Antabuse (disulfiram) is a prescription drug that interferes with the body’s metabolism of alcohol, resulting in unpleasant effects when alcohol is consumed. It is not a cure for alcoholism and does not stop cravings, but is used as a physical and psychological deterrent— if you drink while taking it, you will get sick.

Antabuse & Alcohol

When taken with alcohol, Antabuse can cause reactions that range from mild to severe and can include nausea, vomiting, headache, chest pain, blurred vision, confusion and respiratory difficulty. The negative effects start within approximately 10 minutes of the first combination of Antabuse and alcohol. They can be felt from 30 minutes to several hours, for as long as there is alcohol in the bloodstream.

When you begin treatment with Antabuse, you should first abstain from alcohol for 24 hours, to be sure there is no alcohol in your system. Antabuse should only ever be given to someone who is trying to quit drinking and is fully aware of the consequences of drinking while taking it. Cough syrups, wine vinegars, and other products containing alcohol should be avoided while taking Antabuse. Antabuse can stay in a person’s system for up to two weeks, and can cause negative effects when alcohol is consumed for the duration of that time.

People who wish to abstain from alcohol and who respond well to a physical deterrent or consequence to help them do so.

See your physician to discuss whether Antabuse is appropriate for your situation.

Talking to your doctor

Getting Started with Pharmaceutical Treatment or Counseling

Learn more: WebMD: Disulfiram

Learn more: Disulfiram

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