Disulfiram Antabuse

Disulfiram is used to prevent alcohol ingestion through the fear of the conscqucnccs of ingesting alcohol while taking disulhram (Table 15-1). Disulfiram blocks the oxidation of acetaldehyde, a step in the metabolism of alcohol. The buildup of acetaldehyde produces a toxic reaction, making an individual who ingests alcohol while taking disulfiram severely ill within 5 to 10 minutes. Symptoms include flushing, headache, sweating, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. In more severe reactions, chest pain, dyspnea, hypotension, and confusion occur. Fatal reactions, although rare, can occur. Disulfiram use should be restricted to carefully selected patients who are highly motivated and who fully understand the consequences of drinking alcohol while taking disulfiram. Side effects in the absence of alcohol ingestion include hepatitis, optic neuritis, and impotence.

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