Antabuse (250 mg | 500 mg)
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Active Ingredient: Disulfiram

Antabuse is prescribed to heal chronic alcoholism. It works by interfering metabolism of alcohol. It can help patients with an alcohol abuse problem not to drink alcohol. When taken with alcohol, this medicine produces unpleasant effects.

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Dr. William Gilson Content Administrator Updated on: 24/04/2021

Disulfiram is an effective way to treat alcoholism. It has been widely used in Europe since the second half of the last century. It is suitable for the treatment of chronic forms of the disease and the prevention of relapses.

Alcoholism is an acute social problem that is relevant to most countries. According to who, alcohol addiction affects between 2 and 10% of the world's population. Addiction reduces people's quality of life and affects their work.

This is a real social disaster caused by long-term abuse of alcoholic beverages. Initially, a person develops mental and then physical dependence. It is only possible to overcome the harmful phenomenon by a combined approach.

One of the most common medications used in the treatment of alcohol dependence is Antabuse (Disulfiram).

Pharmacological effect

Under normal conditions, when ethanol enters the body, it is transformed into acetaldehyde, which becomes acetic acid and is excreted. Under the influence of the key active component of Antabuse, the process of converting acetaldehyde to acetic acid is stopped. In this regard, a significant amount of acetaldehyde is accumulated in the body. This substance can provoke nausea, vomiting, redness of the skin, and shortness of breath. In medicine, this phenomenon is known as the Antabuse reaction.

Antabuse USA & UK

Additional symptoms are increased sweating and decreased blood PRESSURE. Clinical manifestations of the reaction are pronounced. The consumption of products containing alcohol during the period of taking medication becomes almost impossible and even life-threatening. The effect of the resulting interaction begins a couple of minutes after drinking glass and lasts for many hours. At the same time, the person's state of health is terrible.

At the end of the course, the effect of the medication persists for a couple of weeks. The period may vary depending on the dosage and individual characteristics of the body.

Doctors prescribe Antabuse as a preventive method in the fight against cravings for alcoholic beverages. The drug is not able to influence the attraction of alcohol. But it can strengthen the patient's cause-and-effect relationship between the use of appropriate substances and poor health.

The body is not able to develop tolerance to the active ingredient of the drug. It is proved that the longer the drug is taken, the more pronounced its effect.

Indications for use

The oral form is prescribed to prevent relapses in the course of getting rid of alcoholism. If a person suffers from chronic addiction, it is advisable to introduce subcutaneous or intramuscular implants with a medicinal substance. In this case, the patient is notified of serious consequences, up to the onset of a comatose state, which may occur due to the abuse of alcohol-containing beverages.

In recent years, there has been information about studies of the effectiveness of Disulfiram in people who are dependent on psychoactive substances, in particular cocaine or opioids. Clinical research in this area has not yet been completed.

Method of use and dosage

It is necessary to start Antabuse when the human body is completely cleared of toxins. It is customary to start the treatment program 12 hours after the last use of alcoholic beverages. The patient must be notified about the beginning of medication therapy, as well as about the features of disulfiram-ethanol intoxication when they violate the regime.

The initial dosage reaches its maximum values within a few days. As for maintenance therapy, 100-200 mg/day or 400/800 mg twice a week is used. The course should be prescribed exclusively by the attending physician. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe tablets only if necessary (during holidays or on the occasion of special events).

The probability of achieving a positive result increases if the process is carried out under the control of a doctor or relatives. This is especially true in the initial stages.

In some cases, doctors enter into an "antabuse contract" with patients. According to this agreement, a person is obliged to continuously comply with medical prescriptions for six months. With irregular usage, the desired result will not be achieved.

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Form release

You can buy Antabuse over the counter in pharmacy chains in the form of effervescent tablets. They quickly dissolve in ½ Cup of clean water. The suspension is taken immediately after cooking in the morning. The medicine has a neutral taste.

Another form of medicine is available for sale – an implant. It contains 800 mg of the active element with a gradual release. The implant is sewn subcutaneously or intramuscularly into the left iliac region. This procedure can be repeated once every 8 months.

How the drug is treated?

Disulfiram is widely distributed almost all over the world. Despite the release of new pharmaceutical products, it remains one of the most prescribed and popular for alcoholism.

Basic techniques:

  • Conditioned reflex therapy. The patient is prescribed a long course of tablets. During this period, the doctor gives him up to 50 ml of alcohol and provokes the beginning of an Antabuse reaction. The procedure is repeated at intervals of several days. As a result, a person develops a negative reflex to alcoholic beverages.
  • «Coding». Introduction of a form of prolonged action by injection into the muscle or subcutaneously in the form of a tablet. A receipt is taken from the patient for his consent to completely give up alcohol while taking the pills. This method acts as a deterrent and preventive measure.
  • Application of an integrated approach. Effective at the initial stage. It allows you to ensure sobriety, and prevent violations of the abstinence regime.

As a rule, in an isolated form, the effect of Disulfiram is not too noticeable. Guaranteed remission is achieved with a combined approach to fighting addiction. For these purposes, psychotherapy, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, and other methods are prescribed simultaneously with medications.

Many people who can not without alcohol burden the use of these tablets. They are looking for a way to stop taking it and are looking forward to the end of the course prescribed by the doctor so that they can return to their favorite activity. Therefore, before inserting the implant or prescribing tablets, it is recommended to pre-undergo traditional treatment.

Contraindications to use

Due to the special specificity of the mechanism of action, the drug has a wide list of absolute and relative contraindications.

Disulfiram is strictly forbidden to prescribe for diseases:

  • Endocrine system;
  • Psyches;
  • Cardiosclerosis;
  • Vessels of the brain;
  • The cardiovascular system;
  • Tuberculosis of the lungs;
  • Atherosclerosis of the brain vessels;
  • Insufficiency of the coronary vessels;
  • Hypertension;
  • Bronchial asthma;
  • Emphysema of the lungs;
  • Pre-and post-stroke or infarct condition;
  • Peptic ulcer of the stomach;
  • Malignant tumors;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Polyneuritises.

The list of absolute contraindications also includes pregnancy and allergic reactions to Antabuse components. This list of diseases that are unfavorably combined with taking medication is not exhaustive.

It is also worth mentioning the list of relative contraindications:

  • Liver pathology;
  • Endarteritis;
  • Psychoses caused by taking Antabuse;
  • Kidney failure;
  • The residual phenomena of the organic defeat of a brain;
  • Age over 60 years;
  • Traumatic illness;

Since toxic effects on the fetus have been proven, reliable contraceptives must be used during therapy. When planning a pregnancy, it is recommended to cancel Disulfiram.

Constant qualified medical supervision is required. The dosage and duration are selected individually for each patient, taking into account their history. You can not change the dosage or duration of the course yourself. All decisions must be made after a consultation with the doctor.

Conducting disulfiram-alcohol tests is associated with the risk of vascular collapse, fainting, hypertensive crisis, and other dangerous conditions. Therefore, the use of Disulfiram to get rid of alcohol cravings requires a competent approach, extreme caution, and careful preliminary examination of patients.


It is strictly forbidden to give the patient Disulfiram covertly. Such an unwise decision can provoke disastrous consequences. When used simultaneously with alcohol-containing products, there is a high risk of serious damage to internal organs. In some cases, this combination can cause a person to die.

Antabuse without a doctor's prescription is not recommended. There are some strict indications for its purpose.

Unpleasant symptoms that occur when drinking strong drinks during the drug, continue throughout the entire time of the presence of alcohol in the body.

Disulfiram is not addictive. This allows you to continue therapy for a long time.

Many medicinal products interact with Antabuse. Therefore, during the consultation, it is necessary to inform the attending doctor about all medications and homeopathy.

Implantation is allowed only after the person has passed a traditional program that reduces cravings for alcohol. After the procedure, a small bump may be observed at the location of the implant. This phenomenon does not go beyond the norm.

During the treatment program, the patient should beware of all products that contain alcohol. Special attention should be paid to food, sweets, mouthwash, communion wine, cough syrup. Their simultaneous use with Disulfiram can provoke antabuse symptoms.

Relatives of some patients think that minor Antabuse manifestations can be useful and serve as proof of the effectiveness of the chosen method. It is not worth risking human health. After all, no one knows exactly how his body will react to such an experiment.

It is recommended to avoid alcohol-containing products intended for application to the mucous membranes or skin as much as possible. If possible, they should be replaced with other products. If their use is unavoidable, you should conduct a test: apply the product to a small area of skin. If there are no unpleasant symptoms within two hours, its operation is safe.

In the case of paresthesias in cardiac patients require immediate hospitalization to exclude thrombosis of the brain.



A single-use of more than 3 g of the drug product can provoke symptoms of overdose: nausea, a feeling of extreme fatigue, and apathy. More serious symptoms appear with a delay: impaired functioning of the speech apparatus and coordination, reduced mental abilities, comatose state, collapse.

In the case of overdose, symptomatic therapy in hospital conditions is indicated. At the same time are assigned to the detoxification activities.

Side effect

Since the drug has a specific mechanism of action, side effects occur quite often. At the beginning of therapy, there may be such phenomena as dry mouth, metallic taste, migraines, nausea, a feeling of heaviness in the liver, neuritis, and polyneuritis.

Significantly less common are allergic reactions, hepatitis, psychosis, or gastritis.

Drug analogs

Analogs are drugs with a similar composition and principle of action, but released by other manufacturers and under different names: Esperal (Sanofi-Aventis France, France; Afrimex industry Kimik e Farmacutica, Portugal).

  • Leavin (Laboratory Tradefair, France);
  • Antabus (ACTAVIS GROUP hf., Iceland);
  • Antabus (colme) (Faes Farma, Spain).

Their cost may vary depending on the form of release, manufacturer, and place of sale. You can buy the drug in specialized online pharmacies with the possibility of home delivery or pickup.

Application abroad

Disulfiram is included in the list of the most popular and effective means to get rid of alcohol addiction in Finland, the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world.

A team of specialists from Denmark, America, Canada, Switzerland, and Sweden studied the effects of Antabus in the treatment of alcoholism on cancer cells. It was assumed that this drug as part of a comprehensive approach can improve the prognosis of cancer.

Advantages and disadvantages

The drug has an extensive list of advantages that can include:

  • Significant experience in use since the 70s of the last century;
  • Effectiveness and reliability, proven by numerous clinical studies;
  • Almost 100% probability of an appropriate reaction when drinking alcohol. Therefore, the patient will strive to maintain sobriety throughout the entire period of treatment;
  • Availability. Sold in all pharmacy chains;
  • Trust of experienced psychiatrists-narcologists.

To show maximum objectivity, you should specify the existing disadvantages of the drug:

  • A large number of contraindications;
  • Risk of severe Antabuse effect requiring emergency care;
  • Lack of a solution to the key problem of alcoholism-stopping cravings for alcohol.

The information provided in this article should not be used for self-medication and is for informational purposes only.

Self-administration of Disulfiram without the appointment of a specialist is dangerous to health and life. The duration of treatment and rehabilitation from alcohol abuse should be prescribed by a qualified psychiatrist-narcologist.

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