How Bad Is Antabuse? - Page 2

By Jeff Forester 11/10/11

When you don't trust yourself to stay away from a drink, you can take a pill to make drinking unbearable. Antabuse may be effective, but is it worth the cost?

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Antabuse Side Effects
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Tallman notes wryly that some alcoholics are able to rig this game. “I have had patients ‘forget’ to take their Antabuse for a few weeks and end up drinking,” he reports. “And some patients can power through despite the bad affects. They keep drinking and seem to develop different pathways to metabolize alcohol.” 

“Antabuse is like a chemical first step,” says Paulsen. “But it becomes an addict’s Higher Power. They are turning their lives over to a drug.” Perhaps that is the point. For those that cannot find a Higher Power, Antabuse serves to fill the gap. Interestingly, Hank agrees with that assessment. “I don’t believe in God,” he says. “For me, God is the group. I don’t believe in this happy horseshit.”

Hank is coming up on nine months since his relapse and still hits meetings nearly every day because, he says, “I know that connecting with others who are screwed up like me helps keep me sober.” He has gone on a three-day silent spiritual retreat. He admits that he believes in “an energy—an existence that I cannot perceive that is everywhere.” But this is not the Higher Power many have found in AA. “It doesn’t care if I drink,” Hank says. “There are over seven billion people on the planet. Do you think God cares?”  He admits he is sober because he wakes up every morning and takes a pill.  For the time being, that is enough for him.

Jeff Forester is a screenwriter and author in Minnesota. His book, Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods, an ecological history of his state's famed Boundary Waters, came out in paperback in 2009. He has also written about sober high schools and painkillers, among many other topics, for The Fix.

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Jeff Forester is a writer in Minnesota. His book, Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods, an ecological history of his state's famed Boundary Waters, came out in paperback in 2009. Jeff is the Executive Director of MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates MLR and you can follow him on Twitter.