AIMS: Disulfiram is widely used to prevent alcoholic relapse. However, due to the intended adverse reaction with ethanol, some believe that its use is dangerous for patients with personality disorders or psychiatric comorbidities because of their increased risk of impulsivity or suicidal behaviour. We examined the safety and efficacy in relapse prevention of a series of alcoholics with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
METHODS: Case history study of patients diagnosed with BPD, prescribed disulfiram in a dose of 1.5-2.5 g/week, supervised by a physician in up to three brief contacts per week.
RESULTS: Two out of eight patients remained completely abstinent during the supervised disulfiram therapy over a mean period of 9.25 months. Adherence to treatment was 18.44 +/- 21.78 months. The first relapse occurred after 1.38 +/- 1.41 months. The cumulated time of abstinence was 16.88 +/- 20.48 months. The overall tolerability was considered to be high; dizziness and fatigue appeared in all patients at the beginning of the therapy but did not persist. No serious adverse events or ethanol-disulfiram interactions were observed. No suicidal behaviour was reported.
CONCLUSIONS: Although case observations should be interpreted with caution, supervised disulfiram seems to deserve further investigation in patients with comorbid BPD, for whom it appears to help prevent alcoholic relapse.