Document Detail

The clinical use of disulfiram (Antabuse): a review.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  3069984     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Disulfiram is a potent alcohol-sensitizing drug, the effectiveness of which remains unproven in the treatment of alcoholism after 40 years of use. Its clinical utility is more closely associated with nonspecific, nonpharmacological factors (such as social class, patient compliance, patient personality characteristics, and treatment structure) than with its aversive biochemistry. Disulfiram is not effective as a sole alternative to a structured treatment program. Disulfiram retains a place in standard alcoholism treatment programs because clinicians have found this agent useful for selected alcoholic patients. Clinical studies and clinical lore describe these patients as older, relapse-prone, socially stable, cognitively intact, not depressed, compulsive, capable of following rules, and tolerant of dependence. Another distinctly responsive (but evasive) group is court-probated patients. These characteristics also describe patients who are well-known to have good outcomes without disulfiram, thus they do not help clinicians to select suitable patients for this medication. Consequently, this article proposes the following selection criteria: (1) patients who can tolerate a treatment relationship; (2) patients who are relapse-prone (but in treatment); (3) patients who have failed with less structured approaches; (4) patients in early abstinence who are in crisis or under severe stress; (5) patients in established recovery for whom individual or group psychotherapy is a relapse risk; and (6) patients who specifically request it. With or without disulfiram, a treatment program needs to be highly structured and predictable in order to be useful to newly recovering patients. Recovery is a process with discernible phases of development, and the provision of structure is the core of early treatment, where behavior change is more important than insight. A well-structured program will have phases through which a patient may progress. Generally speaking, disulfiram is most useful early to establish sobriety and to allow time for other support structures, such as AA, therapist-patient relationships, and new personal relationships, to take hold. Disulfiram is best given to patients with prior treatment failures, early in treatment, briefly during crises in established sobriety, or to support unusual stresses, such as psychotherapy. Prescriptions should be short-term and not allow automatic refills. It should be necessary to attend a treatment program in order to obtain them. Supervision and monitoring dramatically increase compliance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
P Banys
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of psychoactive drugs     Volume:  20     ISSN:  0279-1072     ISO Abbreviation:  J Psychoactive Drugs     Publication Date:    1988 Jul-Sep
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1989-05-03     Completed Date:  1989-05-03     Revised Date:  2005-11-16    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8113536     Medline TA:  J Psychoactive Drugs     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  243-61     Citation Subset:  IM    
University of California, San Francisco.
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MeSH Terms
Alcoholism / drug therapy*
Disulfiram / pharmacology,  therapeutic use*
Reg. No./Substance:

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