What are Antabuse Implants?

Published On: August 27, 2015

Ever wondered what are Antabuse implants? If you’ve found yourself asking this question then know you’re not alone. At Rehab 4 Alcoholism we get more enquiries about Antabuse than all other forms of alcohol treatment combined.

A brief history of Antabuse

Antabuse was discovered in the1920s and it is the trademark for a drug called ‘disulfiram’. In the US, Antabuse is the oldest FDA approved drug for treating alcoholism. Antabuse causes users to exhibit an uncomfortable sensitivity to alcohol. If alcohol is consumed Antabuse precipitates symptoms akin to a very bad hangover.

The science behind Antabuse

In the body, alcohol is converted to an intermediary chemical known as ‘acetaldehyde’. Acetaldehyde is the chemical responsible for symptoms following a heavy night’s drinking session, also known as a hangover. Acetaldehyde is eventually broken down by an enzyme known as ‘acetaldehyde dehydrogenase’ in the liver. The liver breaks down acetaldehyde into a harmless chemical known as acetic acid.

Antabuse works by blocking the acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme. This is known as a ‘disulfiram-ethanol reaction’ (DER). Since acetaldehyde dehydrogenase is rendered inactive, acetaldehyde builds up causing acute hangover type symptoms. These symptoms are experienced within as little as ten minutes after alcohol was consumed. The Antabuse user will feel uneasy for several hours thereafter. Antabuse is slowly digested in the gut. It takes the body several weeks to expel Antabuse from your system.

Antabuse is not as common today as it was a decade ago. A cocktail of naltrexone and acamprosate is more common alcohol deterrent.

Some may choose to receive Antabuse implants where a pellet is fitted beneath the skin of the abdomen. These implants last for around 12 months after inserted. The NHS may prescribe Antabuse but only in pill form. It is common for patients to travel to countries such as Poland or Latvia in order to receive Antabuse implant surgery. Antabuse implants are thought to be popular with women in their late 30s and 40s.

Symptoms when alcohol is mixed with Antabuse

Users of Antabuse are likely to experience the below symptoms following alcohol consumption:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Flushing
  • Malaise

In severe cases, mixing alcohol with Antabuse may lead to heart failure and death.

Major drawbacks of Antabuse

Antabuse is not a legitimate substitute for a medically assisted alcohol detox. In fact, Antabuse should never be confused with detox. This is because Antabuse will not reduce withdrawal symptoms experienced during detox. Therefore, Antabuse users who also suffer from alcoholism are likely to drink alcohol when using Antabuse and experience pain as a result.

We only recommend Antabuse to non-alcoholics looking to stop drinking or recovered alcoholics who have successfully completed a detox. Antabuse consumption should always be supplemented with counselling and therapy sessions.

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