Antabuse (Disulfiram) - Uses for Alcoholism | Detox Plus UK

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There are many medications to help alcohol addiction, but Antabuse is unique. Rather than being focused on easing withdrawal symptoms, it is designed to motivate stopping drinking. The medication existed for other reasons for many years. Thanks to worldwide success with Antabuse, UK doctors are using it on prescription. 

How Does Antabuse Work?

Disulfiram, sold in the UK under the brand Antabuse was originally used to treat parasites. Doctors noticed that anyone who drank alcohol while using the medication became very sick as a side effect. They found the drug was blocking the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the liver. This is one of the main reasons for experiencing a hangover after drinking. The medication causes a hangover shortly after drinking, which lasts for several hours. Even if you only drink a small amount, the side effects are severe. 

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Side Effects of Antabuse

Without taking alcohol, there can be some mild side effects to taking Disulfiram. 

  • Headache
  • Metal or garlic taste in the mouth
  • Itching or rash
  • Liver problems

Side effects of Antabuse, if you take alcohol, are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Mental disorientation
  • Pounding headache

These are designed to prevent people from drinking alcohol to avoid side effects. For this reason, in the UK, doctors will not prescribe this medication for people who have not stopped drinking for at least 12 hours. 

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Where Can I Get Antabuse in the UK?

You cannot buy Antabuse over the counter in the UK. A private prescription from a qualified doctor can be an easy option if you want this medication specifically. Some GPs will prescribe this for those with long-term alcohol dependence, but it is not common practice in the NHS because of the cost. 

How To Take Antabuse?

One of the biggest issues with Antabuse is that UK doctors found patients weren’t taking the tablets. This was a common problem; patients wanted to have the option of drinking alcohol despite wanting to stop. Two alternatives are available to prevent this issue. These two options are usually only available from a private clinic on prescription.

  • Antabuse injections are one option. This doesn’t rely on the patient to take the medication willingly. Once you have had an injection, you cannot drink for up to two weeks without risking side effects.
  • An antabuse implant is another choice and lasts longer than an injection, about 12 months. 

Problems With Antabuse

Antabuse was prescribed to people with alcohol problems in the UK in significant numbers until 2016. UK doctors had found several issues with Disulfiram. 

  • Side effects were viewed as a cruel punishment for those who couldn’t stop drinking.
  • Several regular products that contained alcohol caused painful reactions. E.g., Mouthwash, vinegar and perfume.
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the most common reason cited for early relapse. This medication does not help manage these symptoms. 
  • The two other medications for alcohol withdrawal, Acamprosate and Naltrexone, can manage cravings. 

Antabuse, Naltrexone or Acamprosate, Which is Better?

With Acamprosate and Naltrexone available in the UK on prescription, you might wonder why many opt for Antabuse.

Naltrexone can moderate drinking by blocking pleasure receptors in the brain. Although they are excellent treatments, these two drugs don’t work for everyone. Taking Naltrexone before drinking can stop your enjoyment of it. 

Overall, Antabuse shows better results for those with severe alcohol misuse disorder. If you are looking for complete abstinence, it gives you the best chance. 

Considering the current thinking on alcohol addiction, cutting down doesn’t work long term. Abstinence should be the goal of those with an addiction. 

Should I Take Disulfiram?

You must take the advice of a doctor before taking Antabuse in the UK. It is only available on prescription. If the following apply to you, Disulfiram could be a good choice:

  • You are addicted to alcohol and want to stop completely
  • Tried counselling, support groups and recovery programs before without success
  • Cannot, for medical reasons, take Acamprosate or Naltrexone
  • Are willing to abstain completely from alcohol
  • Have support from either inpatient or outpatient rehab therapyDetox Plus UK

Who Shouldn’t Take Disulfiram?

Antabuse isn’t for everyone, and there are several reasons for not taking it. If any of the following apply to you, do not take Disulfiram:

  • If you want to cut down on drinking. Any alcohol will cause a severe reaction
  • Cannot stop drinking for at least 12 hours before treatment
  • Take: blood thinners, seizure medication, or alcohol-containing products
  • Have issues with psychosis, kidney or liver problems or diabetesDetox Plus

 

Rehab and Antabuse

The risks when mixed with alcohol mean it is better when combined with inpatient rehab treatment. 

  • Inpatient rehab is an alcohol-free zone
  • The rehab medical staff can manage your prescription and side effects
  • Best combined with counselling, group therapy and detox treatment
  • A rehab detox doctor will do the prescription offering more privacy
  • Typically offered as part of a medical detox program

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drink on Antabuse?

You should not drink on Antabuse. The side effects can be very severe and uncomfortable, which is the idea of taking the medication. Although some people initially feel no side effects, the effects can come on at any time depending on your individual biology, and it is never worth the risk.

What Other Side Effects Does Antabuse Cause?

Antabuse can cause weight loss, tiredness, flushing and a metallic taste in your mouth.

Can You Buy Antabuse Online?

In the UK, you cannot legally buy Antabuse online without a prescription from a doctor. Any online platform that you use this way could be risky and offer fake medication. You can speak with a qualified private doctor about a prescription or visit a private clinic. 

Choosing the right private clinic for Antabuse implants, injections, or tablet prescriptions can be difficult. We can help you to find a rehab nearby or a private addiction clinic for treatment where you live. Call our expert team to explore your option today tel: 02072052734.

Sources

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-alcohol/2018/part-3

https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/45/3/271/208963 Why is Disulfiram Superior to Acamprosate in the Routine Clinical Setting?

https://patient.info/medicine/disulfiram-tablets-antabuse

http://acshist.scs.illinois.edu/bulletin_open_access/v33-2/v33-2%20p82-88.pdf FROM DISULFIRAM THE INVENTION OF A DRUG

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-alcohol/2018/part-3

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