Alcohol Problems? Want To Try Disulfiram?

By: Terje Brooks Ellingsen

In this article, and two more coming the next weeks, we will take a closer look at disulfiram and alcoholism treatment. 

Disulfiram; A Brief History

Disulfiram or TETD was in the beginning a chemical used in the rubber production in the early 1900's. In 1937, workers who were too closely exposed to TETD experienced a reaction as soon as they start drinking.  The alcohol consume caused their faces turn red and they started to suffer from unpleasant symptoms; hypotension and tachycardia were pretty common in addition to others.  The doctor who first noticed this suggested that disulfiram might be effective for getting people with alcohol problems to stop drinking.  Unfortunately nobody listened to him.  

Experiments with disulfiram continued.  In the 1940's, two scientists who were experimenting with using it to see what effect it had on the respiratory system of lower life forms made some important discoveries.  In the spirit of science , the men took a dose of TETD themselves to see what would happen.  What did happen was that they couldn't even go near a drop of alcohol without getting sick.  Through this, it was discovered that disulfiram or TETD has an effect on how we metabolize alcohol, and in a short time, doctors were prescribing it to alcoholic patients. 

In the early 1960's, this drug fell out of favor.  This was because, since its discovery, doctors had been prescribing doses that were too high, which caused their patients having severe reactions.  Sensibly enough, they figured they needed a high dose in order for it to interact with alcohol.  In the 1950's, a common daily dose might be as much as 3,000 mg.  While it worked in keeping them off the bottle, it also caused some nasty side effects.  More experiments were carried out and, since the 1960's, the normal does has been something like 500 mg a day.  The dosage depends on several factors, including how severe an alcohol addict the patient is.  Doctors have refined their techniques for prescribing TETD since the advent of its use. 

How Is Disulfiram Used Clinical?

When treating alcoholism, the first thing to do is to make him to stop drinking alcohol.  Then, he must be detoxified; the poison of alcohol must be eliminated from his body.

He or she then need to stay sober for a period which is necessary in order to restore his brain chemistry to normal.  TETD is most effective early in the treatment process, helping the addict to simply avoid drinking. Furthermore, it may be smart to keep taking disulfiram for about a year, this to prevent relapsing.  Family members and friends can be of great help if they watch the patient closely to make sure he or she is taking the medication as prescribed. 

Like alkaseltzer, disulfiram is dissolved in water.  After drinking it down, another glass of clean water should drunk next.  It is best for the patient to take the first one in the doctor's office, under the doctor's supervision, more than 12 hours since the last alcohol drink.  This is very important.  It helps to do it in the office so that the patient isn't tempted to have one last one on his or her way home.

For the alcohol addict to stop drinking, just taking the TETD pills isn't enough.  The patient should attend Alcoholics Anonymous or another alcohol addiction support group.  They should go to the group meetings on a regular basisPsychology Articles, and they should also keep up their medication as the doctor has prescribed.   I will follow up with a new article about disulfiram soon.

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