Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 22, 2021.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acamprosate for use in 2005, making it one of three drugs available for alcohol use disorder treatment. Even though it has been an approved medication for over a decade, most people have never heard of acamprosate or the benefits it can provide to someone recovering from an alcohol use disorder.
Acamprosate is a drug used for people struggling with alcohol dependence. It is also commonly referred to as its brand name, Campral, or acamprosate calcium. A client will only get a prescription after they have gone through detox. It must be used under the guidance of a physician. Because it is an oral medication taken thrice daily, many people take it with their meals, but this is not required.
Many medications for alcohol dependence either reduce alcohol's impacts or create uncomfortable side effects from drinking. Acamprosate, though, targets the brain's reward system, which can be damaged by excessive drinking. The drug does not allow someone to experience the "high" they associate with alcohol use.
Acamprosate is also the only drug safe for people with liver issues, including Chron's disease and alcohol-related liver diseases, as it breaks down in the digestive tract instead of the liver. However, it may not be safe for people with kidney-related conditions. Another benefit to this type of medication is that it has very few interactions with other drugs, meaning you can take it in tandem with most medications.
Acamprosate reaches its full effect in a week, but it might take longer for you to notice results. It is a short-term medication, usually prescribed for a year or less, but studies are exploring the drug's long-term benefits.
Although acamprosate is a mild medication, it can still cause side effects like most drugs, including:
In rare cases, the side effects can be more serious, like suicidal thoughts and an irregular heartbeat. All side effects tend to subside as treatment continues and your body acclimates to the medication.
If you're ready to combat your alcohol use disorder, going to a detox center that offers options like acamprosate can make a huge difference in your recovery. At Diamond House Detox in Sacramento, we provide 24-hour admission and have trained medical professionals on staff to assist in your recovery goals. Contact us today to get started.