The Antabuse Post

     Sometimes people find their way to my blog via Google searches for alcoholism or drunkalogues.  I write this one for them.

      I’ve been on Antabuse for ten days.  I needed a prescription to get it, and I don’t have a doctor in this town anymore, so I called a rehab center in the telephone book and asked them if they could recommend a physician who was open to possibly giving me a prescription.

      They gave me a few names, and I scheduled an appointment with the one who could see me the next day.  I rode my bike to her office on my lunch break.  She had a waiting room with toys for children and dried, pinned butterfly exhibits all over the walls.  

       I lucked out: the doctor was careful and serious-minded and didn’t try to rush me out the door in three minutes.  She asked questions about my symptoms and my drinking history and she took lots of notes.  I had a physical.  She took some blood and mailed it to the lab.  

        An hour and a half later, I walked out with the Rx.  I had to pay cash for the consultation.  Obamacare took care of the meds. 

        I took 500 mg the first 7 days, and then cut down to 250 mg.  It gives me a minor headache, but I knock that out with an aspirin.  It also leaves a weird metallic taste in my mouth.  Otherwise, I detect no side effects.  I take it in the morning, when I’m fresh and in my right mind and have tons of energy and willpower, before life serves me my daily ration of shit sandwich and/or soul-crushing boredom.  Then it’s done, taken care of.  No matter how nerve-wracking or demoralizing the day, I can’t forget to take the medication…and I can’t drink.  The house could burn down and I could be diagnosed with leukemia, and I wouldn’t be able to drink.  

        Personally, I wish I’d thought of this years ago.  Actually, I did–I asked for this medication from the health clinic at my last university.  The nurse practitioner told me that it was “discredited” and gave me a shitload of benzos and antidepressants instead.  We all know how that worked out.  

       I like the Antabuse so far because it removes the choice to drink.  It’s classic aversion therapy: if I drink on it, I’ll turn purple and throw up for hours and feel like I’m going to die.  The consequences are immediate and violent. I trust that this will happen, and I do not want to experience it.  Internet forums are full of anecdotes from Antabuse-users who wanted to “test” it.  I myself am not remotely curious about what that would feel like. 

       It is not a solution, but it’s a perfectly good tool for the alcoholic or problem drinker who earnestly wants to use it for its intended purpose.  I don’t think that it will be useful to people who don’t want to take it voluntarily–people who only take it because it’s court-ordered, or because their loved ones insist upon it.  They just find ways not to actually eat the pill.  One guy I talked to replaced all this Antabuse with white calcium tablets so that his wife would still think he was taking them.  Some people continue to drink on it because they are defiant.  

        It’s not a cure for the affliction…but it helps in the daily struggle.  People in AA make a distinction between being sober and being dry.  Being dry is a painful way to live, but it beats being dead and it sure as hell beats being drunk all the time.  

One thought on “The Antabuse Post”

  1. Hi, I may be commented once or twice before but not a regular poster:

    1. The prof I took psychopharmacology from in the last couple of years was pretty positive about Antabuse and never said anything about it being “discredited”.

    2. Have you heard of Smart Recovery programs? From what I read, you seem to rely on AA due to scarcity of support mechanisms available. So I figured you may have already heard of them and decided it’s not for you but it likely would not harm if I mentioned another tool. They are based in CBT/REBT theory and personal agency, and as far as I know, are more evidence-based than AA programs. As well, you can buy a manual and use it, if no groups are available in your area. You can just google the term and see for yourself.


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