Can you get high on Antabuse?

No, you cannot get high on Antabuse. In fact, Antabuse has no euphoric effect. For more details on Antabuse’s mechanism of action, continue reading here.

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No. Antabuse produces absolutely no euphoric effects.

You can’t get high on Antabuse. Moreover, most people probably won’t feel any physical or psychological effects of this medication – unless they drink alcohol, in which case unpleasant symptoms of nausea and vomiting manifest. When used as a part of a long-term addiction treatment and therapy program that includes psychotherapy and support groups, Antabuse can help you stop drinking for good. More on Antabuse and its mechanism of action here, with an invitation for your questions about how long Antabuse stays in your system at the end.

Antabuse chemistry and use: What’s in Antabuse?

Antabuse is a trade name for disulfiram, an organic sulfur compound also known as tetraethylthiuram disulfide. It’s drug that produces an acute sensitivity to alcohol and is thus used in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. In sum, it makes you incredibly sick if you take it and then drink alcohol. In more recent years, scientists are doing much research on the therapeutic properties of disulfiram, since it appears to have a significant potential in the treatment of human cancers, certain drug-resistant fungal infections, and in the treatment of cocaine addiction too.

Antabuse and central nervous system effects

Antabuse contains disulfiram as its active ingredient. Disulfiram inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase and after ingestion of alcohol causes the disulfiram-ethanol reaction.  It is a relatively nontoxic substance when administered alone, but markedly alters the intermediary metabolism of alcohol. When alcohol is ingested after administration of disulfiram, blood acetaldehyde concentrations are increased, followed by:

  • dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure
  • flushing
  • nausea
  • respiratory difficulties

However, in certain populations, disulfiram taken on it’s own also appears to produce adverse effects on the Central Nervous System (CSN). The disulfiram from Antabuse and its metabolite carbon disulfide inhibit dopamine beta-hydrolaxe, increasing the levels of dopamine and reducing the levels of norepinephrine in the CNS. These reactions have been observed in patients who took too much disulfiram, patients who are already suffering from major psychiatric illness, and in patients with anatomical brain lesions.

Mixing Antabuse with alcohol

Antabuse is prescribed to recovering alcoholics to help them abstain from drinking alcohol. Basically, it works by interfering with alcohol metabolism in the body. This means that when alcohol is consumed, the body cannot process it normally and acetaldehyde builds up in the bloodstream. When the acetaldehyde blood levels get high, the heart and blood vessels are directly influenced, and the following side-effects can be experienced:

  • dizziness
  • flushing
  • heart palpitations
  • irregular and shallow respiration
  • low blood pressure
  • nausea
  • pounding headaches
  • racing heartbeat
  • vomiting

Mixing Antabuse with other substances

Before prescribing Antabuse, your doctor should be informed and aware of all other prescription or nonprescription/herbal medications you may be taking, to avoid any possible drug interactions. Antabuse should not be used with alcohol containing products such as cough and cold syrups, metronidazole, amitriptyline (warfarin), seizure medications including phenytoin or fosphenytoin, isoniazid, theophylline.

Getting high on Antabuse

Patients taking Antabuse cannot get high on the medication, simply because it does not produce any euphoric effects. It also isn’t a habit-forming, addictive substance and does not appear as a scheduled drug in the Controlled Substances Act.

Questions about Antabuse

Are you considering quitting alcohol and you think Antabuse may be helpful? Or does someone you love need help for a drinking problem?

If you have any further questions you’d like to ask, please post them in the comments section at the end of the page. We try to answer each legitimate enquiry with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: PubChem: Disulfiram
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign: From disulfiram to Antabuse: The invention of a drug
Medline Plus: Disulfiram
NCBI: Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice: Chapter 3-Disulfiram
MedSafe: Antabuse (disulfiram) tablets – Data Sheet
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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