How Does Disulfiram Work?




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Have you ever heard of the prescription drug Antabuse? This is the brand name for the medication known as disulfiram, a type of drug that is classified as an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor. It is prescribed for people who are struggling with alcoholism, particularly those who are in the recovery stage.

Disulfiram helps alcohol addicted individuals remain sober. It helps them abstain from drinking alcohol by discouraging such behavior. On this article, we will talk about how this drug works its magic. Let’s take a closer look.

What Happens When You Take Disulfiram?

DisulfiramDisulfiram is a rather aggressive kind of medication. If you take this drug and then drink alcohol, you will experience a severe and unpleasant reaction. It works the other way around that if you drink alcohol and then takes this medication, your body will go through the same negative reaction.

It discourages the addictive behavior itself in a rather drastic way, which may even be dangerous to someone. Knowing this fact can help people stop drinking. But of course, this should only be done under close medical supervision.

Disulfiram works best when used as a part of a comprehensive drug addiction treatment program. It is only one of the components that help people get sober. It is not the cure for alcoholism.

How does it Work?

So now we know that the main job of Disulfiram is to deter drinking. But how does it achieve this effect? Well, Disulfiram interferes with the way the body metabolizes alcohol. When alcohol enters the body, it is broken down by a compound called acetaldehyde. It is then broken down by an enzyme in the liver.

However, if Disulfiram enters the system, it stops this enzyme from working. It means that the body can no longer process the alcohol normally. Acetaldehyde builds up in the bloodstream instead.

High levels of acetaldehyde will act directly on the heart and blood vessels. This causes a racing heartbeat and a drop in blood pressure that causes dizziness. It also causes other unpleasant symptoms like a headache, palpitations, nausea, and vomiting.

The effect is so specific that the reaction is often called the “disulfiram reaction”. And suffice to say, it is usually enough to deter people from having another drink.

This reaction typically occurs within ten minutes of ingesting alcohol. It may last for several hours. In many cases, the discomfort is not worth the high you get from drinking. It helps people stay sober whenever they are feeling tempted to drink.

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Treatment with this medication often starts in a hospital, where medical professionals can keep an eye on you.

Do keep in mind that if you are starting on this medicine, you must not have drunk alcohol for at least 24 hours otherwise you might experience these effects. Do follow your doctor’s prescription carefully so you can get the best results.

Don’t take the drug in large doses, or more often than you are supposed to. Tell your doctor if you get an allergic reaction to it.

If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol addiction, you can look for a rehab facility near you. Their path towards sobriety starts today!


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