Medically reviewed by: Scot Thomas, M.D.Edited by: Dan Wagener, M.A.Written by: Rudolph C. Hatfield, PhDLast updated on29 April 2021

About Antabuse

Antabuse is a medication that can help people with an alcohol usage disorder protect against drinking if they room in the early stages the and also beyond.

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What Is Antabuse?

Antabuse (disulfiram) is a medicine that can be useful in the treatment of serious alcohol usage disorders. It is the very first approved medication for the treatment of alcoholism, and also its clinical use began in 1951.1

Antabuse is not a cure because that an alcohol use disorder. It is a medication the can help people regulate their drink while they are adjusting come their new lifestyle in A human who provides Antabuse must be committed to and enrolled in a formalized treatment program.

How that Works

The physics reaction stops people from wanting come drink.

Disulfiram, the energetic ingredient in Antabuse, is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor. It interferes v the method a person’s body metabolizes alcohol. As soon as a person drinks alcohol, the is broken down right into a compound referred to as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is then broken down by one enzyme the is produced by the liver called aldehyde dehydrogenase. Antabuse prevents aldehyde dehydrogenase from functioning properly.

Acetaldehyde starts to exert toxic impacts as it build up in the Antabuse user’s system, and also may reason a variety of unpleasant symptoms the include:1

Feelings that dizziness as result of a drop in blood pressure.A gyeongju heartbeat.Headaches.Shortness of breath.Heart palpitations.Nausea.Vomiting.

This physics reaction is enough to discourage some world from drinking alcohol.1 The reaction wake up within around 10 minutes of drinking alcohol, and the impacts can critical for several hours. Typically, a person will experience the results of Antabuse if they drink or use alcohol in ~ 24 come 48 hrs of acquisition the medication.

The emotional principle whereby Antabuse works is recognized as aversion therapy.2 When people associate becoming an extremely ill with drinking alcohol, they end up being conditioned to not desire to drink.

Use of Antabuse

Antabuse is not supposed to it is in a standalone technique of dealing with an alcohol use disorder, and it is no marketed as a cure. Instead, it have the right to be supplied with other methods of treatment to help a human remain sober during the early on stages of treatment. Antabuse treatment is linked with other species of therapies such as counseling, team therapy,and support groups.

Antabuse is only obtainable with a prescription indigenous a physician. It is also being evaluated for its performance in the therapy of cocaine usage disorder, as well as in the therapy of HIV and certain types of cancer.3,4

About Dosage


Antabuse is initially administered at a preferably of 500 mg daily. It comes in pill kind and is taken with liquid. Most people take the medicine in the morning in a solitary dose, yet some may take that in the evening due to the fact that it can create mild sedation.

After 1 or 2 weeks, world go ~ above a maintain dose that does no exceed 500 mg daily. Typically, the sheep is in the variety of 125 to 500 mg every day. The average maintenance sheep is 250 mg daily.1,5,6

How to take it Antabuse

Antabuse have to be taken exactly as prescribed. The is essential to save taking the medication on regular basis until formal plans have actually been made come discontinue it.

Additionally, people who take it Antabuse must be affiliated in a therapy programthat consists of counseling, social support, and a permanent maintenance setup for

A great rule of thumb is to begin taking the medicine 12 to 24 hrs after your last drink that alcohol.

What to carry out if You miss a Dose

You deserve to take the sheep if the is within 12 hours of the typical time that you would take the drug. However, if the is much more than 12 hrs after the time that girlfriend would typically take the drug, wait until your following scheduled sheep to take it it. Perform not twin up ~ above the medication—this deserve to lead come overdose.

Antabuse has actually a relatively slow half-life that varieties between around 60 and 120 hours. For this reason for many people, it need to not it is in taken in ~ 12 hrs of alcohol use. However, civilization who weigh much less than 110 pounds must wait longer, due to the fact that body weight can determine how easily one’s body can rid itself of alcohol.5 as result of its slow price of elimination, Antabuse deserve to remain reliable in the body for approximately 2 main after the is used.1,5

How long Should You take It?

There is no collection time period for just how long you need to use the medication.

You have to keep taking the medicine every day till you have remained abstinent from alcohol because that a significant period the time. In ~ this point, you have to speak v your treating physician or other alcohol professional around discontinuing the medication. The effects of the medicine can proceed for approximately 2 weeks after ~ discontinuation, so it have the right to still be effective if a person should relapse throughout that time period. In such cases, the medication can be restarted.1

Antabuse side Effects

Several side results may occur when making use of Antabuse:5Acne.Allergic dermatitis.Mild drowsiness.Fatigue.Headache.Impotence (in males).A metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth.

The next effects commonly resolve in ~ a couple of weeks or when the dosage is tapered under to a maintenance level. For many people, any kind of reactions come the skin have the right to be addressed v antihistamines. Hepatic toxicity is rare, yet still a possibility in some users (due to troubles with the liver metabolizing the drug).

Because the this risk, a blood sample might be compelled to operation liver role testing prior to and throughout the course of Antabuse treatment, to assess for any kind of hepatic injury.

When come Seek clinical Attention

Though rare, over there is a tiny risk because that hepatotoxicity with Antabuse use. Customers who demonstrate the following signs and symptoms have to receive instant medical attention to preclude any type of worsening liver problems:1,5

too much tiredness or weakness.Prolonged nausea and/or vomiting.Fever.A an extensive lack that energy.Loss the appetite.Symptoms that jaundice, such together yellowing the the skin and/or eyes.Dark-colored urine.Light-colored stools.

Further, you need to let her physician recognize if girlfriend have any signs of psychological confusion or psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations.

Before making use of Antabuse, tell her physician about any medical problems you have and also any medicines that you room taking.

Risk Factors

Antabuse is no recommended for people with the following:1,5An energetic condition with a psychotic component, such together schizophrenia.Cardiovascular an illness or coronary arterial occlusions (blocked arteries).Known liver damage.Allergies to sulfur or nickel or well-known reactions come thiuram derivatives such as vulcanized rubber products or pesticides.Pregnant or nursing women. Dangers to the fetus or young youngsters are unknown, and also the drug have to not be administered come nursing mothers or females who room pregnant or arrangement to come to be pregnant throughout the administration of the drug.People with hypothyroidism, diabetes, kidney an illness or epilepsy have to be monitored carefully while ~ above the drug. People who have actually a history of traumatic brain injury should consult your doctor before using the drug.

Drug Interactions

Consuming any type of substance that has alcohol will cause a reaction as soon as taking Antabuse.

Avoid items together as:1,5

Mouthwash.Colognes and also perfumes.Certain all set foods and also beverages.Fermented vinegar, marinades, sauces, etc.

In addition, Antabuse may communicate with several various other drugs.1,5

that may connect produce unusual bleeding in people who take anticoagulants.It may develop excessive sedation in world who take it anticonvulsant medications.People that take central nervous device depressants, together as medicines for stress or sedative medications to aid them sleep, may experience an raised reaction that produces higher levels of sedation.Medications with even low levels of alcohol may reason a reaction (e.g., cold medications, cough syrups, etc.).Using Antabuse while acquisition Flagyl (metronidazole) may create a reaction similar to alcohol or may develop confusion and also psychosis.People who use clozapine must not take Antabuse due to the potential toxic effects.People who take isoniazid or other monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs might experience an unstable gait or psychological confusion.People who take tricyclic antidepressant medications might experience enhanced sedation.

Antabuse must never be administered to who in a state of alcohol intoxication or alcohol withdrawal, or to someone who is unable to do a commitment to stop using alcohol, such as a human being with a developmental disorder or dementia.

Antabuse Cost

The average price of Antabuse is roughly $80 for a 30-day supply. Most insurance carriers will covering the cost.

However, plans differ, and also you should inspect with her insurance customer organization representative to identify if your arrangement covers the cost of the medication.

How efficient Is It?


Obviously, Antabuse is only efficient if the human being takes the drug regularly. However, its efficiency can be intensified if the human being taking the drug:

Is cursed to total abstinence.Fully understands the results of drink alcohol if they space taking the drug.Is both able to make a decision around its use and is medically ideal to usage the drug.Can opt for managed dosing (being administered the medicine under the supervision of a family members member, mental wellness worker or physician).Research ~ above Effectiveness

Antabuse is a well-researched medication, and also a variety of studies support its use. However, a couple things need to be detailed about the research.

First, much of the earlier research that supported its use developed mixed results.6 study studies supporting the effectiveness of Antabuse in reducing drinking in those v chronic alcoholism suggested that when the drug was taken as prescribed, there to be a potential for it come be helpful in assisting individuals not come drink.

However, compliance v taking the drug has been a significant issue in plenty of studies.6 Research has actually indicated that when someone is supervised while they take it the drug, it enhances compliance with taking Antabuse and also enhances the efficiency of it. When world are left to take the drug on your own, however, compliance have the right to be a problem. Many users find that they can stop taking Antabuse and begin drink alcohol again in simply a couple of days, bring about planned Antabuse holidays.1,6

Frequently inquiry Questions

How long Does Antabuse continue to be in your System?

Antabuse has a reasonably long however variable half-life of between 60 and also 120 hours. This means that in that time period, the level the the drug in your system will to decrease by one-half.

In many cases, people still endure some part of the full impacts of the drug approximately 2 weeks ~ discontinuing it. However, the drug will be eliminated from people’s equipment at different rates because of individual differences.

When should I prevent Taking Antabuse?

Consult with your physician, counselor, therapy provider and/or household members prior to you stop using Antabuse.

You should develop a enough length that time of complete sobriety prior to stopping the medication. You should likewise be cursed to continued abstinence.

How execute You protect against Using Antabuse?

You space not likely to experience significant withdrawal effects when you stop taking Antabuse. The medication have the right to be discontinued once you have actually made a commitment come sobriety and also your therapy team agrees.

Find one Alcohol Abuse restore Program

Having an alcohol usage disorder is a serious and troubling issue. An admissions consultant can verify which varieties of treatment your insurance will certainly cover and let you know about any co-pays or fees.

If you carry out not have insurance, friend may shot the nationwide helpline because that the problem Abuse and Mental wellness Services management (SAMHSA). You might qualify for special assistance that can assist you find appropriate treatment program or payment options.


Ries, R. K., Fiellin, D. A., Miller, S. C., & Saitz, R. (2014). The ASAM principles of seeks medicine. Brand-new York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Hatfield, R. C. (2013). The everything guide to the human being brain. Avon, MA: Adams Publishing.Schottenfeld, R. S., Chawarski, M. C., Cubells, J. F., George, T. P., Lappalainen, J., & Kosten, T. R. (2014). Randomized clinical attempt of disulfiram for cocaine dependency or abuse throughout buprenorphine treatment. Drug and also alcohol dependence, 136, 36–42.Doyon, G., Zerbato, J., Mellors, J. W., & Sluis-Cremer, N. (2013). Disulfiram reactivates latent HIV-1 expression with depletion that the phosphatase and also tensin homolog. Aid, 27(2), F7–F11.Griffith, H. W. & Moore, S. W. (2015). Complete the guide to prescription and also nonprescription medicine 2016 – 2017.

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brand-new York: arbitrarily House.Suh, J. J., Pettinati, H. M., Kampman, K. M., & O’Brien, C. P. (2006). The condition of disulfiram: A fifty percent of a century later. Journal that clinical psychopharmacology, 26(3), 290–302.