Death by Disulfiram (Antabuse)

When I was younger I loved watching the TV program “The Bill”.  Famed for it’s gritty realism of the time, the focus on the show was on a “real police events”, which meant some episodes were on domestic abuse, shoplifting and some focused on more exciting crimes such as daring armed robberies.

The show’s peak years were from 1988 – 1999, in the latter 10 years the show went into the more incredibly ludicrous scenarios –  one of which included Sun Hill (the fictional police station where it was located) being blown up!

One of the leading characters was a detective named  DC Alfred Line or better know as “Tosh”, played by the actor Kevin Lloyd. Kevin had already played a part in the TV series Blake’s Seven, but The Bill made Kevin Lloyd a household name from the 80’s to the 90’s.

The Bill was filmed on location at Notting Hill and was the setting for where Tosh and his posse of no-nonsense crime fighters would be on the beat surveying for wannabe thugs and crooks.

Unbeknown to the public around this time was the fact that Kevin Lloyd was an alcoholic, his life was plagued by personal problems involving his family and his own personal struggle with alcohol.

He wrote a book which was published only a year before his death that detailed some of his problems. In it he wrote that he “Liked the odd brandy or 12”, the only real public acknowledgment of his alcoholism before he was disgraced in the tabloid press.


After being fired from the TV series for turning up to work drunk he was outed in the tabloids for being a drunk, the media (whom are the biggest consumers of drugs and alcohol)  went to town on the story and Kevin Lloyd retreated to a UK based rehab to over-come his addiction.


Kevin Lloyd went into treatment for his alcoholism and at some point he was prescribed the Disulfiram.

Disulfiram is a drug intended to stop a person drinking alcohol,  it causes an allergic reaction to alcohol, this can be mild in some cases but also profound and deadly in other cases.  Sometimes alcoholics on the drug don’t fully understand how deadly this drug can be in combination with alcohol. The drug is a metabolized slowly with some people stating it takes over 10 days to leave the system.

“the perfect drug for an alcoholic”

One might think that clinically this sounds like the perfect drug for an alcoholic, however the psychological grip of alcohol can be so profound that despite knowing this on a conscious level that drinking on this drug is an absolute NO – they are unable to make this decision ‘(hence why alcoholics in treatment often refer to this decision making around substance use as “POWERLESS”)

He managed to get out of facility and head to a bar and began to drink. What followed during that period I am uncertain of, but the combination alcohol and disfulfiram killed the 49 year old actor.

I’m sure disfulfiram has it’s clinical uses,  I’m sure people have had some success in using it, as it’s been in clinical use for years. However, it may be seriously harmful for those who have traits of “powerlessness” in their decision making around acting out on their addiction.

I’ve seen many a time in my field of work those who are very conscious that their drinking will kill them, but they still drink.

Kevin Lloyd died on 2nd of May 1998 –  17 years ago this month.







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