Assessing disulfiram compliance: validational study of an abbreviated breath test procedure

Robert G. Rychtarik, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Patrick O. Smith, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Stanton L. Jones, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Leonard A. Doerfler, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Ray Hale, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Donald M. Prue, University of Mississippi Medical Center

At the time of publication, Leonard Doerfler was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


An abbreviated breath test for detecting the disulfiram metabolite carbon disulfide (CS2) was evaluated in an analogue investigation of the sensitivity of the test in identifying disulfiram and non-disulfiram intake in a group of 14 alcoholic inpatients.

Disulfiram (250 mg) was administered within an ABAB repeated measures design over a 12-day period with corresponding breath tests administered during morning and afternoon time periods. Dependent measures included spectrophotometric analysis of reacted test samples and visual ratings of sample color.

Results indicated that the test was highly sensitive in discriminating disulfiram administration for the group as a whole, as well as for individual subjects. Moreover, visual ratings were more accurate than spectrophotometric cut-off scores in identifying disulfiram administration.

The test shows considerable promise as a rapid means of assessing disulfiram compliance.