Acamprosate for alcohol abuse and dependence
How It Works
Experts are still studying how this medicine works. It appears to
reduce cravings for alcohol by helping balance brain chemicals called
neurotransmitters. It also might reduce
anxiety, mood swings, and sleep problems caused by
Why It Is Used
Acamprosate was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to treat
alcohol dependence in people who have quit drinking.
This medicine is used to reduce cravings for alcohol, and it might help with
anxiety and other problems caused by withdrawal. It can be used along with some
How Well It Works
Studies show that acamprosate reduces your chance for
relapse after you have quit drinking.3
During trials, side effects didn't bother most people who took
acamprosate. Diarrhea was the most common side effect. Some people had belly
pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, rash, itching, flatulence, or
dizziness. A very small number of people who took the medicine had an increase
in suicidal thoughts or had serious kidney problems.3
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
People with kidney problems might not be able to take this medicine
or might need lower doses.
In one study, a combination of acamprosate and a medicine called
naltrexone (ReVia) worked better than either drug by itself.2
In addition to medicines,
counseling can also help you stop drinking. You might
also want to attend a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Schuckit MA (2009). Alcohol-related disorders section
of Substance-related disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 10th
ed., vol. 1, pp. 1268-1288. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and
Kiefer F, et al. (2003). Comparing and combining
naltrexone and acamprosate in relapse prevention of alcoholism: A double-blind,
placebo-controlled study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60(1): 92-99.
Acamprosate (Campral) for alcoholism (2005).
Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 47(1199): 1-3.