4814 Marietta Street Rohnert Park, CA (PressExposure) May 06, 2009 -- One of the many medications used as treatment for alcoholism is the Disulfiram. Disulfiram is a drug used to support the treatment of chronic alcoholism by producing an acute sensitivity to alcohol. Trade names for disulfiram in different countries are Antabuse and Antabus manufactured by Odyssey Pharmaceuticals.
Effects on Alcohol
Under normal metabolism, alcohol is broken down in the liver by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase to acetaldehyde, which is then converted by the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase to the harmless acetic acid. Disulfiram blocks this reaction at the intermediate stage by blocking the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase.
After alcohol intake under the influence of disulfiram, the concentration of acetaldehyde in the blood may be 5 to 10 times higher than that found during metabolism of the same amount of alcohol alone. As acetaldehyde is one of the major causes of the symptoms of a "hangover" this produces immediate and severe negative reaction to alcohol intake. Some 5â10 minutes after alcohol intake, the patient may experience the effects of a severe hangover for a period of 30 minutes up to several hours.
Common symptoms of disulfiram intake with alcohol include:
Flushing or reddening of the skin, particularly in the head area.
Accelerated heart rate.
Shortness of breath.
Precautions on Disulfiram Intake
As treatment for alcoholism, disulfiram should not be taken if alcohol has been consumed in the last 12 hours. There is no tolerance to disulfiram: the longer it is taken, the stronger its effects. As disulfiram is absorbed slowly through the digestive tract and eliminated slowly by the body, the effects may last for up to 2 weeks after the initial intake. Consequently, medical ethics dictate that patients must be fully informed about the disulfiram-alcohol reaction. Possible side effects while taking Disulfiram are numbness or tingling of the lower legs and shortness of breath. Disulfiram is not given to patients who are not willing to give up alcohol because consumption of alcohol in large quantity after taking the drug can lead to severe ill effects.
Similarly Acting Substances
Other than disulfiram as treatment for alcoholism, coprine (N5-1-hydroxycyclopropyl-L-glutamine) which metabolises to 1-aminocyclopropanol, a closely-related chemical having the same metabolic effects, occurs naturally in the otherwise edible mushroom, the common ink cap (Coprinopsis atramentaria). Similar reactions have been recorded with Clitocybe clavipes and Boletus luridus, although the agent in those species is unknown. Temposil, or citrated calcium carbamide, has the same function as disulfiram, but is weaker and safer.