Avisa Recovery

Disulfiram Side Effects: What You Need to Know


Antabuse is sold under Disulfiram. It is a drug for treating alcohol use disorder (AUD). Disulfiram is an old drug. It has been in use since the 1940s. It is still very important in the battle against alcoholism. Its main use is to cause an extreme reaction to alcohol. This reaction is so strong that just the smell of alcohol would be better off being blown away by the wind.

Other medications aim to reduce cravings or ease withdrawal. Disulfiram works differently. It causes a physical reaction when alcohol is consumed. This reaction is so bad that it deters drinking. It makes disulfiram a unique and valuable tool for those committed to sobriety. However, like any drug, it has its own set of disulfiram side effects. Users should be aware of them.

Disulfiram is part of a full treatment plan. The plan includes counseling, support groups, and other therapies. This approach is holistic. It addresses the root problems of alcohol use disorder. It provides a better path to recovery.

Primary Uses of Disulfiram

The main use of disulfiram is to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is a long-term condition marked by abnormal alcohol consumption despite severe social, professional, and health problems. The drug deters drinking. It does this by causing bad physical reactions to alcohol.

Disulfiram’s primary use is in the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic disease characterized by an inability to control alcohol consumption despite adverse social, occupational, and health consequences. The medication serves as an effective deterrent for drinking due to the severe physical reactions it causes when alcohol is consumed.

How does it work?

Unlike methods that influence only one part of the body, disulfiram differs. Its mechanism is to stop the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme, which is vital for alcohol catabolism. The process is less complicated and easier to understand through the following example:

  • Alcohol Metabolism: When alcohol (ethyl alcohol) is ingested, the body metabolizes it first to acetaldehyde, a harmful substance.
  • Normal Enzyme Function: The natural activity of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase is to metabolize acetate and acetyl-CoA into acetate and acetyl-CoA, which the body can safely process.
  • Disulfiram’s Role: Disulfiram inhibits aldehyde dehydrogenase, which results in a build-up of acetaldehyde in the blood.
  • Physical Reactions: The acetaldehyde accumulation gives rise to discomforting symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and palpitations. All these unfavorable reactions keep people away from consuming alcohol.

It is a method of action that distinguishes disulfiram from other treatments for alcohol use disorder (AUD) since the unpleasant effects of drinking are the primary catalyst for people—thereby, staying sober becomes the natural choice.

General Side Effects of Disulfiram

The cases of disulfiram show that the treatment presents side effects like those of other medications. Yet, disulfiram therapy is more beneficial, and the issue of drug misuse should be stressed as the most important one. It is worth noting that certain disulfiram side effects are peculiar:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth
  • Skin rash or acne

This side-effect treatment is generally mild, and it will disappear after a few days as the body adapts to the drug.

Long-Term Side Effects

Extended use of disulfiram in some cases may signify more dangerous secondary effects, such as:

  • Liver damage or hepatitis
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage causing numbness or tingling)
  • Psychotic reactions (rare but serious)

Patients who take disulfiram regularly should be under strict medical observation to avoid liver damage and to monitor other health difficulties.

Managing Side Effects

Disulfiram is a drug that is used to treat alcohol addiction. However, it is crucial to recognize and control the side effects that may arise. Here are some recommendations for managing disulfiram side effects:

Tips for Managing Disulfiram Side Effects

1. Stay Hydrated

Along with disulfiram, it is important to drink lots of water. Drinking water may help reduce some side effects, such as headaches and dry mouths. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Additionally, beverages such as herbal teas and diluted fruit juices ought to be considered. They are great due to their rehydrating properties.

2. Healthy Diet

A balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and proteins should be included. You can also consider going for food items produced from whole grains without additives. This way, you can reduce the risk of liver damage and minimize the side effects of the drug. Plant sources of antioxidants, e.g., the above-mentioned items, can keep your body youthful by protecting it from oxidative stress. In parallel, sufficient amounts of other elements are indispensable, e.g., lean proteins and whole grains.

3. Regular Check-Ups

Regular visits to your healthcare provider are essential when taking disulfiram. These check-ups allow your doctor to monitor your liver and health. Moreover, they are the only way to say whether there will be no complications due to disulfiram. Your doctor would like to evaluate your progress and whether or not you are showing any side effects before performing the dose adjustment

4. Monitor Your Symptoms

Listen to what your body tells you. Make a mental note of any symptoms you have when you are on disulfiram. It, in turn, makes it simpler for you to analyze variations and communicate them to your doctor. This systematic way of dealing with the issues can identify adverse effects at the onset stage and ensure quick intervention.

Key Uses and Applications

1. Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

Disulfiram is usually just for treating alcohol use disorders. It is mainly helpful for people who are resolved to stay away from alcohol but face a situation when they are about to have a drink or are craving one. Disulfiram achieves this goal by making the alcohol very disgusting. And the individuals do everything to stay sober because of this medicine.

2. Relapse Prevention

One of the key areas of therapy for people with antidote abuse disorder is to avoid relapse. Disulfiram is often an inseparable part of the relapse prevention program. The effectiveness of disulfiram in creating the opposite effects of the feeling of drinking alcohol with aversion makes it a very important instrument and a powerful driving force for those individuals who are most likely to relapse after a sobriety period.

3. Supportive Therapy

Disulfiram is encompassed in the therapy plan along with other therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, and support groups. This system brings into line both the physiology and the psyche of AUD and hence makes the therapy well-rounded, ensuring that the patients get well and stay so for the rest of their lives.

Prescribing Disulfiram

1. Initiation of Treatment

All the patients taking disulfiram must completely stop the intake of alcohol for at least 12 hours and have a full medical workup to be sure that no health issues disqualify them from the therapy. The dosage schedule is usually 500 mg daily for one to two weeks before the chaser dose of 250 mg daily.

2. Monitoring and Support

As it is widely accepted that follow-up visits by highly qualified specialists are of major significance in assessing response to treatment, management of the patient’s side effects, and personally tailoring the dose, the quality and intensity of the supporting environment the patient is linked to the main goal of the disulfiram is to prevent the patient from alcohol use.

3. Contraindications and Cautions

Yes, you are right; not everybody should take this medicine. It should not be used by men and women who have heart disease, as it is very risky, or by those who are in a state of psychosis or are pregnant. Patients should be familiar with the potential symptoms of alcohol intolerance and the critical aspect of sheer medication intake in their process.

Frequently Asked Question

Que: Can disulfiram interact with other medications?

Ans: Yes, disulfiram has a lot of drugs that might interact, e.g., blood thinners, some antidepressants, and seizure medications are some of these drugs. To prevent possible interactions, it is very important to inform your doctor about all your prescribed drugs and dietary supplements.

Que: Who should not take Disulfiram?

Ans: Disulfiram is not for everyone. It is not advised for people with severe heart disease, psychoses, or individuals who are allergic to diclofenac or its components. It is the one that is most likely not effective if you are intoxicated or without the commitment to abstinence from alcohol. In addition, always consult a healthcare provider to receive a recommendation for disulfiram that will suit you.

Que: What should I do if I accidentally consume alcohol while on Disulfiram?

Ans: If you take an alcoholic drink while on disulfiram, you will likely experience severe physical reactions; for example, you can expect to be sick (vomit), to feel bad (headaches, etc.), or you may get a very fast heart rate (tachycardia). What must be done at a medical center when that happens is most important.

Que: What are the common side effects of disulfiram?

Ans:  Some of the less frequent side effects include boredom, drowsiness, a small headache, skin eruptions, and a distinctive smell in the mouth. The last severe stage an individual can reach is vomiting, and the latter symptoms may include sweating and confusion after the alcohol is drunk.


Disulfiram is among the potent drugs that serve in the treatment of alcohol use disorder, although there are certain cons and considerations in the matter despite the effectiveness of its treatment. Being aware of disulfiram’s side effects is critical for anyone who is considering using this medication. The typical reactions are dizziness, nausea, and either a metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth; these are more critical responses. A stable body is necessary for the drug to work effectively and be safe. Alcohol consumption causes dangerous problems.

If disulfiram is what your family member is considering as a treatment for alcoholism, feel free to make direct contact with us at AVISA Recovery. Our team of experts is the best; we will help you achieve long-term recovery with empathy and guidance from experienced professionals. You can reach us at 732-236-7234 to join us on your first step toward a lighter, alcohol-free life. Just remember that knowing disulfiram side effects and finding healthcare providers who can advise you the right way are the main keys to your recovery.

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