Uses of Disulfiram in Addiction Treatment

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Disulfiram is a medication that helps people stay sober. It’s important in recovery and aftercare programs.

This guide explores how the disulfiram drug helps people remain alcohol-free and shows you how to get effective treatment for alcohol addiction.

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What Is Disulfiram?

Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a medication approved by the FDA for treating alcohol use disorders). For more than sixty years, it has helped people who want to stop drinking. It works by making alcohol intake unpleasant, causing discomfort, and making people more sensitive to alcohol. 

When alcohol is broken down in the body, disulfiram stops the process, leading to the buildup of a harmful substance called acetaldehyde. This causes unpleasant symptoms, discouraging further drinking. So, disulfiram is a key part of helping people on their journey to recover from alcohol addiction.

What Does Disulfiram Treat?

Disulfiram is a helpful treatment for alcohol use disorder. It’s given after all alcohol leaves the body because it reacts badly with alcohol. You take it as a tablet every morning. At first, you might get a strong dose to fight the urge to drink. Later, the dose changes based on how well you’re doing.

After rehab, your doctor might ask to see you every few weeks to check on you. They’ll talk about how you’re doing and decide when to stop the medication.

Unlike other drugs for alcoholism, disulfiram doesn’t affect the brain. Instead, it changes how your body handles alcohol. When you drink alcohol, disulfiram leads to the production of a harmful chemical in your body. This chemical gives you a bad feeling, like a hangover. You feel this disulfiram reaction within 30 minutes of drinking alcohol.

If you mix Disulfiram with alcohol, it can make you feel sick. You might throw up, get headaches, or have trouble breathing. This means it’s important to take it how your doctor says.

A man looks off to the distance, representing disulfiram reaction

Why Is Disulfiram Important for Addiction Treatment?

Disulfiram plays a vital role in addiction treatment for several reasons:

  • Stops drinking: Disulfiram makes people sick if they drink alcohol. This helps them avoid drinking and stay sober.
  • Supports sobriety: Disulfiram stops the body from breaking down a chemical in alcohol. This makes drinking feel even worse and helps the person stay away from alcohol.
  • Part of the bigger picture: Disulfiram works best with other treatments like counseling and support groups. It helps with both the physical and mental parts of alcohol addiction.
  • Helps with long-term recovery: Disulfiram can be used short-term or long-term. It helps people avoid drinking at the start and helps them as they continue to recover.
  • Lowers relapse risk: Disulfiram makes drinking alcohol so unpleasant that it reduces the chance of relapsing. This helps people stay committed to their recovery and have a better chance of staying sober for good.

Where Can I Get Disulfiram Treatment for Alcoholism?

If you want to try disulfiram for alcoholism, here are some places to check out:

  • Doctors: Talk to your primary care doctor or an addiction specialist. They can see if disulfiram is right for you.
  • Rehab centers: Many rehab centers offer disulfiram as part of their treatment programs. These centers provide a safe and structured environment for recovery.
  • Outpatient clinics: Some clinics and counseling centers can also prescribe disulfiram. These places allow you to get treatment while keeping up with your daily routine.
  • Telehealth services: You can now talk with healthcare providers online and get disulfiram prescriptions. This makes it easy to get care from home.
  • Support groups: Groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and SMART Recovery can help you find resources and support for using disulfiram. Talking to others who have used the medication can be helpful.

By exploring these avenues, you can find the support and guidance you need to start disulfiram treatment and embark on your journey to recovery from alcoholism. Always remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication.

Disulfiram | FAQs

What are the side effects of disulfiram?

Side effects of disulfiram can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness if you drink alcohol while taking it. It works by making you feel sick when you drink alcohol, which can help some people stop drinking.

Who is disulfiram for?

Disulfiram is for people who want to stop drinking alcohol. It’s often used as part of a treatment program to help people stay sober and avoid drinking.

image depicting california detox what is disulfiram

Get Medication-Assisted Detox at California Detox

If you need medication-assisted treatment for alcoholism, we can help you at California Detox in Laguna Beach.

Take advantage of our medical detox program to begin your recovery. Access medications to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and 24/7 care to minimize complications. After detox, you’ll move into ongoing inpatient treatment at our rehab by the beach.

All California Detox treatment programs are personalized. Treatments include:

For medically-assisted detox and addiction treatment, call 949.694.8305.


Avoid anything with alcohol in it, like certain foods, drinks, and medicines. Also, stay away from mouthwash and cologne with alcohol. Drinking alcohol while on disulfiram can make you very sick.
Not all medical detox centers use disulfiram. Some centers may use other treatments based on what works best for each person. Ask a doctor about the best options for you.


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