April 3, 2024

Antabuse: Side Effects, Dosage, & Uses

an image of someone who got antabuse treatment

Disulfiram, marketed as Antabuse, acts as a deterrent in the management of alcohol addiction by triggering adverse reactions when someone using the medication consumes alcohol. Disulfiram was the first medication to gain FDA approval for the management of alcohol addiction. 

What Is Antabuse?

Antabuse is a branded formulation of disulfiram, a medication used to support the treatment of severe alcohol use disorder that’s approved by FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

Antabuse medication works by stunting the body’s ability to process alcohol. Normally, when someone consumes alcohol, it’s metabolized into acetaldehyde, and subsequently into acetic acid. Antabuse disrupts this process by preventing the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetic acid, leading to a build-up of acetaldehyde in the system, and provoking toxic effects which discourage alcohol consumption. 

If someone taking Antabuse medicine consumes alcohol, they quickly experience uncomfortable side effects like headaches, flushing, nausea, and vomiting. These reactions should inhibit the person from continuing to drink alcohol. 

Antabuse is most effective when it’s used as one component of a broad-based treatment plan that includes counseling, behavioral therapies, and other supportive measures. While Antabuse can help a person remain abstinent, it should not be considered a cure for alcoholism. The primary goal of Antabuse treatment is to help individuals remain abstinent from alcohol while addressing the issues underpinning their alcohol addictions through counseling or other therapeutic interventions.

Antabuse Side Effects

Side effects of Antabuse can be triggered by even small amounts of alcohol. They may include:

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Physical weakness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Low blood pressure

Up to 95% of disulfiram is slowly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract before it’s distributed throughout the body. The unabsorbed amount is excreted from the body. Antabuse is characterized by its slow elimination half-life – it has the potential to remain in the system for up to two weeks. This means that consuming alcohol during this timeframe can still bring about unpleasant reactions.

Antabuse Dosage

Antabuse should be taken once daily in oral form. Tablets come in dosages of 250mg or 500mg. 500mg per day is the highest recommended dosage.

Avoid taking disulfiram for at least 12 hours after consuming alcohol. Inform your treatment provider about all medications you’re using, as some may contain traces of alcohol.

Antabuse Uses

Antabuse is used as part of a treatment program for chronic alcohol use disorder.

Indirectly, Antabuse may also help those with co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). By preventing alcohol consumption, individuals have a more stable platform from which to address both the alcohol addiction and mental health condition simultaneously.

Antabuse Warnings

Avoid Antabuse if you have consumed alcohol in the previous 12 hours. While on disulfiram, and for two weeks after taking the medication, alcohol should be strictly avoided.

Don’t take the medication if you have ingested products like cough syrup, cooking wine, vinegar, or mouthwash.

Antabuse is unsuitable for those who:

  • Have consumed alcohol, even in food or products
  • Suffer from severe heart disease
  • Have a diagnosis of psychosis
  • Have recently used Flagyl (metronidazole) or paraldehyde

Speak with your physician if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Liver or kidney issues
  • Heart disease
  • Hypotension
  • Stroke history
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • History of head injuries
  • Mental health conditions

FAQs

How does Antabuse work?

Antabuse (disulfiram) works by interfering with the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol, triggering unpleasant reactions like flushing, palpitations, and nausea if alcohol is consumed. This reaction helps to deter people from drinking.

How long does Antabuse last?

The effects of Antabuse can last for up to two weeks. This is because disulfiram remains in the body for a considerable length of time, continuing to affect the way in which alcohol is processed and maintaining its effect against consumption.

an image of Gratitude Lodge

Get Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

Alcohol addiction can be aggravating and disruptive, but it’s also highly treatable. Reach out to Gratitude Lodge for effective and compassionate medication-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder.

Medications can help reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and mitigate cravings during supervised detox at one of our luxury rehabs in Long Beach or Newport Beach, CA. After a week or so, you can transition to our inpatient program having addressed the issue of physical dependence.

All alcohol addictions are unique, so our treatment plans reflect this. Expect to access a personalized mix of the following therapies:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Psychotherapies
  • Motivational therapies
  • Holistic treatments
  • Family therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Aftercare planning

Call Gratitude Lodge at 800-994-2184 for effective and compassionate medication-assisted treatment of alcohol addiction.

Want to learn more?

Recent Articles

Begin your journey
to recovery.

Get evidence-based treatment in a peaceful location, with a
team of dedicated, expert staff. 
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Email
Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.

Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
people sit in treatment session representing what do you do in rehab

Psychotherapy

An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
doctor appointment representing how long is inpatient fentanyl rehab

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.

Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
people holding hands in a circle representing Same-day admission rehab for fentanyl

Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
group of friends celebrating representing Dealing with a drug addict

Inpatient
Treatment

Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.

Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.