Antabuse Dosage: How Much To Take & When

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Antabuse is a medication designed to help people with chronic alcohol addictions discourage further alcohol use and help people with their journey to sobriety.

People who use the medication are discouraged from consuming any amount of alcohol as it will result in adverse reactions and result in an unpleasant experience overall.

In this article, we will discuss exactly what Antabuse is, along with the two most popular doses prescribed. We will also discuss:

  • How the medication works
  • What effects the medication have on alcohol use
  • The forms and strengths of the medication available
  • How to use the medication properly, and what to know before you start
  • The common and serious side effects of the medication and when to seek help.

Let’s get into it.

What Is Antabuse (Disulfiram)?

Antabuse is an FDA-approved medication used to help treat alcoholism.

For people with Alcohol Use Disorder, it can be extremely difficult to refrain from using alcohol – even after sobriety.

Antabuse, also known as Disulfiram, is an oral medication that is given to people to discourage alcohol use.

It works by blocking the breakdown of one of alcohol’s byproducts. This results in various unpleasant reactions such as flushing, nausea, and vertigo, along with a drop in blood pressure – discouraging further drinking.

It is less commonly used in people with cocaine dependence to help stabilize their levels of neurotransmitters which may be responsible for their cocaine addiction.

Antabuse and Alcohol Consumption

If alcohol is used with Antabuse, some undesirable effects include:

  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Mental confusion.

Antabuse Dosage: Forms & Strengths

Before Using

It is important that you take this medication under the guidance of a trained medical professional.

You should discuss your past medical history with your doctor, especially if you have had a history of heart or liver problems.

The disulfiram-alcohol reaction is unpleasant, and it is important to know what to expect if you do drink alcohol while on this medication (as well as when to seek medical advice).

It is also important to properly detox from alcohol, as abrupt alcohol withdrawal in people with long-standing alcoholism is dangerous and potentially fatal.

Proper Use

Antabuse is only available in tablet form. It comes in 2 strengths: either 250 mg or 500 mg.

Your doctor will prescribe you the correct amount and provide you with information on how to take the medication.

Antabuse tablets can be crushed and mixed with various other liquids to make them easier to take. They are usually taken once daily.

It is important not to take more than is prescribed to you. You should also ensure that you have stopped consuming alcohol at least 12 hours before you start to take the medication.

The medication may also not be suitable for people with chronic alcoholism in the early stages, as they will need to detox in a medical setting.

Precautions

Although Antabuse is a helpful tool for many people, it is not suitable for everyone.

It is important that you tell your doctor if you have ever had issues with your heart or have experienced psychotic symptoms. The medications can worsen psychosis and cardiovascular disease.

It is also important to let your doctor know if you have had liver disease in the past, as people with poor liver function may not be able to take the medication.

Other health conditions that you should let your doctor know about include a history of seizures, diabetes, thyroid disorders such as an underactive thyroid, brain damage, or a history of blood vessel disease and kidney disease.

There may also be drug interactions with several other medications. Do not take the medication with the following medications:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Imipramine
  • Phenytoin
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Diazepam
  • Omeprazole
  • Acetaminophen
  • Blood thinners.

Side Effects of Antabuse

Like any medication, it is important to be aware of any adverse effects the medication may have.

While severe reactions are rare, it is important to know what the symptoms are so that you can seek help.

Serious side effects are more common in people who have underlying health conditions. It is therefore important to fully discuss your medical history with a doctor, before being prescribed the medication.

Common Side Effects

There are some common side effects that may be experienced when taking the medication.

These are usually mild and do not interfere with people’s everyday life. Common reactions include:

  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness
  • Metallic taste (halitosis).

It is important to note that the medication can stay in your system for 2 weeks after it has stopped being used. Therefore, if you consume alcohol in this timeframe, you will likely experience unpleasant side effects.

Serious Adverse Effects

Although severe reactions are rare, it is important to know that there is always a possibility of severe side effects and to know when to seek professional help.

  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and hepatic impairment
  • Peripheral neuropathy (disease of the nerves in the extremities)
  • Dermatological side effects such as rash, potentially due to an allergic reaction
  • Psychosis, especially when taken with cannabis
  • Chest pain and heart attack risk when taken with alcohol.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you are concerned about any of your symptoms or have questions about Antabuse, it is important that you seek medical advice.

Some of the symptoms which should prompt you to seek medical advice include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite and hunger
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain.

Final Thoughts

Antabuse is an FDA-approved medication that is designed to help people suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder with abstinence from alcohol.

It is an oral medicine that is taken and produces a bad reaction after the ingestion of alcohol, discouraging drinking.

You can either be prescribed a single dose of 250 mg or 500 mg tablets, which are to be taken once a day.  

It is important to make sure the medication is safe for you to take and to be aware of the potential adverse effects you may experience and when to seek help.

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