A doctor prescribing medication-assisted treatment for addiction

What is Acamprosate?

Acamprosate, commonly known by its brand name Campral, is a medication used to reduce cravings for alcohol and reduce risk for relapse. It functions by stabilizing the chemical balance in the brain disrupted by long-term alcohol consumption.

As per data from the National Library of Medicineyou can reduce the chances of returning to any drink by 86% by receiving Acamprosate. It’s an extremely effective medication and has helped many people recover and remain stable in their sobriety.

Benefits of Acamprosate in Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Facts about Acamprosate for alcohol addiction

Acamprosate is a medicine that usually comes in tablet form and is taken orally. It works by changing the activity of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, like GABA and glutamate. Because it affects the same brain chemicals as alcohol, it is best used after a person has stopped drinking completely. It’s meant for people who want to stay away from alcohol entirely, not just cut back.

Acamprosate offers several benefits in alcohol addiction recovery. It helps balance brain chemicals, reducing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, and trouble sleeping. It also helps lessen cravings for alcohol, which can cause people to start drinking again. When used as part of a full treatment plan, Acamprosate can greatly improve the chances of staying sober and beating alcohol addiction.

Who Can Take Acamprosate?

Acamprosate is a good option with alcohol use disorder, especially for those that want to stay sober. This medicine doesn’t help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, so people who drink every day usually need to go through detox first, either in a hospital or outpatient setting, using a different medicine to manage withdrawal. After they have stopped drinking for a few days, they can start taking Acamprosate.

Since Acamprosate isn’t processed by the liver, it’s a safe choice for people with liver problems caused by drinking. However, people with kidney problems and pregnant women need to be careful because the medicine can affect kidney function and there aren’t enough studies to know if it’s safe during pregnancy. It’s also important for people taking other medicines to talk to their doctor to make sure there won’t be any negative interactions.

Despite these precautions, Acamprosate is still a valuable choice for many people looking for alcohol addiction recovery.

Acamprosate vs. Naltrexone

Quick facts about Naltrexone or Vivitrol for addiction treatment

Both Acamprosate and Naltrexone are commonly used to treat alcoholism, but they work in different ways and have different effects.

Acamprosate helps by balancing the brain chemicals disrupted by heavy drinking. It reduces the uncomfortable symptoms of long-term alcohol withdrawal and helps restore normal brain function, which lowers the urge to drink.

Naltrexone, on the other hand, works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain. Alcohol usually makes people feel good by acting on these receptors, but Naltrexone stops this, making alcohol less enjoyable and less tempting.

Naltrexone is processed by the liver, so people with liver problems might prefer Acamprosate since it doesn’t affect the liver. Conversely, people with kidney problems might choose Naltrexone because it doesn’t affect the kidneys. Another difference is that Naltrexone is taken as one pill a day, while Acamprosate requires taking two pills three times a day, which can be harder to remember. Also, Acamprosate can’t be taken while still drinking, but Naltrexone can, so people who want to cut back on drinking rather than quit entirely might prefer Naltrexone.

Both medications aim to help people recover from alcoholism and prevent relapse. Choosing between them depends on individual factors like medical history, treatment goals, personal preference, and how one responds to previous treatments. It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional to decide the best treatment plan for you.

Acamprosate vs. Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Quick facts about Disulfiram for alcoholism

Both Acamprosate and Disulfiram (Antabuse) are used to treat alcohol addiction, but they work in different ways and have different effects.

As mentioned before, Acamprosate helps by changing brain chemicals to reduce cravings and the desire to drink alcohol. Disulfiram, on the other hand, works by blocking the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. This causes a buildup of a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. If someone drinks alcohol while taking Disulfiram, they will feel very sick, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fast heartbeat, sweating, and facial flushing. This negative reaction makes people want to avoid drinking.

Disulfiram is not usually the first choice for treatment due to the strong reaction it causes. However, some people find that this accountability helps them stay sober, so it’s still used to prevent relapses. The choice between Acamprosate and Disulfiram depends on personal preferences, treatment goals, and medical history. It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to decide the best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions you may have about Acamprosate treatment.

Common side effects of Acamprosate may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, and headaches. However, not everyone experiences these side effects, and they often subside as the body adjusts to the medication.

Acamprosate typically starts working within a few days to a week of starting treatment. However, its full effectiveness may take several weeks to manifest.

It is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Acamprosate. Combining alcohol with Acamprosate may reduce the effectiveness of the medication and increase the risk for side effects.

No, Acamprosate is not available over-the-counter. It is a prescription medication that must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and obtained from a pharmacy.

It is not advisable to stop taking Acamprosate abruptly without consulting a healthcare professional. Suddenly discontinuing the medication may lead to withdrawal symptoms and increase the risk for relapse, so it’s best to taper off with the help of a healthcare provider.

Get the Support You Need for Successful Addiction Recovery

Acamprosate has been proven to be a great option if you want to quit drinking. However, it’s crucial to remember that medication alone is not a complete solution. Eleanor Health offers comprehensive addiction treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment, addiction counseling, and peer support tailored to meet your individual needs.

Take the first step towards recovery today by reaching out to Eleanor Health and accessing the support you need to achieve lasting sobriety.

A community member receives a prescription for Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT)

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