PATIENT INFORMATION ON DISULFIRAM
Disulfiram is primarily used as a deterrent to alcohol use/abuse.
How quickly will the drug start working?
Disulfiram inhibits the breakdown of alcohol in the body, resulting in a build-up of a chemical called acetaldehyde; this results in an unpleasant reaction when alcohol is consumed. This reaction can occur 10-20 minutes after drinking alcohol and may last up to 2 hours.
The reaction consists of: flushing, choking, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure (dizziness). At times the reaction could be fatal.
How long should you take this medication?
Disulfiram is usually prescribed for a set period of time to help the individual stop the use of alcohol. Do not decrease or increase the dose without discussing this with the doctor.
Side effects occur, to some degree, with all medication. They are usually not serious and do not occur in all individuals. They may sometimes occur before beneficial effects of the medication are noticed . If a side effect continues, speak to your doctor about appropriate treatment.
Common side effects that should be reported to your doctor at the next appointment include:
- Drowsiness, lethargy, depression-This problem goes away with time. Use of other drugs that make you drowsy will worsen the problem. Avoid driving a car or operating machinery if drowsiness persists.
- Energizing/ agitated feeling-Some individuals may feel nervous or have difficulty sleeping for a few days after starting this medication.
- Headache-Temporary use of analgesics (e.g., acetaminophen, ASA).
- Skin rash- Contact your doctor.
- Garlic-like taste
Rare side effects you should report to your doctor IMMEDIATELY include:
- Yellow tinge in the eyes or to the skin; dark-colored urine
- Soreness of the mouth, gums, or throat
- Skin rash or itching, swelling of the face
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, fever, or flu- like symptoms
What should you do if you forget to take a dose of your medication?
If you take your total dose of the drug in the morning and you forget to take it for more than 6 hours, skip the missed dose and continue with your schedule the next day. DO NOT DOUBLE THE DOSE.
Interactions with other medication
Because disulfiram can change the effect of other medication, or may be affected by other medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking other drugs, including over-the-counter medication such as cold remedies. Always inform any doctor or dentist that you see that you are taking this medication.
- Do not increase or decrease your without consulting your do
- Report to your doctor any changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood or behavior.
- Avoid all products (food and drugs) containing alcohol, including tonics, cough syrups, mouth washes and alcohol-based sauces. A delay in the reaction may be as long as 24 hours.
- Exposure to alcohol-containing rubs or solvents (e.g., after-shave) may trigger a reaction.
- Carry an identification card stating the name of the drug you are taking.
- Store your medication in a clean, dry area at room temperature. Keep all medication out of the reach of children.
If you have any questions regarding this medication, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse