What is Acamprosate?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/20/2021

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Acamprosate is a medication that is commonly used throughout Europe in the treatment of alcoholism. Unlike the more commonly used U.S. drug, Antabuse, Acamprosate does not have the power to implement symptoms of withdrawal if taken while under the influence of alcohol, but it will help to reduce the severity of cravings that an individual has while trying to overcome alcohol addiction.

According to the National Library of Medicine, when Acamprosate, “is used along with counseling and social support to help people who have stopped drinking large amounts of alcohol to avoid drinking again,” relapse risks are reduced.

Does Acamprosate Heal Alcoholism?

Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for addiction. At best, counseling, therapy and medications can be used to help patients learn how to cope and to reduce their risk of relapse, but alcoholism is a disease of chronic relapse. Acamprosate does not heal or cure alcoholism, but it can make saying “NO” to alcohol a little bit easier for the patient.

This medication helps to balance out the neurotransmitters of the brain that are otherwise imbalanced as a result of heavy drinking. As a result, people who take the medication are more equipped to make healthy choices regarding alcohol and to avoid drinking.

Does it Prevent Withdrawal?

Acamprosate does not prevent, nor will it stop withdrawal symptoms from occurring. Unfortunately, even if you are taking this medication to help you quit drinking, the following symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may still arise:

  • Tremors
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia

Talk with a treatment provider if you experience any of these symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. Left untreated, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and may quickly lead to relapse. Fortunately, many medications and support offerings are available in a residential treatment setting to help curb these symptoms and keep you on the safe path to recovery.

Should I Take Acamprosate?

Only your treatment provider can help you to make an informed decision as to whether acamprosate is the right medication for your needs. For help finding a treatment center that will assist you, call (800) 662-HELP (4357) to speak with a treatment coordinator.

Acamprosate is only available by prescription. As such, you must seek medical help (either at a doctor or residential treatment facility) if you would like to consider this medication to help you quit. Studies have found that when Acamprosate is taken in conjunction with other treatment methods there is a reduced risk of relapse, but this does not mean that taking the medication makes you immune to such risks.

If you relapse while using this medication, talk with a treatment specialist about additional counseling and support offerings such as AA which may be available in your area to help you stay motived and on track in your recovery. Keep in mind that relapse is common, and many addicts will face this difficult journey many times before they finally find ease in the healing and stability of recovery—don’t give up hope.

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