Is There A Pill For Alcoholics?
When dealing with alcoholism, it’s usually preferable not to fight fire with fire – a drug with a drug. But sometimes there is no other way. The one and only way that’s been found to really hard-core alcoholics from drinking is to give them a drug that will make them terribly sick if they imbibe even a swallow of booze.
That vile but vital medication is disulfiram, or Antabuse, administered as a white tablet that looks like an oversize aspirin.
Antabuse blocks the enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde (the by-product of alcohol metabolism) in the blood. It leaves a metallic or garlicky taste in the mouth and may trigger drowsiness, fatigue and headaches.
But it does much worse to the poor soul who takes it and then dares to drink. Since further metabolism is blocked, acetaldehyde (its closest cousin is embalming fluid) builds up in the blood. The face flushes, the skin gets red, the heart begins to pound; there is nausea, vomiting, headache shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.
It’s reportedly like being seasick and having a migraine headache, an asthma attack and a coronary simultaneously.
Antabuse is not usually given during treatment, or to a person who hasn’t been sober for at least twenty four hours. The daily dose is usually continued for several months. Once a pattern of sobriety is established, a double dose given three times a week is normally satisfactory.
Antabuse use should be individually tailored. For some recoverees, it is only necessary during the transition to sobriety and can be gradually tapered off.
For those with a history of repeated relapse, it may need to be continued for a year or even two. If after two years a patient still feels unable to cop without Antabuse, his or her recovery program needs evaluation.
Antabuse isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t work for any other drug except alcohol. Good candidates are recovering alcoholics who:
- Drink on impulse and are likely to find themselves drinking before they realise what they are doing (this teaches them the hard way to “think before you drink”);
- Are young healthy beginners and can benefit from the education – they must learn to read labels for hidden alcohol and to be up front about their problem to waiters, pushy party hostesses and old drinking buddies. They must watch out for over-the-counter products containing alcohol as a preservative.
- Need to assure their employers they are not drinking (sometimes it is a required part of an employee rehab program); or
- Are going through a particularly stressful or high-risk period.
In the rare person, Antabuse causes no significant reaction and so is ineffective in the usual doses. Strongly motivated patients may agree to have the dosage increased. Also rarely, the drug may cause or exacerbate medical problems, particularly those that affect the heart or respiratory system.
If you are on Antabuse and do ingest alcohol, either intentionally or inadvertently, go to the nearest emergency hospital or call your doctor immediately.
To ensure that you are properly treated if you are in a medical emergency and lose consciousness, carry an Antabuse ID card. Also be sure to inform family and friends as well as hosts, waiters, and anyone else serving you food or drink that you can have absolutely no alcohol.
Nest week I will talk about Campral and Naltrexone drugs used in alcohol recovery.
In the interim, I recommend Tyrosine Mood Food, necessary for the manufacture of dopamine and noradrenaline, which are required for concentration, alertness, memory and a happy, stable mood. Tyrosine is required for the manufacture of adrenalin in the adrenal glands and you are probably suffering with adrenal exhaustion.
The state of the alcoholic’s liver has a big impact on their state of mind so that those with a fatty liver may find themselves irritable and moody with a poor memory and difficulty keeping up with life’s demands. Depression and poor sleep may be associated with a fatty liver and these things resolve when we improve the liver function. You end up the brunt of the alcoholic’s bitterness and it’s not your responsibility to try and fix them.
You can ask them to take a good liver product like Livatone Plus, a powerful formula that can support liver function when there are more serious liver problems due to alcoholism.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid and has been shown to improve brain function in alcoholics, resulting in improved sleep, decreased anxiety and a reduced craving for alcohol.
Vegetable juice has been successfully used to clear out fatty livers too. Juicing, along with the above supplements, B-vitamins and Vitamin C, may be a real long-term help with cirrhosis of the liver.
Dr. Cabot has a great juice book, Raw Juicing Can Save Your Life, that’s easy to follow and has recipes to help rejuvenate your loved one’s fatty liver.
Magnesium Ultra Potent can be taken before bed to assist with a deep and restful sleep. It also helps to reduce stress, very beneficial to a recovering alcoholic.
Magnesium is also known as the “great relaxer”.
Dr. Cabot’s new book, Help for Depression and Anxiety is an excellent read for family and friends living with an alcoholic.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.