What is Disulfiram? Disulfiram is an organic sulfur compound sold under the trade name of Antabuse, which, when taken, creates thoroughly unpleasant physiological side effects upon the consumption of alcohol. It has been used since 1948 to combat alcoholism by discouraging the user through the negative effects of mixing Disulfiram and alcohol.
These effects are produced by Disulfiram’s ability to create an acute sensitivity to ethanol. Disulfiram comes in tablet form which is introduced through the mouth and ingested. The tablets are white or off white, and dissolve in water and alcohol
What is Disulfiram classified as? It is not on any FDA control list. Disulfiram treatment is prescribed as a treatment for alcoholism. The drug was the first medication to be approved by the FDA to treat chronic alcohol dependence. A patient can only obtain a prescription for Disulfiram from a physician. Because of Disulfiram’s propensity to make the individual feel particularly negative in conjunction with alcohol, which might thus discourage the positive effects of the drug – the treatment of the patient’s alcoholism – Disulfiram and drug rehab should be paired together.
History and Trends
What is Disulfiram’s origin? A Berlin chemist named M. Grodzki synthesized Disulfiram for the first time but to little fanfare. It was not until twenty years later that Disulfiram found commercial success, in the rubber industry. It was there in the rubber industry that Disulfiram was found to be a deterrent against alcohol. In 1937, E.E. Williams noted that workers in his rubber plant could not ingest alcohol after work without complaining of discomfort. In the 1940’s Disulfiram was sought as a treatment for scabies and intestinal worms.
Thus, as in the rubber plants of America, Disulfiram’s properties of alcohol aversion were discovered when Dr. Erik Jacobson ingested Disulfiram before a cocktail party. Dr. Jacobson believed the drug to treat intestinal worms, and because the drug was still experimental, he wanted to test it on himself. But it was there at the party that Dr. Jacobson discovered that he could not stomach alcohol! The pace of his heartbeat quickened and his face flushed. And this is how scientists discovered what Disulfiram when mixed with alcohol is.
As such, Disulfiram was marketed as a means to facilitate the treatment of alcoholism under the trade name Antabuse (see, Anti-Abuse). Disulfiram has found success with alcoholics. It is believed however that the drug alone cannot be used alone. Rather, counseling must be used in conjunction with Disulfiram treatment.
Side Effects of Disulfiram
The most common side effects of Disulfiram, without the introduction of alcohol, are drowsiness and the taste of flint-lock. If ever there is distress when breathing after taking Disulfiram, call your prescribing physician immediately.
Common side effects of Disulfiram include:
- A metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth
- Skin rash
Use of Disulfiram does not produce tolerance. Disulfiram therapy may last months or years, depending on the patient. There are no withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug. If a patient successfully completes therapy with Disulfiram but fears relapse, it is a safe precaution to begin using the drug again.
Recommended Use of Disulfiram
Disulfiram should be taken once a day. Dosages range from 250 mg tablets to 500 mg tablets. No more than 500 mg should ever be prescribed. The tablets can be ground and added to liquids (that do not contain alcohol) and drunk. Disulfiram does not affect the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Rather, it creates what is called the disulfiram-alcohol reaction, which increases the acetaldehyde concentration in the blood stream by five to ten times the amount that would be without Disulfiram. This reaction is caused by the drug’s preventing the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase from changing the acetaldehyde into acetic acid, which would then have been filtered from the blood and removed from the body. The result of the disulfiram-alcohol reaction is the feeling that is generally described as ‘queasy’ and ill.
Things to Avoid When Using Disulfiram
Products made with alcohol should be avoided by the patient when using Disulfiram. If any food or drink with small amounts of alcohol are ingested the patient will feel discomfort, nausea, difficulty in breathing, and general illness.
Self-medicating one-self with Disulfiram should be avoided. It is best to follow the prescribed amount of dosage of Disulfiram and drug rehab while being monitored during the process. Total abstinence should be the goal.
If you or your loved one is has a disulfiram addiction, then get help. Call White Sands Tampa today at 1-877-640-7820.