Antabuse is an alcohol deterrent medication that is used in the treatment of alcoholism. Its main ingredient, is disulfiram, which causes unpleasant effects when even small amounts of alcohol are consumed. However, Antabuse is not for everyone!
Continue reading here to learn more about the use, how is Antabuse supplied and who can prescribe it. If you have any questions after reading the text, we invite you to ask questions and share comments at the end of the page.
Why get a prescription for Antabuse?
Antabuse is effective in treating alcohol use disorders, especially when you receive adequate follow up and supplementary care. Antabuse is most effective for people who have undergone detoxification or are in the initiation stage of abstinence, especially when they are committed to abstinence. Disulfiram may not reduce the urge to drink alcohol. However, it may assist in motivating the patient not to drink. As with other medications, general efficacy also increases when disulfiram is administered in conjunction with intensive behavioral interventions.
Who prescribes Antabuse?
Medical doctors prescribe Antabuse. Keep in mind that there are some restrictions to using Antabuse. For example, Antabuse should never be used in a state of alcohol intoxication or without your full knowledge. Further Antabuse has no addiction liability. This means that is causes no euphoric effect, and cannot be used to get high.
Getting Antabuse: Where to start?
There are a few recommended steps to follow as you seek a prescription for Antabuse. This is because Antabuse is not recommended for everyone. So, what are the steps to getting a prescription for Antabuse?
STEP 1: Learn about the drug and its effects.
Antabuse has some central nervous system effects. Specifically, the disulfiram found in Antabuse inhibits the enzyme “dopamine β-hydroxylase” and affects serotonergic function. In this way, it disrupts the metabolism of alcohol, causing a severe reaction when patients mix disulfiram and alcohol. So, get educated about how Antabuse works so that you can evaluate whether or not it’s a good choice for you.
STEP 2: See your doctor to discuss.
Next, you’ll need to see your family doctor or an addiction specialist to talk about your interest in Antabuse. Disulfiram may be effective in the treatment of alcoholism when combined with psychosocial treatment. However, you’ll need to have an open discussion with a medical professional to talk about its side effects and efficacy rates.
Antabuse can help prevent drinking, but is most successful when you are committed to maintaining abstinence. Talk openly about your personal goals as they apply to drinking problems. It’s also important that you discuss your “end game” and lay out dosing periods that are realistic. When you agree to take the medication, and do not have contraindications to disulfiram, Antabuse can work to help prevent you from drinking…because the side effects of doing so can be very uncomfortable.
STEP 3: Review your medical history and alcoholism diagnosis.
People with severely impaired judgment or who are highly impulsive from a severe mental illness or cognitive impairment may be inappropriate candidates for treatment with Antabuse. This this reason, doctors need to complete a medical and psychiatric history before you can get Antabuse.
Before s/he writes a prescription for Antabuse, your doctor will need to perform a physical exam, baseline liver and kidney function tests, and a pregnancy test for women. Electrocardiogram may also be necessary if you have a history of heart disease. S/He will also need to determine whether or not allergies to disulfiram or other drugs are present and if you are currently taking prescription and nonprescription medications, including vitamins.
STEP 4: Try it out over an agreed period of time.
Getting Antabuse isn’t about seeking and securing a one-time prescription. This medication is best used when you work with your prescribing doctor over time. Furthermore, Antabuse can stay in your system for up to two (2) weeks after last regular dose. So, be prepared to try the medicine for at least 3 months, although your doctor may recommend that you stay on the medication for a year or longer if the treatment is working. You should also know that this drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
STEP 5: Report back side effects to your doctor.
Medication related reactions may occur for up to 2 weeks after you stop taking Antabuse. And these symptoms are not comfortable at all. Be sure to record and report all negative or sever side effects of Antabuse to your doctor and work to achieve an optimal dosing regimen.
How is Antabuse supplied?
So, what form does Antabuse usually take?
Each Antabuse tablet is intended for oral administration and contains 250 mg or 500 mg disulfiram, USP. Tablets also contain colloidal silicon dioxide, lactose anhydrous, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, and stearic acid. Disulfiram itself occurs as a white to off-white, odorless, and almost tasteless powder, soluble in water to the extent of about 20 mg in 100 mL, and in alcohol to the extent of about 3.8 g in 100 mL.
How do you take Antabuse?
The average maintenance dose of Antabuse is in the range of ~250 mg daily (125-500 mg) and should not exceed 500 mg daily. In the first phase of treatment, a maximum of 500 mg daily is given in a single dose for one to two weeks. Although usually taken in the morning, disulfiram may be taken right before you sleep if you experience a sedative effect. Alternatively, to minimize, or eliminate, the sedative effect, dosage may be adjusted downward.
The daily, uninterrupted administration of Antabuse is usually continued until you are fully recovered socially from problem drinking and have established a basis for permanent self-control. Depending on the individual, maintenance therapy may be required for months or even years.
Note: Occasionally people report that they are able to drink alcoholic beverages without any symptoms. In these cases, it is unlikely that disulfiram is ineffective. Rather, it’s possible that regular dosing does not occur.
Before you get Antabuse: Doctor-Patient information
Before taking Antabuse, you’ll need to verify a few key requirements. While mentioned about, we’ll repeat them here in a checklist. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if:
- You are allergic to disulfiram or any other drugs.
- What prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially amitriptyline (Elavil), anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin), isoniazid, metronidazole (Flagyl), phenytoin (Dilantin), any nonprescription drugs that might contain alcohol
- What vitamins you are taking
- If you have or have ever had diabetes, thyroid disease, epilepsy, brain damage, or kidney or liver disease
- If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking disulfiram.
Getting Antabuse questions
Are you considering taking Antabuse to help you prevent drinking too much? Does someone you love need help for a drinking problem? If you have any further questions let us know! We try to answer each legitimate inquiry with a personal and prompt response.