Disulfiram

Disulfiram is used to treat chronic alcoholism. Do not drink any alcoholic beverages while taking disulfiram.

Disulfiram Overview

Reviewed: September 11, 2013
Updated: 

Disulfiram is a prescription medication used to treat chronic alcoholism.

Disulfiram is an alcohol antagonist. This drug produces sensitivity to alcohol and causes an unpleasant reaction when alcohol is consumed. Symptoms of a disulfiram-alcohol reaction include flushing, throbbing of the head and neck, throbbing headache, respiratory difficulty, nausea, copious vomiting, sweating, thirst, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, increased heartrate, decreased blood pressure, uneasiness, weakness, vertigo, blurred vision, and confusion.

This medication comes in tablet form and is taken once a day.

Common side effects of disulfiram include skin rash, acne, headache, tiredness, impotence, and a metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth.

Disulfiram can also cause blurred vision and drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how disulfiram affects you.

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Disulfiram Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautions

Uses of Disulfiram

Disulfiram is a prescription medication used to treat chronic alcoholism.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Disulfiram Brand Names

Disulfiram may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Disulfiram Drug Class

Disulfiram is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Disulfiram

Serious side effects have been reported with disulfiram. See the “Disulfiram Precautions” section.

Common side effects seen during the first 2 weeks of disulfiram therapy often include:

  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • acne
  • changes in taste (metallic or garlic-like)
  • impotence
  • skin rash

These side effects tend to be mild and usually only last a short time.

Disulfiram, if taken with even small amounts of alcohol, can cause unpleasant effects. These effects include:

  • flushing of the face
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • weakness
  • blurred vision
  • mental confusion
  • sweating
  • choking
  • breathing difficulty
  • anxiety

These effects begin about 10 minutes after alcohol enters the body and last for at least an hour.Do not drink any alcoholic beverages(including wine, beer, and medications that contain alcohol such as cough syrup) while taking disulfiram, during the 12-hour period before you take your first dose, and for several weeks after stopping the drug.

This is not a complete list of disulfiram side effects.Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Disulfiram Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
  • isoniazid
  • metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • any nonprescription drugs that might contain alcohol

This is not a complete list of disulfiram drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Disulfiram Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with disulfiram including the following:

  • Liver toxicity. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms of liver toxicity:
    • excessive fatigue or weakness
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • yellowing of the skin or eyes
    • dark urine

Disulfiram can also cause blurred vision and drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how disulfiram affects you.

Do not take disulfiram if you:

  • are allergic to disulfiram or to any of its ingredients
  • are allergic to thiuram derivatives used in pesticides and rubber vulcanization
  • have recently taken metronidazole, paraldehyde, alcohol, or alcohol-containing preparations such as cough syrups and tonics
  • have severe myocardial disease or coronary occlusion
  • have psychoses

Disulfiram Food Interactions

Patients must avoid alcohol while taking disulfiram.

Inform MD

Before taking disulfiram, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to disulfiram or to any of its ingredients
  • are allergic to thiuram derivatives used in pesticides and rubber vulcanization
  • have diabetes
  • have thyroid disease
  • have epilepsy
  • have or have had brain damage
  • have or have had kidney disease
  • have or have had liver disease
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Disulfiram and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Safe use of disulfiram during pregnancy has not been established. Disulfiram should only be used during pregnancy when the probable benefits outweigh the risks.

Disulfiram and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

It is not known if disulfiram crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, disulfiram should not be used by nursing mothers.

Disulfiram Usage

Take disulfiram exactly as prescribed.

This medication comes in tablet form and is taken once a day.

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of disulfiram at the same time.

Disulfiram Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • how you respond to this medication

The recommended maintenance dose range of disulfiram for the treatment of chronic alcoholism is 125 to 500 mg daily. The average maintenance dose is 250 mg daily. Therapy may be continued until the patient is fully capable of permanent self-control and recovered socially from the abuse of alcohol.

Disulfiram Overdose

If you take too much disulfiram, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If disulfiram is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Do not take this medication within 12 hours of consuming any type or form of alcohol.

Disulfiram FDA Warning

WARNING

Disulfiram should never be administered to a patient when he is in a state of alcohol intoxication, or without his full knowledge.

The physician should instruct relatives accordingly.