Is disulfiram addictive?

NO. Disulfiram is not addictive. On the contrary, disulfiram is a medication used to treat chronic alcoholism. We review more about disulfiram here.

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NO. Disulfiram has no addictive properties.

In fact, it’s prescribed and useful as a drinking deterrent. While there is no one pill that can cure alcoholism, disulfiram can assist recovery in many ways. But what is disulfiram, exactly? How does it work?

We address these questions here. If you are left with any additional questions at the end, you can post your comments in the section at the end of the page. We try to provide a personal and prompt response to all legitimate inquiries.

What is disulfiram used for?

Disulfiram is a deterrent to drinking used in the treatment of alcoholism. It is a FDA-approved medication for the treatment of chronic alcohol dependence. It works by causing unpleasant physical side effects whenever you drink… even a small amount of alcohol. There are numerous effects produced by the disulfiram-alcohol reaction, and some of them include:

  • a drop in blood pressure
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • flushing of face
  • hyperventilation
  • increased heart rate
  • irregular and shallow breathing
  • intense headaches
  • nausea
  • profuse sweating
  • vomiting

These effects occur very quickly, within 10 minutes of consuming alcohol and may last for anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Because the symptoms are so adverse and last for so long, most people choose to stay away from alcohol. Thus, the deterrent effect. Additionally, disulfiram length of time in the body has been recorded up to 2 weeks after the last pill was taken; the same symptoms can be triggered if a person drinks within that period.

What is disulfiram made of?

Disulfiram is not a controlled substance. It is the active ingredient in brand medications such as, Antabuse, Abstensil, Alcophobim, Anthetyl, Aversan, or Thiosan. The chemical name of disulfiram is bis(diethylthiocarbamoyl) disulfide. The substance is a white to white-off powder, without any odor and almost tasteless. This medication is for oral use only, taken once daily, usually in the morning. The dosage is based on the patients needs and medical condition, but the maximum daily dose is 500mg.

Disulfiram treatment for alcoholism: How it works

An effective treatment used by those who are eligible, disulfiram has no addictive liability and disulfiram does not get you high. In fact, disulfiram is a FDA-approved medication. When mixed with alcohol, it causes acutely toxic physical side effects. But how exactly does this happen?

When disulfiram is absorbed, it interferes with the natural metabolic process of alcohol and makes it impossible for ethanol to break down any further than acetaldehyde. When a person who is taking disulfiram drinks alcohol, then acetaldehyde is accumulated in the blood system and it produces the adverse reactions.

During disulfiram treatment, it is important to avoid all sources of alcohol and alcohol-containing products because they can also induce the disulfiram-ethanol reaction. Our advice is to always read the labels on your food, beverages, hygiene products and medicines. Here are some products that may contain alcohol:

  • aftershaves
  • certain desserts
  • cough and cold syrups
  • mouthwash
  • perfumes
  • sauces
  • some medicines
  • vinegars

Note here that for best results, disulfiram treatment should be used along with talk-based psychotherapy, group sessions, psychiatric counseling, educational and behavioral treatment and adequate recovery support for best success in sobriety. Disulfiram can be used if you have already unsuccessfully attempted to quit drinking in the past or if you are currently trying to achieve abstinence but you are concerned about relapsing. This medication can help people who have stopped drinking for at least 12 hours, to remain completely alcohol-free.

Disulfiram use for alcohol addiction questions

Disulfiram has been proven effective and has already assisted many people in recovery. The psychology behind this medication is simple, it increases the number of sober days by making the option of drinking not a pleasant one. More importantly, it gives people the time to work on their recovery.

If you have any questions regarding disulfiram or you’d like to add something to the subject, please do. We welcome your comments in the section below and we try to answer personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice: Chapter 3-Disulfiram
MedSafe: Antabuse (disulfiram) Tablets – Data Sheet
DailyMed: Antabuse-disulfiram tablet
FDA: Disulfiram Tablets
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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