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Antabuse is an alcohol-averse medication used to help people with an alcohol dependence quit drinking due to unpleasant side effects caused through an interaction with this medication.

Disulfiram is an enzyme that metabolizes in your blood to inhibit alcohol metabolism which causes adverse effects when combined with alcohol. The drug does not decrease cravings for alcohol but discourages its use through its interaction with the drug.

This alcohol-averse drug is safe and effective when used in the short-term and under supervision. The effects resulting from an interaction between alcohol and disulfiram discourage alcohol use. These symptoms include excessive sweating, increased heartbeat, flushing, nausea, and vertigo.

Uses and Dosage

The dose of Antabuse prescribed will vary depending on the individual being treated. Always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking a new medication and read packaging labels carefully.

  • Swallow tablet whole
  • Do not take for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol
  • Most adults take up to 500mg once daily for one or two weeks
  • The average maintenance dose is 250mg once daily
  • Adults should not take more than 500mg daily
  • Antabuse is normally taken in the morning
  • Antabuse maintenance therapy should continue until patient is socially recovered and has a basis for self-control against drinking
  • Wear an identification tag that you use disulfiram
  • Counseling and/or monitoring may be recommended on top of Antabuse
  • Store at room temperature away from moisture and light

Side Effects

Antabuse may cause some side effects to develop as it inhibits certain metabolizing enzymes. Speak with your doctor for more information regarding symptoms you may encounter when taking disulfiram.

Common Antabuse side effects:

  • Skin rash, acne
  • Mild headache, tiredness
  • Impotence, reduced sex drive
  • Metallic or garlic-like taste in the mouth

Even small amounts of alcohol can produce adverse side effects when it interacts with the disulfiram in Antabuse. These symptoms include the following:

  • Flushing
  • Sweating, increased thirst
  • Swelling, rapid weight gain
  • Nausea, severe vomiting
  • Neck pain, throbbing headaches, blurred vision
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest
  • Confusion, weakness, spinning sensation, feeling unsteady
  • Light-headed, feeling like you might pass out

More severe reactions may occur when large amounts of alcohol are consumed while taking Antabuse. These symptoms may include severe chest pain spreading from your jaw or shoulder, slow heart rate, weak pulse, seizure, fainting, weak or shallow breathing.

Disulfiram-alcohol reactions can be fatal, mix these substances with caution.

Serious Side Effects

Some more serious side effects may occur when taking Antabuse. Stop using this medication and contact your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Eyes pain or sudden vision loss
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Confusion, unusual thoughts or behaviour
  • Signs of liver problems (nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, jaundice)

Allergic Reactions

Do not use Antabuse if you are allergic to disulfiram. Consult with your doctor if you are allergic to rubber. If you notice signs of an allergic reaction, stop using this drug and call your doctor immediately.

Antabuse allergy symptoms may include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of face, lips, tonuge, or throat


Avoid situations that might tempt you to drink alcohol while taking this medication.

Avoid encountering non-consumable products that contain alcohol to reduce your risk of having a reaction. Some products include paint thinners, solvents, stains, and lacquers.

Do not take Antabuse recently after taking metronidazole or paraldehyde to avoid adverse effects.

Avoid using this drug right after having consumed any foods or products containing alcohol, such as mouthwash, cough medicine, cooking wine or vinegar, and some desserts.

Do not take Antabuse within 12 hours of drinking alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication or for up to 14 days after stopping treatment.

Never give Antabuse to someone without their knowledge.

Avoid using Antabuse if you have severe heart disease or a blockage in your heart arteries or if you have been diagnosed with psychosis.

To ensure the safety of taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, history of heart attack or stroke
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Seizures or epilepsy
  • Head injury or brain damage
  • Mental illness
  • An allergy to rubber
  • If you take phenytoin, tuberculosis medicine, or a blood thinner

Many common products contain small amounts of alcohol which could cause a reaction with Antabuse. Check labels on foods and medicines before ingesting and speak with your pharmacist for more guidance. Some popular products include aftershave, cologne, antiperspirant, mouthwash, antiseptic astringent skin products, hair dyes, and more.

Some other medications may interact with disulfiram and cause unwanted effects. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including over the counter medication, vitamins, and herbal products, but especially the following:

  • Seizure medications
  • Blood thinners
  • isoniazid

Form and Strength

This alcohol-aversive medication is available in tablet form.

Antabuse tablet strengths:

  • 250mg
  • 500mg

The 250mg tablets are available in quantities of 100 while the 500mg ones are available in quantities of 25 or 50.


How long does Antabuse take to start working?

Antabuse tablets are easily absorbed into your system and will cause an adverse reaction right away if alcohol is consumed after a dose is taken.

When should I take Antabuse?

Antabuse doses are taken once a day, generally in the morning. This alcohol-averse medication may cause a sedative effect, if this happens you can take your doses in the evening to avoid drowsiness during the day.

How long will I need to take Antabuse for?

The duration of your Antabuse treatment will depend on the severity of your dependence and your response to treatment. Antabuse is generally taken alongside counseling and other forms of support and its use should be discontinued once you have reached a state where you are less likely to go back to drinking. Most people need treatment for at least 3 months up to a year or more.



Additional information

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Scientific Name:


Other Names:

Antabus, Esperal


250mg, 500mg

Quantities Available:

25, 50, 100