What is Antabuse?


For years, scientists have been working hard to try to come up with the cure for alcoholism.  They have discovered that certain people are more genetically inclined to develop it and once an alcoholic begins drinking, it is hard for them to stop.  When a person drinks alcohol and does other pleasurable acts, the brain releases an overabundance of dopamine, which contributes to the high that an alcoholic is after.  There have been prescription medications that block receptors in the brain, which prohibits a person from feeling the high that certain substances cause.

Antabuse is a different approach to the treatment of alcoholism.  Instead of changing the way a person’s brain reacts and making it so they don’t crave alcohol, antabuse makes a person violently ill if they consume alcohol.  When you drink alcohol, you’re ingesting ethanol, which causes you to become intoxicated.  Ethanol is naturally broken down in your body by alcohol dehydrogenase, which turns into acetaldehyde.  A buildup of acetaldehyde ultimately contributes to unpleasant effects such as nausea, headache, sweating, thirst, and confusion.  These symptoms are more commonly known as a hangover.

The active ingredient in antabuse is disulfiram, which works by mocking the effects of an extreme hangover.  A person who consumes alcohol while taking this prescription medication does not get to experience the effect of alcohol before it fully metabolizes.  Instead, antabuse causes the person to have an immediate reaction to the medication by blocking the enzyme which metabolizes ethanol.  Antabuse mocks the symptoms of an extremely severe hangover and was created as more of a reactive approach to alcoholism.

Antabuse is a pill taken daily, but its effects may stay in the body for weeks after you stop taking it.  Certain products containing alcohol such as mouthwash, aftershave, cough medicine, and cooking wine could all cause reactions with antabuse.  Antabuse isn’t for everybody and only those serious in overcoming their alcohol addiction should take it.  If you drink alcohol during antabuse treatment, life threatening reactions could occur.  While the medication is used as a deterrent and to encourage abstinence, many alcoholics still drink while using it.

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