Disulfiram Antabuse for Alcoholism
Disulfiram based implant Esperal recently became #1 method of treatment in alcohol addiction clinic. Disulfiram is the drug that was discovered in the 1920s and has been used since 1951 to cure chronic alcoholism due to the ability of the drug to increase immune system’s sensitivity to alcohol. Disulfiram is the drug that prevents a release of body enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. The inhibition of this enzyme causes severe problem, discomfort and in some rear cases even health hazards to humans. This discomfort and an unpleasant physical reaction are caused by a substance known as acetaldehyde that builds up in the body due to alcohol consumption which was not broken down or metabolized by the relevant enzyme dehydrogenase in a liver. Disulfiram’s brand name is Antabuse. Disulfiram and Antabuse have been found to be very effective in causing a severe brutal reaction if an individual takes it with alcohol, but many argued that it is not safe to be called a cure for alcoholism. The reaction of this drug is spontaneous and efficient because even a single bottle of beer or a cup of wine or a shot of hard liquor is enough to initiate so-called Disulfiram-Ethanol Reaction (DER), which is accompanied by the cruelest symptoms: seizures, Racing heart, heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, dizziness, tinnitus, severe body aches, fear of death, flushing of the skin, syncope, mental confusion, visual disturbance, etc. It should be noted that whenever the drug is taken, it stays in the body for up to two weeks and cause this effects when alcohol is taken within the time frame. The “unpleasant” reactions caused by Antabuse / Disulfiram are however not the same for everyone and they vary, depending on gender, body weight, physical status, medical history, some genetic conditions, etc. In this article, I will discuss in details, how to take Antabuse and the side effects of this medicine.
How to take Antabuse / Disulfiram?
Basically, your desire to start taking Antabuse is due to the fact that you want to completely stop alcohol consumption after you might have failed to do so relying on your will, desire and determination. Before starting Disulfiram treatment, you must visit your physician to inform him/her and take in consideration all professional advice seriously. However, you must know that Antabuse is a drug that goes against any form of alcohol or ethanol in your body system, by causing reactions that are cruelly “unpleasant”. This means you must always be cautious of anything you take as food or drink. Some foods or drinks contain alcohol in small percent and such is not the good for you if you want to prevent being down with dizziness or any reactions caused by Disulfiram or Antabuse. Even some drugs including cough syrups and cold formulas contain alcohol and may lead to Disulfiram Ethanol Reaction. Be sure to stay away from some common ethanol-containing products: mouthwash, perfumes, colognes, even vinegar, aftershave, antiperspirant, antiseptic astringent skin products, hair dyes, and similar because they often contain alcohol. However, Antabuse is good enough to solve your alcoholism problem if taken as prescribed by doctors.
Side Effects of Antabuse
All pharmaceutical drugs, including Disulfiram or Antabuse, have a long list of side effects. In order to achieve an alcohol-free state of life, you have to be aware of possible side effects of Disulfiram.
- Antabuse can cause weakness or tiredness especially during the first few weeks of its intake.
- Antabuse can also lead to changes in a mouth in the form of a swollen tongue, causing metallic or garlic-like taste, especially within the first few months of intake.
- Antabuse may flair up skin rash or acne.
- There are known cases when Antabuse leads to erectile dysfunction.
- If taking for a long time Antabuse can cause damage to a patient’s liver. This is the most common and significant side effect of Disulfiram. With the intake of Antabuse, about five people out of 1000 develop severe liver damage.
- Kidneys’ failure is another severe side effect of the drug.
The major side effects of Disulfiram are liver and kidneys damage especially if a patient had relevant medical conditions in the past. Kindly inform your doctor about your medical history before taking Disulfiram. You may be prevented from taking Antabuse if you have a significant medical history of heart or coronary vessels disease, diabetes, an underactive thyroid, brain disorders (e.g., seizures, brain damage), chronic kidney and liver diseases, a history of severe depression, a history of bipolar psychosis, or a history of suicide attempts. Disulfiram, the active ingredient of Antabuse can alter the metabolism and blood levels of certain drugs, especially tricyclic antidepressants, Dilantin (phenytoin), Coumadin, isoniazid, and theophylline.
The pros of using Disulfiram pills is the strength of the Disulfiram-Ethanol Reaction.
The cons are:
- If patient decided to consume alcohol, he/she may skip daily pill of Disulfiram;
- Disulfiram taken on a daily basis toxifies patient’s body and may cause permanent damage to the internal organs and systems.
Disulfiram based Esperal Implant
The newest and most effective form of Disulfiram is Esperal Implant developed by the French corporation Esperal in partnership with German needleless syringe company Ejex and iKare Corporation. In reality, Esperal is a microchip, connected to a small dosator, that contains 5 micro crystals of Disulfiram. The microchip tests blood for alcohol level. If alcohol level is within normal limits nothing happens. If, however, the concentration of alcohol raises above 0.099, Esperal drops 1 crystal of pure Disulfiram from the container, and the DER starts. Esperal Implant lasts for up to five years and after that gets calcified by the surrounding tissues and becomes inactive.
In conclusion, you can be sure of the effectiveness of Antabuse as a drug meant to stop alcoholism. It works well and if taken based on doctor’s description, it portends no danger for patients as long as administered by experienced professional. Living a life as an alcoholic is dangerous as it can cause chronic illnesses and death.