What You Need To Know About Antabuse Reactions

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Antabuse is a medication designed to help people with alcoholism maintain their sobriety. If you are thinking of taking the medication, it is important to know what to expect and what the Antabuse reaction is.

In this article, we will highlight the key things you should know about taking this medication, and how it may help you. We will cover:

  • What Antabuse is
  • How to take Antabuse
  • How the medication works
  • Potential side effects
  • Antabuse reactions.

Let’s get into it.

What is Antabuse?

Antabuse is a medication that has been approved by the FDA to help people who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (also known as chronic alcoholism) bydiscouraging them from further alcohol use.

It is a prescription medication that causes unpleasant symptoms in people who consume alcohol.

The medication is taken as a tablet and is usually taken once a day.

The medication is not considered a cure for alcoholism but is instead a tool that is used as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan to help people who suffer from alcoholism.

It is usually prescribed together with psychological treatments such as counseling and therapy to help you maintain sobriety.

How To Take Antabuse

Once Antabuse has been prescribed by a healthcare professional, it will be ready to pick up at a pharmacy.

Antabuse comes in tablet form and comes in 2 strengths: 250 mg or 500 mg. Your doctor will prescribe you the right strength for your recovery and other health needs.

Antabusetablets are usually taken once daily in the morning and can be crushed, as well as mixed with various other liquids such as juice, tea, or water.

If you have consumed alcohol, it is important to wait for at least 12 hours before you take Antabuse again to avoid unpleasant side effects.

It is also important to avoid any alcohol-containing products such as cough syrup and mouthwash.

The medication can stay in your system for up to 2 weeks after you stop taking the medication.

Therefore, if you ingest alcohol even after you have stopped taking the medication, you may still experience unpleasant side effects.

How Antabuse Works

Antabuse is made with an active ingredient called disulfiram. Disulfiram works by preventing the full breakdown of a toxic byproduct that accumulates in the body after drinking alcohol.

This toxic byproduct (acetaldehyde) is responsible for the unpleasant feelings including hangovers, people experience after drinking.

The reaction between the medication and alcohol is called the disulfiram-alcohol reaction. This unpleasant reaction to alcohol ingestion helps act as a deterrent.

The medication is not considered a cure for alcoholism but can be a great tool to promote abstinence.

What happens when you drink after taking Antabuse:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure and dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Thirst.

What Is An Antabuse-Like Reaction / Disulfiram-Like Reaction

Antabuse-like reactions occur when another medication produces effects that are similar to the disulfiram-alcohol reaction when alcohol is consumed.

This may happen with medications such as metronidazole, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tinidazole, chlorpropamide, and tolbutamide which all work similarly to disulfiram.

If you have certain health conditions that mean you cannot take Antabuse, your doctor may prescribe these medications instead.

Who Can Take Antabuse?

Antabuse is prescribed by healthcare professionals for people suffering from chronic alcoholism. Once it is safe to stop ingesting alcohol (such as after detox), the medication can be started.

The medication may not be suitable for everyone. People with liver disease, kidney disease, or severe heart disease may not be able to take the medication.

Antabuse Side Effects

All medications have the potential to produce side effects. It is important to be aware of what side effects to look out for and to seek help if you experience any of the following:

Common side effects may include

  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness
  • Metallic taste (halitosis)
  • Unpleasant side effects if accidentally taken with alcohol-containing products, such as ingested mouthwash or cough syrup.

Although serious side effects are relatively rare, it is important to be aware of the potential for these adverse reactions.

In order to minimize the risk of serious side effects, it is vital to talk to your doctor about any underlying medical conditions to take your medication as prescribed, – and most importantly, to avoid alcohol.

Serious side effects may include

  • 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 a risk of heart attack when taken with alcohol.

Symptoms of severe reactions may 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
  • Skin rash.

Antabuse Reactions

Antabuse can react with a number of drugs and other prescription medications.

When you are first prescribed Antabuse, it is important to let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications as some may cause reactions with Antabuse.

Some medications which may cause adverse reactions if taken with Antabuse include:

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

Final Thoughts

Antabuse is an FDA-approved medication that helps people with chronic alcoholism remain abstinent.

The medication produces unpleasant effects if alcohol is ingested, thereby acting as a deterrent.

Since it does not treat alcohol cravings or withdrawal symptoms, it is not considered a cure for alcoholism.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol, it is important to seek support (especially psychological help) to treat the underlying cause of alcohol abuse.

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