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Using Antabuse to Maintain Sobriety

Medicine for Those Who Have Already Stopped Drinking


Updated June 10, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Antabuse Pill

Antabuse Pill

Antabuse, also known as disulfiram, was the first medication approved in the United States for helping problem drinkers remain sober. It was originally developed as a treatment of parasitic infestations by a pharmaceutical company in Denmark. The drug's interaction with alcohol was discovered accidentally in 1948.

Antabuse works by causing a severe physical reaction if alcohol is consumed while taking the drug. The longer the drug is taken, the more effective it becomes and the more severe the reaction.

Antabuse Treatment for Alcoholism
Antabuse is intended to be used by people who have already stopped drinking for at least 12 hours. The negative reactions it produces when someone taking it consumes alcohol can vary widely.

Long-Term Antabuse Treatment Shows Big Results
A nine-year study of chronic alcoholics in Europe, where alcohol-deterrent drugs such as disulfiram are more widely used than in the United States, revealed that the psychological effects of long-term treatment can produce abstinence rates of more than 50 percent.

Implant Alcohol Treatment Popular Among Professional Women
Professional women who drink secretly at home and do not wish to harm their reputations by seeking traditional alcohol treatment are turning to clinics in Eastern Europe which offer an Antabuse implant treatment not available in the USA or the U.K.

Can You Drink Nonalcoholic Beer While on Antabuse?
A visitor to the About.com Alcoholism website said her husband claims he was drinking nonalcoholic beer while taking Antabuse after she smelled beer on his breath. But was he really?

Are There Other Medical Treatments for Alcoholism?
There are other medications designed to help people stop drinking, or more specifically remain stopped. They work in different ways than Antabuse.

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