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Last updated on: November 21st, 2021

Generic Name: Disulfiram (die sul FER am)

Brand names: Antabuse

What does this drug do?

This drug contains such active ingredient as disulfiram. It is a type of drugs which is known as aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor. This medicine is recommended by doctors to help people get rid of alcohol abuse. Do not drink alcohol while taking this remedy. It will result in dangerous and severe reaction. Knowing about this prevents people from drinking alcohol.

Let’s check the mechanism of action.

Disulfiram acts by interfering the way the person’s organism metabolizes alcohol. Alcohol drinks are broken down to a compound which is known as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde will be further broken down in the liver. Disulfiram interferes with process. Thus if a person drinks alcohol the body is not able to process it in usual way. In its turn acetaldehyde accumulates in the blood. If there is a high level of acetaldehyde in the body, it will affect blood vessels and heart. Person may feel irregular heartbeat, flushing, a drop in blood pressure and dizziness. There are other symptoms, such as palpitations, vomiting, nausea, and shortness of breath. It is the negative reaction of the body to alcohol. The reaction is called the disulfiram reaction. Usually it is enough for person to refuse from drinking alcohol.

Person will experience the disulfiram reaction on alcohol in around 10 min after having a drink of alcohol. It may last even up to several hours. This reaction can be very dangerous! For majority of people, knowing that they might have this dangerous reaction is enough to stop using alcohol.

Please make sure to avoid drinking alcohol at least 24 hours before starting taking this remedy. Also avoid drinking alcohol at lease a week after stopping using this remedy. It is important to follow these instructions because the reaction can still occur.

What is this remedy used for?

Antabuse will help you to get rid of problems with alcohol.

Warnings about this drug:

    It is extremely important not to drink alcohol in the period of taking this drug. Refuse from alcohol one week after treatment. Otherwise disulfiram reaction may occur. The symptoms of this reaction are as follows: vomiting, palpitations, nausea, a racing heartbeat, headache, flushing, dizziness, shortness of breath. The reaction can be very dangerous.

    Certain aerosol sprays, foods, remedies, tonics, liquid medicines, perfumes, toiletries may contain enough alcohol ingredients to be the reason of disulfiram reaction. Please be very careful with “non-alcohol”,  “alcohol-free” and  low alcohol drinks, such as wine or beer. They can also provoke this reaction since they stil contain some alcohol.

    Contact your doctor immediately if you have disulfiram reaction. 

You must tell your doctor if you:

  •     have epilepsy;
  •     have diabetes;
  •     have kidney failure;
  •     have disease affecting the airways or lungs (respiratory disease);
  •     have liver disease.

Don’t use this remedy if you:

  •     have coronary heart disease;
  •     have psychotic illness;  
  •     have history of stroke;
  •     have heart failure;
  •     have severe mental disorders;
  •     have high blood pressure (hypertension);
  •     are breastfeeding;
  •     are at risk of suicide.

Please be informed that you can not take this remedy if you have allergic reactions to any of the ingredients of Antabuse. Remember you need to consult your doctor if you have any allergy in the past. Stop using this medicine and contact your doctor immediately in case you feel allergic reaction. 

Breast Feeding and Pregnancy

Some remedies are not recommended to be taken in the period of breastfeeding or pregnancy . Though, there are medicines which may be safely used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Do not forget to tell your doctor if you are planning pregnancy or if your are pregnant.


 This specific medicine may be prescribed during pregnancy in case if the expected benefit to the mother and foetus is greater than the possible risk to the foetus. Avoid taking Antabuse during the first trimester.

 However there wasn’t found any information concerning the safety of the remedy while breastfeeding. That is why it is not recommended to take it by breastfeeding mothers. Talk to your doctor according this issue.

Label Warnings:

 If affected do not drive or operate machinery. This medication may cause drowsiness. Don’t drink alcohol.


What are possible side effects?

This remedy can affect different people in different ways. Below is the list of side effects that are connected with this remedy. But it doesn’t mean that everyone who takes Antabuse will experience the

Following side effects:

  •     Nausea and vomiting
  •     Drowsiness
  •     Tiredness
  •     Decreased sex drive
  •     Bad breath
  •     Allergic skin rash
  •     Mood changes, strange or abnormal thoughts or depression
  •     Liver problems

Please be informed that there might be other side effects. Please check the information provided with the remedy or talk to your doctor to learn more about any other possible side effect.

How can this remedy affect other remedies?

Note: you need to inform your doctor about all drugs and medications you are taking before you start treatment with this pill. This includes those remedies that you have purchased without prescription as well as herbal medicines.

Make sure you check the components of every product you use as some liquid medicines, tonics, toiletries and sprays may contain alcohol. Contact your doctor if you have any questions.

Disulfiram increases the anti-blood-clotting effect of the anticoagulant warfarin. In case this drug is taking along with warfarin, a small amount of warfarin can be enough to avoid bleeding.

Disulfiram inhibits the metabolism of the following specifics and may increase their blood levels and the risk of

Possible side effects:

  • benzodiazepines such as diazepam and temazepam
  • chlordiazepoxide
  • imipramine
  • phenytoin
  • desipramine
  • theophylline

If any of the following are taken together with this drug there may be an increase in confusion and changes in mood:

  • metronidazole
  • isoniazid
  • paraldehyde must be avoided during the treatment
  • amitriptyline may increase the effect of disulfiram and person can experience a more intense disulfiram reaction if to drink alcohol.


Disulfiram should be stored at room temperature, in a tightly closed container. Protect from moisture, direct heat, and light. Do not store in the bathroom or near a sink. Keep Disulfiram out of the reach of children and away from animals.

Warning: Before taking the drug you need to consult your doctor.The information contained in this article is not intended to cover all possibleprecautions, drug interactions, adverse effects, directions, uses, allergic reactions or warnings.


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