Acamprosate – An Alternative To Drug Treatment

April 1, 2024
Solace Asia

What is Acamprosate?

Acamprosate is a medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence. It's typically prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and support to help individuals abstain from alcohol. 

Acamprosate works by restoring the balance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are thought to be disrupted by chronic alcohol abuse. It helps reduce cravings for alcohol and may also help alleviate some of the negative symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Acamprosate is often used in conjunction with other medications such as naltrexone or disulfiram, as well as behavioral therapies, to increase the chances of successful recovery from alcohol dependence.

What Is Acamprosate Used For?

Acamprosate is prescribed to aid individuals with alcohol dependence who are already abstinent from alcohol at the start of treatment, assisting in maintaining their abstinence. It is recommended to be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan that includes psychological and social support.

It's important to note that Acamprosate is not intended to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

What Are The Side Effects Of Acamprosate?

Acamprosate can induce adverse effects. It is typically prescribed to individuals experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, where the negative effects of not using the medication outweigh its risks. Some notable side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Decreased sexual desire or changes in sexual function
  • Rare allergic reactions, characterized by rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing
  • Mental or mood changes
  • Severe depression, which may include suicidal thoughts
  • Kidney problems, indicated by changes in urine output
  • Fainting
  • Palpitations (rapid or pounding heartbeat)
  • Changes in vision or hearing
  • Increased thirst

What Are The Precautions to Consider When Using Acamprosate?

As this medicine contains numerous and unpredictable side effects, it is best to follow the guidelines/precautions listed below:

  • Sulfite Allergy: Inform your doctor if you have a sulfite allergy or a history of substance abuse. Verify the medication's ingredients to ensure compatibility with any known allergies or addictive tendencies.
  • Medical History: Disclose any history of depression, including suicidal thoughts or self-harm, to your physician, as Acamprosate may exacerbate these tendencies.
  • Pregnancy: Notify your doctor if you are pregnant, planning pregnancy, or breastfeeding. Promptly inform your doctor if pregnancy occurs during treatment.
  • Surgical Procedures: Inform your healthcare provider about Acamprosate use before any surgery, including dental procedures.
  • Operating Machinery or Driving: Avoid operating machinery or driving while taking Acamprosate, as it may impair decision-making abilities.
  • Support System: Involve loved ones in your treatment process to enhance accountability, responsibility, and adherence.

Some More Important Information about Acamprosate

  • Before initiating acamprosate treatment, it's essential to have ceased alcohol consumption.
  • In the event of a relapse and resumption of alcohol intake, continue taking acamprosate and promptly consult your healthcare provider. Treatment with acamprosate should be maintained if a relapse occurs.
  • Avoid discontinuing acamprosate even if you start feeling better. Discuss with your healthcare provider the appropriate duration for acamprosate therapy.
  • Skipping doses of acamprosate may heighten the risk of relapse.
  • Individuals with kidney issues may require lower doses of acamprosate and regular blood tests while using it. Severe kidney problems may contraindicate the use of acamprosate.
  • Those with substance use disorders face an elevated risk of depression and suicidal ideation. If you experience any self-harming thoughts, seek immediate help by calling 911 or visiting the nearest emergency room.
  • Acamprosate should be complemented with counseling and other forms of support.

Is Acamprosate Helpful?

Results from an online survey indicated that 54% of Acamprosate users found the medication highly effective, attributing it to significant assistance in managing alcohol cravings during early sobriety. Some users cautioned about cravings returning upon discontinuation, emphasizing the importance of consulting with a clinician before stopping the medication. However, many respondents reported reaching a year of sobriety with the help of Acamprosate, eventually discontinuing its use as they progressed in their recovery journey. While Acamprosate can facilitate the initiation of sobriety, it's crucial to eventually transition away from medication to prevent dependency and fully embrace a sober lifestyle. In essence, prioritize living life to the fullest without reliance on medication.

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