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All about: Disulfiram

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Generic Name: Disulfiram (dye-SUL-fi-ram)
Brand Name: Antabuse

Disulfiram must not be given to patients under the influence of alcohol or without their permission.


Disulfiram is used for:

Treating alcoholism.

Disulfiram is an alcohol-abuse deterrent. It works by blocking the breakdown of alcohol, causing unpleasant side effects (eg, vomiting, upset stomach) when even a small amount of alcohol is consumed.

Do NOT use Disulfiram if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Disulfiram or other similar medicines
  • you are under the influence of alcohol
  • you have severe heart disease, a blockage of your heart arteries, or a mental disorder (eg, psychosis)
  • you are taking metronidazole or an alcohol-containing medicine (eg, certain HIV protease inhibitors [eg, amprenavir], cough syrups, other liquid medicines)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Disulfiram :

Some medical conditions may interact with Disulfiram . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances (eg, latex rubber)
  • if you have brain damage, diabetes, heart or lung disease, mental or mood problems (eg, depression), an underactive thyroid, seizures, or liver or kidney problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Disulfiram . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Alcohol-containing medicines (eg, certain HIV protease inhibitors [eg, amprenavir], cough syrups, other liquid medicines) or metronidazole because the risk of severe side effects may be increased
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), benzodiazepines (eg, diazepam), isoniazid, or phenytoin because side effects may be increased by Disulfiram

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Disulfiram may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Disulfiram :

Use Disulfiram as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Disulfiram may be taken with or without food.
  • Disulfiram may be swallowed whole, chewed, or crushed and mixed with food.
  • Do not take the first dose of Disulfiram for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol.
  • If you miss a dose of Disulfiram , take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Disulfiram .

Important safety information:

  • Disulfiram may cause drowsiness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to Disulfiram . Using Disulfiram alone, with certain other medicines, or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or perform other potentially dangerous tasks.
  • Avoid all alcohol including alcohol found in sauces, vinegar, mouthwash, liquid medicines, lotions, after shave, or backrub products. A reaction to alcohol may cause flushing, nausea, thirst, abdominal pain, chest pain, dizziness, vomiting, fast breathing, fast heartbeat, fainting, difficulty breathing, or confusion. Use caution when using topical products containing alcohol, such as cologne or perfume. Before using alcohol-containing products on the skin, test the product by applying some to a small area of the skin. If no redness, itching, headache, or nausea occurs after 1 or 2 hours, you should be able to use the product. You may have a reaction if you drink alcohol or use a product that contains alcohol for 2 weeks after your last dose of Disulfiram .
  • Notify your doctor immediately if you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite, or nausea and vomiting. These may be signs of a liver problem.
  • Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using Disulfiram .
  • Carry an identification card at all times that says you are taking Disulfiram .
  • LAB TESTS, including liver function tests and complete blood cell counts, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Disulfiram with extreme caution in CHILDREN. Safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Disulfiram during pregnancy. It is unknown if Disulfiram is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Disulfiram .

Possible side effects of Disulfiram :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Drowsiness; headache; metallic or garlic taste in mouth.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blurred vision; changes in color vision; dark urine; loss of appetite; mental or mood problems; nausea; numbness or tingling of the arms or legs; seizures; tiredness; vomiting; weakness; yellowing of the eyes or skin.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Disulfiram :

Store Disulfiram at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Disulfiram out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Disulfiram , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Disulfiram is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Disulfiram . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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