Disulfiram: Treating Alcoholism With Deterrent Drugs

Health & Medical Blog

Disulfiram is a prescription medication that is used in the treatment of alcohol abuse. It is unique and different from other types of substance abuse treatment options because it does not actually quell the urge to consume alcohol. Instead, it is a powerful deterrent. This means that if you consume alcohol while taking disulfiram, you may experience very unpleasant side effects. These adverse reactions are often severe enough to deter the individual from taking another drink while receiving disulfiram therapy and beyond. If you are struggling with a drinking problem, consider the following factors pertaining to disulfiram to determine if it might be an appropriate alcohol abuse treatment option for you. 

Mechanism Of Action

Taking disulfiram makes you very sensitive to the effects of alcohol. When you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream and is converted to a chemical compound known as acetaldehyde. The alcohol is then converted into acetic acid. Disulfiram blocks or inhibits your body's ability to convert acetaldehyde to the organic compound, acetic acid. When this reaction occurs, it causes a rapid increase in the production of acetaldehyde, increasing its toxicity and causing the person to become extremely ill.

Before your healthcare provider prescribes disulfiram, they may ask you about your medical history and perform a physical examination. While disulfiram is considered an appropriate treatment option for alcohol abuse, it may not be recommended for those who have severe cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, or liver disorders.

Precautionary Measures

Since disulfiram cannot discern the alcohol from an alcoholic beverage from the alcohol that is contained in certain medications and foods, you will need to avoid certain things. These include alcohol-based mouthwashes, cough and cold liquids that contain alcohol, certain types of vinegar, and some pasta sauces, including vodka sauce. Pasta sauces that contain vodka should be avoided because they still may contain alcohol even after cooking.

Your doctor may also tell you to avoid topical products that contain alcohol such as hand sanitizer and cologne while receiving disulfiram treatment. It is important to note, that the reactions caused by consuming alcohol while taking disulfiram such as nausea and vomiting are completely normal. As stated before, these adverse reactions are the objectives behind disulfiram therapy because they help deter the person from future drinking. If you do experience adverse reactions, try to remain calm and be reassured that they will subside once the alcohol has metabolized, which may take up to a few hours.

If you are struggling with substance abuse, make an appointment with your primary care physician who will recommend treatment options. While the first days of your recovery may be challenging, commend yourself for taking the first courageous steps to better health and a brighter future.

Contact a substance abuse treatment center for more information about treatment options for alcoholism.


7 January 2022

Staying in Great Health Requires Exercise

My parents taught me healthy eating habits and I played outside a lot as a kid. Once I was old enough to work, I got a job as a waiter at a restaurant and kept waiting tables throughout high school and college. After college, I got my very first desk job, and my health started declining. I soon realized that even though I had never stepped foot in a gym, I was living a sedentary lifestyle for the first time in my life. I wasn't getting exercise playing outside or running around at work, so I decided to commit to going to the gym. My health began to improve and I now greatly enjoy bodybuilding. I know many other people are in ill health and can't figure out why, so I decided to start a blog to share my health tips and inspire everyone improve their health!