Disulfiram - The Solution For Alcohol Problems?


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For almost fifty years, disulfiram or TETD, has been a staple for alcohol addicts trying to quit. It is estimated that about 200,000 people use the medication regularly to help them stay sober. In this article, and two more coming the next weeks, we will take a closer look at disulfiram and alcoholism treatment.

The History Of Disulfiram

Disulfiram or TETD was originally a chemical used in the manufacture of rubber in the early 1900's. In 1937, it was discovered that workers who were too closely exposed to TETD developed a reaction if they drank alcohol. If one of these workers consumed alcohol, his face would turn red and he would suffer from unpleasant symptoms like hypotension and tachycardia. This was noticed by a physician, and he suggested that disulfiram might be effective for getting people to stop drinking. As it often is with great inventions, 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.

The Clinical Use Of Disulfiram

The first step to treat an alcoholic is for him to stop the alcohol drinking. Next, he must be detoxified, followed by a period of being sober. This period is mandatory in order to restore his brain chemistry to normal. Disulfiram is most effective early on, helping the patient to simply avoid drinking. Furthermore, it may be good to keep taking TETD for the next year as a safeguard against relapsing. Friends or family members can help to make sure the patient is taking the medication regularly.

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 basis, and they should also keep up their medication as the doctor has prescribed. I will follow up with a new article about disulfiram soon.

David Richards is a publisher of alcoholism facts and tips as well as related articles. You can go to 1st-Alcoholism-Treatment.com for more alcoholism treatment advice .


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