June 1973

Disulfiram Maintenance in Outpatient Treatment of Alcoholism

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Mass (Mr. Gerrein), and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs. Rosenberg and Manohar).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(6):798-802. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750360034004

Alcoholic outpatients during their first visit were questioned about the use of disulfiram (Antabuse) to control their drinking. Those who accepted disulfiram (49 of 121 patients) were randomly assigned to one of four treatment methods: (1) given disulfiram once a week; (2) given disulfiram twice weekly under supervision (disulfiram maintenance); (3) not given disulfiram, attending once a week; and (4) not given disulfiram, attending twice weekly. Patients who refused disulfiram were also told to come either (5) once or (6) twice weekly. In addition, all patients were offered standard clinic management which consisted of counseling, psychotherapy, and medication.

During the eight-week follow-up period, disulfiram maintenance was shown to be significantly superior in keeping patients in treatment and encouraging their sobriety. The remaining five groups behaved essentially the same in terms of clinic attendance.