What Is Acamprosate?

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.

What Is Acamprosate Used For?

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.

Some research suggests acamprosate can reduce the risk of relapsing by up to 86%. Physicians use it with an addiction treatment program for the best results.

How Does Acamprosate Work?

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.

Are There Any Side Effects to Acamprosate?

Although acamprosate is a mild medication, it can still cause side effects like most drugs, including:

  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Weakness or dizziness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

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.

Start Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Today

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.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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