers they will not give me my dose of methadone I need my methadone so I need to find out what’s going on if I’m not consuming any alcohol how could I be having this problem please some one give me some answers to what I should do is there any test or blood work I can have done to prove I’m not drinking I also had them give me a urine test to see if alcohol was in my urine a it wasn’t but that didn’t prove to them that I wasn’t drinking I need some answers please

First experience
4:58 am March 22nd, 2016

I want to say antabuse has been a life changer for me. I was on a very seriously scary road. Its been over 3 weeks now. But that is including the time spent in the hospital detoxing. It was the most terrifying and scariest time ive ever gone thru. I would drink all day every day. My levels were a .42 at my breaking point. I admitted myself into the hospital and have been on the road to recovery ever since. It was very tough but I couldn’t do it on my own. I’ve tried. I’ve been thru multiple times where I would be in bed and sick for days, not even able to hold a glass of water with two hands without profusely shaking out of control. Its been an issue for an ongoing while in till I actually felt scared that I was killing myself. I could feel my nerves being damaged, losing feeling in my hands and feet and legs. My stomach hurt constantly. Irregular bowel movements and vomiting with the first few shots in the morning in till I got the feeling I felt I needed and then I felt normal again and the shots got easier to take and I could function for the day. My sleep was terrible up at 2-3 in the morn. And what would I do. Go for that whiskey bottle. I don’t regret ever my decision to getting help. I am so thankful I was able to catch it and have the courage and strength to do something about it. It is still so hard sometimes (slot of times) but I can NOT ever be in that position ever again in my life. I was on the road to a very painful tragic death. And over alcohol? Here is my story. STAY STRONG! :)

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:56 pm March 23rd, 2016

Thanks for sharing your story, First experience :) Hope other will find your post inspirational! All the best!

YogicKitty
12:11 am March 25th, 2016

I had been having a tough time abstaining so I asked my doctor if I could try Antabuse. I had been drinking about a half pint of vodka daily (usually all at once in the evening after work) before deciding to ask for Antabuse. I was warned of acne, and headaches, and etc. I started on 125mg for a week. Noticed feeling a little spacey – kinda not all there, these symptoms seemed to become more and more salient. In my experiences with psychoactive drugs that dizzy\crazy weird feel you get sometimes on some drugs – that’s what Antabuse did for my consciousness. Which in a way was nice because I could feel like some stimulation instead of the alcohol if that makes sense. So I had been taking 125mg of Antabuse daily for 7 days. I started taking the 250mg Antabuse on a Sunday. I felt weird all that week, terrible headache, dizzy, Deja vu. On Wednesday I had just come from my psychatrist office where I told her I felt pretty spacey and had a horrible headache. I drove to my second job at a funeral home where I work as a receptionist. I had worked earlier in the day at another high stress job. I started relaxing at my last stop of the day, chatting with a co-worker ******¥****** this is how she describes it: “:-) glad you are feeling better- well, first we were just talking about cremation & then you started throwing your head back (kinda like a lizard trying to catch a fly- like you were trying to catch something w your mouth) & I thought maybe you had a nervous tick or something so I wasn’t going to like point it out ya know; some people have those & can’t help it. But then you started whaling your arms around on the ground & then you fell onto the ground, hit your head & then started convulsing a tad, but your hands weren’t gripped nor were you really having what it looked like a “serious” seizure. You had some foam coming outta your mouth. I called 911 right away bc it was just you & me & they were like what’s the address & im like I don’t fucking know! Just get here! Then Heather walks in! Yay! So she takes the phone & talked to 911 & I rolled you on your side.” All the doctors agree it was likely caused by the Antabuse. I must have a low seizure threshold. Something cause me to have a grand mal in 2008. The thing that sucks the most right now is that my job requires I drive. But. Because I had a seizure without warning I can drive for 3 months till I’m seizure free. So I’ve lots my job thanks to my efforts to save it.

Steff
1:12 pm March 30th, 2016

I’ve been on Antabuse for 3 months and attending a drug and alcohol clinic for a year. Thinking of coming off antabuse and discharging myself from this service now, just don’t feel like I need it anymore. Does anyone have any comments to help me with this decision?

John
4:35 pm March 30th, 2016

3 months sober on Antabuse, no side effects. so glad a decided to go on it after years of trying everything else. I go to the chemist everyday to take it. If I don’t turn up they ring, in this order, me, my wife and then my psych!

I did take it previously at home but ended up playing around with taking it (as you would if your an addict)

Good luck to everyone on their journey to sobriety, I’m so grateful to be back in my families life. If you can beat alcohol you can cope with whatever life throws at you.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:40 pm March 31st, 2016

Hi John. I’m really glad that you made it! Hope others will find your comment inspirational and try their best to end up addiction. All the best!

Pratap
2:21 pm April 4th, 2016

I am a Software Engineer living in Mumbai. I have disulfiram implants in my body 2 years ago. After that I am living a very healthy life. I am married now. Its now I wish to continue to consume alcohol at a social level with friends and family. But I cannot do so because of the implants. Now I feel that implanting antabuse was a wrong decision and want to get rid of it. Can you please tell me whether can I remove these tablets from my body by surgery or any other means by which I can eliminiate them from my body. I would be grateful to you for your support.

Regards,
Pratap

amit
2:25 pm April 5th, 2016

10 days before i used antabuse. can you suggest me any test which shows the antabuse is still in my system. i want to check current status of antabuse in my body.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:22 pm April 7th, 2016

Hi Pratap. I’d advise you to speak with a doctor about removing disulfiram implants, and it seems that you may need to get some surgery.

Jan
7:01 pm April 24th, 2016

Hello, what is the reason of using antabus and having diabetes mellitus?

Stephan
2:56 am April 30th, 2016

Hi all,

I took 250 mg of an Antabuse for 1 month. I stopped 8 days ago, and was wanting to have a glass of wine with dinner tonight. Do you think it’s safe? Thanks!

Melissa
4:23 pm May 24th, 2016

My husband has been taking antabuse for a little over a month. He was on rehab for a month before that. Now he’s saying that the doctor wants him to take antabuse on 30 days cycles because according to him the medication is hurting his liver and it’s making him allergic to certain foods. So he’s getting off for a month, and then re-starting next month. Is this normal? He’s been doing so well on this medication, thou the cravings are still there. I don’t want him to use this month off the medication as a passport to start drinking again. It just doesn’t sound like a good idea to completely be off.

Allen
6:45 am July 12th, 2016

Hey all. I am not sure what to post. I apologize if this sounds incorrect. But it seems a lot of questions are about ” when can I drink again” I’m feel. But your not on Antabuse to drink again. Like me I assume, you got there for a reason. I can tell you from experience on two fronts; medically every drug responds differently to each individual. If you take a comment off a forum and run with it, flip a coin and deal with results I guess.
A better place is know yourself and your body and surrounding results. I really know the situation is hard on us, family, spouses, etc.
I’m hard headed so had to try the drink on the drug just to see results. Won’t share them, as stated above everyone responds different so no offer to take advice from me.
I just know since I’ve stopped drinking my body feels much better. My mind is clearer. My love for life and the people in it are so much more sober. My energy is 10x.

Look, you know if it’s healthy for you and your life (alcohol, not antibuse ). We are first and foremost or we can’t even fully support ourselves or the important lives connected to ours.

The body is pretty resilient, but we can’t see the inside and the damage we can cause it till its to late.

My experience is it takes us to want to be sober. A little is hard not to make more. And if the concern is wanting to have ” social drinks” I can tell you my most pushy friends it had seemed in past to party and hang, have been my best supporters of my sobriety. If they push you out of comfort, realize it’s your life and health and make smart decisions. I hang with drinkers and others, doesn’t impact me anymore and the respect and love is still there, and more in areas I had previously affected. Actually, I get more love and respect being upfront and honest about my situation and it’s been better for it.

Anyway, good luck to you all and I hope all goes the best for all of us.

Orion
4:00 am August 8th, 2016

I am having itching and redness all over my body since last 3 days and it triggers the moment I have alcohol which never happened previously. I have read about Antabuse can it be that without my knowledge I have been given this Antabuse.
Rgds

akhumzi
1:21 pm September 16th, 2016

Can I take alcohol after 24hours of taking the pill?

Melv
9:00 am October 30th, 2016

Why bother taking antabuse if you still want to drink? madness.
I’ve been drinking heavely for 30 years, spent 6 months in rehab but still relapse.
I stay sober for a while then on the spur of the moment decide too have a couple of pints.
Suddenly a month as gone by and I’m sitting at home with a bottle of vodka.
I’ve recently started antabuse thinking if I just didnt take it one day I could have a drink, so thought it was a waste of time.
Now I know it stays in your system for up to 2 weeks it stops that spur of the moment drink.
Brilliant for me.
But if your going to carry on drinking why bother?

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