Disulfiram (Antabuse)


Alcohol-abuse deterrent—



Alcoholism (treatment)—Disulfiram is used to help maintain sobriety in the treatment of chronic alcoholism in conjunction with supportive and psychotherapeutic measures.

Mechanism of action/Effect:

Produces irreversible inhibition of the enzyme responsible for oxidation of the ethanol metabolite acetaldehyde. {01} {28} The resultant accumulation of acetaldehyde may be responsible for most of the signs and symptoms occurring after ethanol ingestion in disulfiram-treated patients. {01} {28} The hypotensive response may be due to inhibition of norepinephrine synthesis by the major disulfiram metabolite diethyldithiocarbamate.

Even small amounts of alcohol can produce unpleasant symptoms while Antabuse is in your body. These symptoms include:

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • sweating, increased thirst, swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • nausea, severe vomiting;
  • neck pain, throbbing headache, blurred vision;
  • chest pain, shortness of breath (even with mild exertion);
  • fast or pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
  • confusion, weakness, spinning sensation, feeling unsteady; or
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.

More severe symptoms may occur when Antabuse and large amounts of alcohol are used together, such as severe chest pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, slow heart rate, weak pulse, seizure, fainting, weak or shallow breathing, or slow breathing (breathing may stop). A disulfiram-alcohol reaction can be fatal.




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