There is a number of prescription drugs used to help alcoholics withdraw and stay away from drinking permanently. One of them is known as Antabuse. For purposes of clarification, Antabuse is a brand name; the drug itself is clinically known as disulfiram. It is a drug designed to deter alcohol use while users are going through detox or participating in a rehab programme.
Antabuse is available in tablet form by prescription only. Your GP may recommend it to you if you have been diagnosed as an alcoholic or an alcohol abuser. However, you must be committed to complete abstinence before this drug will do you any good.
Effective Use of Antabuse
Antabuse is most often used by individuals trying to achieve sobriety through alcohol detox. The adverse effects experienced while taking it can often encourage individuals to avoid alcohol. However, it must be considered that in cases where a severe alcohol addiction is present, the person will often drink despite these effects. For those with no experience of addiction, that may be hard to believe, but that is the nature of addiction; the person will drink no matter the cost. The other thing to consider is that the effectiveness of Antabuse depends on the person taking it; if they miss a dosage, they will soon be able to drink without any concerns.
It is sometimes possible for a person to have an Antabuse implant, which takes away the concerns around missing a dosage; however, this again does not account for the psychological side of the addiction and so would not be a solution to alcohol addiction. The psychological aspect of addiction is often one that is neglected, but it is equally as important as the physical side. Taking away the substance but not dealing with the underlying reasons behind the addiction will nearly always result in relapse. It is important that the person learns to understand the addiction, to identify their triggers and to develop coping strategies.
How Antabuse Works
Antabuse is classified as an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor – a drug that prevents the body from processing alcohol normally by inhibiting aldehyde dehydrogenase. This makes drinking alcohol extremely unpleasant.
Since the drug prevents the normal processing of alcohol, any alcohol consumed does not get broken down into its multiple components. That means the pure alcohol is able to work its effects on the body almost instantly. Within minutes of drinking, a recovering alcoholic on Antabuse will experience an intense hangover, with all of the common symptoms associated with it. It could very well be the most severe hangover the individual has ever experienced.
The main point of using Antabuse to control alcohol consumption is one of deterrence. The idea is to make drinking so unpleasant as to motivate the individual to not even consider it. Nevertheless, sometimes an Antabuse prescription is not enough. In fact, the drug is most successful when combined with group support and alcoholism counselling.
Five Things You Need to Know about Antabuse
It is unfortunate, but many people believe Antabuse is a ‘magic pill’ that will help them stop drinking without any effort on their part. That is simply not true. Antabuse is a drug that can assist in the detox and rehab process, but only a wilful decision by the patient can end a drinking problem. With that said, there are five things you need to know about Antabuse:
- Clean Period (24 hours) – It is vitally important that your system is clean from alcohol for at least 24 hours before starting the medication. For this reason, a prescription is typically initiated in a clinic or hospital after an examination by a medical professional.
- Continued Abstinence – Next, it is also essential that you do not consume even a drop of alcohol while taking Antabuse. Doing so will immediately render the drug useless in reducing your alcohol cravings. What’s more, you probably will not be able to use the drug again in the future.
- Follow Instructions – You must take the drug according to the instructions given to you by your GP or other medical professional. A failure to follow those instructions could mean ultimate failure in your attempt to quit drinking. Antabuse is usually taken once per day, in the morning.
- Other Drugs – Before beginning an Antabuse regimen, you should truthfully inform your GP of any other drugs you are currently taking. This includes illicit, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs. Interactions with other drugs could present significant problems.
- Dosage – Following the instructions of your GP includes dosage. Never take more than what you are told to take. Furthermore, if you miss a dose, you can take the drug as soon as you remember – unless it is within 12 hours of your next scheduled dose. Otherwise, wait until the following morning.
Side Effects of Antabuse
Just about every drug has potentially unpleasant side effects that may be experienced by some people. This includes Antabuse. However, rest assured there is no guarantee they will affect you. The most common side effects related to Antabuse use are:
- Nausea and Vomiting – Some Antabuse users experience mild nausea or other stomach discomfort. In more pronounced cases, the patient may experience some amount of vomiting. Eating a simple and bland diet during the course of the medication often helps.
- Drowsiness and Fatigue – Drowsiness is a common side effect of Antabuse. Sometimes, fatigue can also set in. You should not do anything that requires total alertness while you are taking the drug.
- Other Side Effects – There are a number of less common side effects, including allergic reactions, decreased libido, halitosis and skin rashes. You should notify your GP right away if you experience any of them. While they are not likely serious, it never hurts to stay on top of things.
Before You Begin Taking Antabuse
Before you begin taking Antabuse, you should consult with a professional to determine the severity of your addiction. For example, you may be an alcohol abuser rather than an addict. There is a distinct difference. If you are an addict, you will need to undergo alcohol detox before you can begin taking the drug. Alcohol abusers will probably not need detox.
The point we are making here is that it is unwise to start taking the drug if it was prescribed for someone else. It is never a good idea to take someone else’s prescriptions, but the nature of alcohol dependence as it relates to Antabuse makes it even more risky to take an Antabuse prescription belonging to someone else.
If you believe you have an alcohol abuse or dependence problem, your best bet is to call Addiction Helper or see your GP. A professional is the most qualified to assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action. If it is determined that you are indeed an alcoholic, please do not attempt detox on your own. Detox is a potentially dangerous situation that should always be medically supervised.
Antabuse can be a useful supportive aid for an individual who has gone through a medicated detox and is receiving intensive psychological support, but it is important to remember that it should only ever be used as a backup, never as the primary method of treatment for alcohol addiction.
Addiction Helper counsellors are standing by to speak with you right now. They have the knowledge and expertise to not only answer your questions but also to assist you to find the help you need to overcome alcohol abuse or dependence. They will be able to recommend to you a private clinic, support group, charity, or NHS programme you can enrol in.
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