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What is Acamprosate? Uses, Side Effects & Mechanism of Action

What is acamprosate? Acamprosate, sold under the brand name Campral, is a medication that helps people get out of alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a severe issue in the U.S. In 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 14.5 million people aged 12 and older had AUD. Tragically, excessive alcohol use leads to 261 deaths every day in the U.S., and 1,821 people die every year only in Colorado alone.

Evidence shows that acamprosate can help people who have AUD and have stopped drinking while maintaining their sobriety. However, it comes with various side effects, which are essential to notice as soon as possible and immediate treatment.

Hearing success stories of individuals like Zaxx gives hope to fight life’s challenges. He possesses an addictive personality, was initially fascinated by meteorology, and found solace in music during school struggles, dedicating all his time to it. Starting as a DJ in middle school, he gained attention with a Martin Garrix remix, leading to opportunities in New York and eventually signing with Tiesto’s team. Despite success, he faced severe anxiety, exacerbated by the music scene’s substance use culture, leading to a mental breakdown and a six-month break. Returning with better mental health strategies and support from his girlfriend, he now advocates for safety in the dance music culture and maintains a sustainable career approach.

This guide will go into the specifics of what is acamprosate, its side effects, mechanisms and risk factors attached to acamprosate.

What is Acamprosate?

Acamprosate, also known by the brand name Campral, is a medication designed to help people stay sober after they’ve quit drinking. It’s a unique drug because it’s specifically formulated for maintaining alcohol abstinence, unlike naltrexone and disulfiram, which are used for different aspects of alcohol dependence treatment. Acamprosate works as a structural analog of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps stabilize brain function after alcohol withdrawal.

Approved by the FDA in 2004 and initially marketed by Forest Laboratories, Acamprosate is considered safe and well-tolerated. Its primary goal is to support people in their journey to stay sober, addressing one of the toughest challenges in recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Given the global issue of alcoholism, Acamprosate plays a crucial role in promoting long-term abstinence from alcohol.

Acamprosate Dosage

Acamprosate comes in 333 mg tablets. To treat alcohol dependence, the usual dose is two tablets taken three times a day, which can be taken with or without food. It’s important to swallow the tablets whole without cutting or crushing them.

Since Acamprosate is processed by the kidneys, elderly patients or those with kidney issues might need a dose adjustment. However, you generally won’t need to change your dose if you have only mild kidney impairment. It’s always better to consult the doctor.

How Does Acamprosate Work?

Acamprosate helps reduce the brain’s dependence on alcohol by interacting with brain chemicals like glutamate and GABA. Unlike other alcohol-dependent medications, Acamprosate is broken down in the digestive tract, not the liver, making it safe for people with liver diseases caused by alcohol. It may also be safe for those with Crohn’s disease and alcohol abuse.

Long-term alcohol abuse changes the brain’s chemistry and function. The brain and body become tolerant to alcohol, leading to psychological and physical dependence. These changes can worsen without treatment and cause other health problems. When someone stops drinking after heavy alcohol use, their brain struggles to function correctly. This can lead to cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable, painful, and even life-threatening without medical help.

Acamprosate Side Effects

Understanding the side effects of Acamprosate is as crucial as understanding what is Acamprosate. This medication has a good safety profile. The most common side effect is mild, short-term diarrhea. Other less common side effects may include:

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Changes in hearing
  • Dizzy spells and fainting
  • Difficulties urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Severe itchiness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)

Acamprosate medication isn’t safe for pregnant women or for people with kidney problems. It’s crucial to take it exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Acamprosate alcohol treatment isn’t suitable for everyone.

Acamprosate Interactions

Acamprosate doesn’t often interact with other drugs because the liver does not process it. Common medications used for alcohol use disorder, like diazepam, disulfiram, and antidepressants, don’t have interactions with acamprosate.

However, there is one interaction to be aware of between acamprosate and naltrexone, another medication used for alcohol use disorder. Acamprosate can increase naltrexone levels in the body.

How to Take Acamprosate: Tips and Guidelines

  • Prescription Duration: Acamprosate is typically prescribed for one year.
  • Dosage Frequency: Take Acamprosate three times a day.
  • Food Option: It can be taken with or without food, but taking it with meals might help with consistency.
  • Meal Timing: For easier adherence, consider taking it with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Duration Variation: Treatment length may vary based on alcohol addiction severity and physical health.
  • Complementary Treatments: Other medications like Naltrexone and Disulfiram may also be used alongside Acamprosate for alcoholism treatment.

Acamprosate Effciciacy

The effectiveness of Acamprosate in maintaining sobriety from alcohol is generally acknowledged despite some conflicting findings in studies. Various European and U.S. research studies have been conducted to assess its efficacy.

A review of 24 studies found that when paired with psychosocial therapy, Acamprosate reduced the risk of alcohol consumption relapse by 86% and increased the number of sober days by 11%.

Acamprosate Mechanism of Action

Acamprosate helps people stay sober, but exactly how it works isn’t fully known. It’s thought to attach to NMDA receptors in the brain. These receptors get more active with long-term alcohol use, leading to cravings and mood swings when you quit drinking. Acamprosate blocks these receptors, helping you avoid these effects.

Also, Acamprosate triggers the release of taurine in the brain, which calms down nerves. This reduces symptoms like cravings, anxiety, and trouble sleeping that can lead to drinking again.

FAQs: What is Acamprosate?

Que: How long do the side effects of acamprosate last?

Ans: Most side effects of this medication are minor and should go away within a few days or weeks. The most common ones are stomach upset (like diarrhea), feeling sick, and a decrease in sex drive.

Que: What does acamprosate do in the brain?

Ans: Acamprosate helps balance the brain’s excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, glutamate and GABA. This balance may reduce cravings, and change learned responses to alcohol cues in individuals with alcohol dependence.

Que: How does acamprosate interact with the kidneys?

Ans: Acamprosate is not metabolized by the body and is eliminated unchanged through the urine. As a result, kidney function can affect the concentration of acamprosate in the blood. Severe kidney impairment makes acamprosate unsuitable for use, and dose adjustment is recommended for mild impairment.

Que: Does acamprosate affect the liver?

Ans: No, acamprosate is generally safe for the liver. It is excreted through the kidneys and not metabolized by the liver.

Que: Is acamprosate effective?

Ans: Yes, acamprosate is effective in treating alcoholism, but it’s not a standalone solution. It’s typically prescribed after initial withdrawal and detox.

Conclusion

Overall, this blog has answered your question about what is Acamprosate. Side effects and mechanisms.  If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol problems, there are places that can help. These places have different types of treatment, such as detox rehab, where you stay in the hospital, and programs where you go during the day.

They have nice places to stay, good views, and things like swimming pools and basketball courts. Doctors and other experts will help you get better. If you’re ready to start getting better, contact one of your doctors immediately. They’ll help you get on the right track.

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