I still remember the night where I was staring down at my half-consumed packet of Antabuse (disulfiram), trying to work out when I had my last dose.
See, this night wasn’t going so well, cravings were high, and I had a slab of Heineken sitting on the kitchen bench, relapse was imminent.
See, Antabuse is an anti-alcoholism drug, and when paired with alcohol, the symptoms that arise aren’t so pleasant. So, while I was fully aware of the consequences of consuming alcohol with this particular alcoholism medication, I cracked a bottle and the relapse commenced.
This paints a picture and brings us to the question, Is Antabuse (disulfiram) an effective way to quit alcohol addiction? Does this alcoholism medication work?
Understanding Antabuse: An Anti-Alcoholism Drug in Australia
Antabuse, also known as Disulfiram, is a widely recognized medication in the battle against alcoholism, both in Australia and globally. Its unique mechanism of causing adverse reactions when mixed with alcohol makes it a deterrent for those trying to abstain. However, its effectiveness is not just about inducing physical discomfort; it also plays a psychological role in reinforcing sobriety.
Antabuse (Disulfiram) is believed to assist with alcohol addiction through its ability to block an enzyme known as aldehyde dehydrogenase (Stokes & Abdijadid, 2021). We need this enzyme to metabolise acetaldehyde, a byproduct that is created in the body when we consume alcohol. Acetaldehyde actually contributes significantly to the symptoms of a hangover.
Unlike other medications for alcohol addiction such as Naltrexone, Acamprosate (Campral), and Topiramate, Antabuse doesn’t work by curbing cravings. Instead, it targets the metabolic process, making the act of drinking physically intolerable. This unique approach places Antabuse in a different category of addiction treatment options.
The concept behind Antabuse is to create a strong association between alcohol consumption and unpleasant symptoms. This psychological barrier is often what prevents individuals from taking that first sip. However, the medication’s success largely depends on the individual’s commitment to abstaining from alcohol and the support system they have in place.
My Relapse: A Real-Life Experience with Antabuse (Disulfiram)
Knowing the potential consequences did not prevent my relapse, illustrating the complexity of alcohol addiction. This experience shed light on a critical aspect of recovery: the need for a comprehensive approach that addresses not just the physical but also the psychological facets of addiction.
The incident of my relapse while on Antabuse raises important questions about dependency and the psychological battles faced during recovery. It underlines the fact that medications like Antabuse are tools, rather than cures, in the journey towards long-term sobriety.
When I used Antabuse, I honestly took it for granted, thinking it was the magic pill to end all alcohol addiction, it was not. it does raise a good question though, does this medication work?
There’s no doubt about it, from my own experience, Antabuse (Disulfiram) does make you second guess having a drink when you’re on the medication But what if you just, I don’t know, chose not to take it? What is the compliance rate? Is this a long-term solution to alcohol addiction?
I mean, I can tell you now, before we go into the research, that it isn’t.
Evaluating the Efficacy of Antabuse (Disulfiram) in Alcohol Addiction Treatment
From my personal experience and available research, the effectiveness of Antabuse in the team of alcohol addiction treatment is a mixed bag. On one hand, it certainly makes you think twice before taking a drink due to the immediate physical repercussions. On the other hand, it’s role as a long-term solution is questionable.
If we look at a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the researchers concluded Antabuse (Disulfiram) is effective for the maintenance of abstinence in patients.
On the flip side, if you look into this study a little closer, they also deemed Antabuse (Disulfiram) ineffective for increasing abstinence, making it more of a short-term solution (Yoshimura et al., 2014).
Another study compared the efficacy of Antabuse (Disulfiram) to Naltrexone, another drug that assists with alcohol addiction and dependence.
Naltrexone works a little differently from Disulfiram, working as an antagonist towards our opioid receptors; it essentially blunts the stimulation or “euphoric high” one would usually get from consuming drugs or alcohol, which also means you can still consume booze while on this form of medication.
The study associated Disulfiram with a greater reduction in relapse and better control and reduction in drinking (because you pretty much can’t). Naltrexone, on the other hand, was better at reducing craving, even though patients could still drink (De Sousa & De Sousa, 2004).
Cumulatively, Antabuse (Disulfiram) still has a strong position in stopping alcohol addiction immediately, but this may only be a band-aid solution, like most medications.
Should I take Antabuse (Disulfiram) for Alcohol Addiction?
If you are looking for a solution to get off booze immediately, so you can begin your journey towards integrating long-term sobriety solutions, then this is a viable option.
When it comes to taking Antabuse in Australia, its efficacy is the issue of compliance. What I mean is, Antabuse requires a commitment to ongoing use, and its effectiveness is contingent upon continual use of the medication.
So if you plan on taking this medication while implementing long-term strategies, perfect. If you do not, Antabuse is just a bandaid to a solution you’re not fixing underneath.
Below are some articles you can use to focus on some long-term solutions.
Staying Sober: 5 Simple Habits You Should Be Doing To Sustain Long-Term Sobriety
Nutrition in Addiction Recovery: Understanding Key Nutrients in Early Sobriety
Leaps of Faith and the Importance of Burning Your Bridges
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Antabuse (Disulfiram) Help With Alcohol Addiction in Australia?
Its mechanism of action involves inhibiting the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, crucial for metabolizing acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol. The accumulation of acetaldehyde leads to immediate and unpleasant symptoms, acting as a strong deterrent against alcohol consumption.
How Effective is Antabuse (Disulfiram) for Long-term Sobriety in Australia?
If you want an immediate deterrent to stop drinking, it’s fairly effective short term. Its effectiveness as a long-term solution for increasing abstinence is debatable, as it provides so long-term support mechanism.
What are the Side Effects of Using Antabuse (Disulfiram) with Alcohol?
Common side effects of Antabuse include headaches, nausea, increased heart rate, and anything you can attribute to a very bad hangover. It is extremely dangerous to consume it with alcohol.
How to Start Antabuse (Disulfiram) Treatment for Alcoholism in Australia?
Antabuse is taken orally and available by prescription only. It’s recommended to discuss using this medication with a healthcare professional.
What Are Some Alternatives to Antabuse (Disfuliram) Treatment in Australia?
Other medications for treating alcohol addiction include Naltrexone and Acamprosate, each working differently. Medications like Naltrexone work by blunting the euphoria associated with alcohol use. The choice of medication depends on individual needs, and you must discuss it with your healthcare professional to find the most suitable option.
When we look at the evidence, Antabuse (Disulfiram) is a strong candidate for improving relapse short-term, allowing you to integrate long-term sobriety solutions.
Personally, I found Antabuse to be ineffective for me because it did not address the underlying cause; it created the illusion that I had quit booze, but without it, I could easily go back (Heck, I did it while on it, and that’s saying something).
Cravings were big for me, and Antabuse didn’t help me with that, although this simple, relatively affordable nutritional supplement did.
Of course, I would love to hear your personal experience with Disulfiram, other alcohol-dependence drugs, or perhaps how you deal with alcohol cravings.
If you have any feedback regarding this article, reach out. Help Clarity reach more people and quit addiction by following us on Instagram, it’s also the perfect place to message us and ask questions!
- DE SOUSA, A., & DE SOUSA, A. (2004). A one-year pragmatic trial of naltrexone vs disulfiram in the treatment of alcohol dependence. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 39(6), 528-531. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agh104
- Stokes M, Abdijadid S. Disulfiram. [Updated 2021 Jul 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459340/
- Yoshimura, A., Kimura, M., Nakayama, H., Matsui, T., Okudaira, F., Akazawa, S., Ohkawara, M., Cho, T., Kono, Y., Hashimoto, K., Kumagai, M., Sahashi, Y., Roh, S., & Higuchi, S. (2013). Efficacy of disulfiram for the treatment of alcohol dependence assessed with a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38(2), 572-578. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.12278
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.