If you have a family member who has been given a prescription for disulfiram, you know that person has to avoid alcoholic drinks, and you likely know he or she needs to avoid foods containing alcohol as well, like wine sauces. However, the list of products to avoid is actually much larger. As a family member who isn't taking the medication, it's very easy for you to gloss over what the other person can or can't use. It can be tempting to use the excuse that a little won't hurt the person. But the effects of disulfiram -- nausea and vomiting after ingesting even a small amount of alcohol -- are nothing to ignore. Here are some other products you should refrain from giving the person using disulfiram.
Cooking Doesn't Get Rid of Alcohol
Uncooked foods containing alcohol aren't the only foods to avoid. Cooking does not make alcohol burn off immediately. You can make alcohol burn off, but only after cooking the food for a very long time. What's Cooking America notes you have to cook something for three hours to get rid of all the alcohol in the product. If you're preparing foods that have alcohol and that aren't being cooked for that long, avoid giving these foods to the person using disulfiram.
Medicinal Alcohol-Containing Products Are Risky
Even cough medicines, mouthwashes, and gargles aren't safe unless they're alcohol-free. While a dose of cough medicine seems tiny, it can contain enough alcohol to set off a disulfiram reaction. Mouthwashes and gargles aren't supposed to be swallowed, but there is a risk that the person could hiccup or do something to make a bit of the liquid go down his or her throat.
Your Skin Isn't Safe
Another risk with those gargles and mouthwashes, along with aftershaves and other cosmetic products that contain alcohol, is that someone on disulfiram can have a skin reaction to the alcohol in the product. Even rubbing alcohol, the stuff on those little pads that a nurse uses to clean skin before giving a shot, can cause a problem. Mayo Clinic says the person who wants to use the product should test it on a very tiny part of his or her skin and wait for a couple of hours, and if there's no reaction, he or she might be able to use the product.
Construction Supplies Pose a Danger
The person on disulfiram isn't safe even at work if he or she -- or you -- use products like paint thinner. These can contain ethanol, and the products shouldn't get on the person's skin. The person shouldn't inhale the fumes, either. If you work with paint thinner or other alcohol-containing materials, keep away from the person on disulfiram until you've changed and washed up, and do not bring those products in the home.
Not Caffeine Too!
Disulfiram interacts with caffeine. The good news is that the person on the medication doesn't have to stop eating chocolate or drinking coffee, tea, or soda. The bad news is that the person can't have that much, and unfortunately, the line between OK and too much is vague. WebMD merely says to avoid "large amounts."
If you like to keep chocolate and caffeine-containing drinks around, start stocking decaffeinated versions of the drinks, and limit the amount of chocolate you have around. It's a worthy sacrifice to make for your family member's health.
If you have more questions about how to help a family member who takes disulfiram, contact the person's doctor or the drug rehab center at which the person has received treatment. It does get better, and being good about avoiding products now will help in the long run. Visit http://www.olalla.org for more information.