Technological Shortcuts to Social Change

By Amitai Etzioni; Richard Remp | Go to book overview

2
ANTABUSE

DISCOVERY

The possibility of using antabuse 1 (disulfiram) in the treatment of alcoholism was first detected by Drs. Erik Jacobsen and Jens Hald in Denmark in 1945.2 As in many such discoveries, accident played a large part. Jacobsen was testing the drug for use in the control of parasitic intestinal worms. In keeping with his policy of never giving a drug to a patient without first testing it on himself, he took a small dose. Some hours later, at a dinner party, he became physically ill with just a few sips of beer.3

The first reports on the drug and its possible applications in combating alcoholism appeared in 1948 after Jacobsen and Hald had tested the drug's physiological effects and Dr. Oluf Martensen-Larsen had begun clinical work with it.4 (The beginning of Martensen-Larsen's association with the research is set as 1947.5)


EFFECT

The basis for the claim that the drug can be of use as a pharmacological and psychological aid in the treatment of alcoholism is the "alcoholantabuse reaction," which causes a person consuming alcohol considerable discomfort. (It is hence a so-called antagonistic drug.)

____________________
1
Or antabus, a trade name for tetraethylthiuramdisulphide, or disulfiram.
2
G. L. Usdin, "Antabuse in the Therapy of Chronic Alcoholism," Cincinnati Journal of Medicine, Vol. 32 ( 1951), pp. 288-291.
3
Ibid., p. 288.
4
Erling Asmussen, Jens Hald, and Erik Jacobsen, "Studies of the Effect of Tetraethylthiuramdisulphide (Antabuse) and Alcohol on Respiration and Circulation in Normal Human Subjects," Acta Pharmacologica et Toxicologica, Vol. 4 ( 1948), pp. 297-304. And in the same journal, the same issue: Jens Hald, Erik Jacobsen, and Valdemar Larsen, "The Sensitizing Effect of Tetraethylthiuramdisulphide (Antabuse) to Ethylalcohol," pp. 285-296.
5
Letter from Denmark, "The Antabus Treatment of Alcoholism," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 139 ( 1949), p. 732.

-53-

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