Acamprosate – also referred to as Campral or acamprosate calcium – is one of the three medications the Food and Drug Administration has approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence.
It’s often prescribed to patients who have completely stopped drinking alcohol and have undergone alcohol detox. Acamprosate has several benefits, including absorption through the digestive tract, fewer and less severe side effects, little to no known drug reactions, and noticeable reduction of alcohol cravings. This medication has also been shown to reduce the risk of returning to drinking after treatment by 86%. While Acamprosate can be helpful, it is not meant to treat alcohol use disorder but should be used alongside formal addiction treatment programs.
If you’ve never heard of this medication, then you aren’t the only one. Fortunately, Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia is sharing everything you need to know about Acamprosate for alcohol dependence.
How Does Acamprosate Work?
Acamprosate reduces the brain’s dependence on alcohol by reacting with neurotransmitter systems in the brain like glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Unlike other medications for alcohol dependence, Acamprosate is broken down in the digestive tract rather than the liver, making it safe for patients suffering from alcohol-related liver diseases. It may also be safe enough for individuals who suffer from Crohn's disease and alcohol abuse as well. Long-term alcohol abuse can also change the brain’s chemistry and how it functions over time. The brain and body eventually become tolerant to alcohol as the person’s addiction worsens, resulting in psychological and physical dependence. These changes can become more severe if the person doesn’t receive formal treatment and can lead to other health problems. When a person attempts to stop drinking after a long period of alcohol abuse, their brain may have trouble functioning. This can cause cravings and alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable, painful, and even life-threatening without medical attention.
At Banyan Philadelphia, we offer alcohol treatment that includes medical detox and a variety of other therapies that are meant to work in tandem to address the physical and mental effects of alcohol abuse.
What Are the Side Effects of Acamprosate?
Most Acamprosate side effects are mild and subside as treatment progresses. Its mild side effects make it a safe and comfortable form of treatment for alcoholism, especially for individuals who suffer from liver problems. However, mild as they may be, most if not all medications cause side effects.
Some common Acamprosate side effects include:
- Increased heartbeat
- Changes in hearing
- Dizzy spells and fainting
- Difficulties urinating
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulties sleeping
- Severe itchiness
- Difficulties concentrating
- Vision problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure
Acamprosate medication should not be taken by women who are pregnant or by people who suffer from kidney problems. It should also only be taken if and as prescribed by a physician. Acamprosate alcohol treatment is not for everyone.
How to Take Acamprosate
Acamprosate is usually only prescribed to patients for one year and is normally taken three times a day. Unlike many other medications, patients have the option of taking Acamprosate with or without food. However, it may be easier to remember to take it if it’s taken at every meal of the day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Depending on the severity of the user’s alcohol addiction and the state of their physical health, they may take Acamprosate for a shorter or longer period. In addition to using Acamprosate for alcoholism, other medications like Naltrexone and Disulfiram may also be used to treat this condition.
At our drug and alcohol rehab center in Philadelphia, we incorporate unique programs and therapies in our rehab programs to ensure that the needs of every patient are met.
What Happens If You Drink Alcohol While Taking Acamprosate?
While Acamprosate won’t cause any severe reactions if a person takes it while drinking alcohol, you should not drink while taking this medication. Acamprosate is specifically meant for people who no longer drink alcohol and have also undergone an alcohol detox treatment. While drinking alcohol while taking Acamprosate isn’t necessarily life-threatening, alcohol can prevent the medication from working and the person’s substance abuse disorder may persist once again.
How Long Does Acamprosate Stay In Your System?
Acamprosate can stay in your system for anywhere between 20 and 30 hours and usually takes around five days to kick in. After five days, it reaches a steady level and begins to take effect between three and eight hours after each dose. There isn’t a drug test that could pick up traces of Acamprosate in a person’s system. That’s because this medication doesn’t produce euphoric effects or develop tolerance and addiction like other substances. Acamprosate will continue to remain in a person’s body as they continue to take it. Because it’s usually taken several times a day and can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 hours, traces of it will always be detected in the system of a person who takes it consistently.
Our guide on everything you need to know about Acamprosate supports the success of formal addiction treatment. Alcohol use disorder is a global problem, with nearly 2.5 million deaths attributed to this disease per year worldwide. Don’t be a part of this statistic.