Acamprosate is used to treat addictive personalities, namely helping to reduce one's alcohol dependency.

Generic Campral




Merck, Sun Pharma


333 mg



I. Introduction to Acamprosate

A. A Brief History of the Drug

Hailing from labs in France in the mid-1980s, Acamprosate has woven an interesting story in the world of pharmacology. Its creation was driven by an effort to tackle alcohol addiction. It first made its way into the market back in 1989 and received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) much later specifically in 2004. Nowadays it is commonly known by its brand name, Campral.

B. Common Uses and Indications

Typically Acamprosate is utilized as a tool in the battle against alcohol dependency. It forms a part of a comprehensive treatment approach that includes counseling and social support to help individuals who have quit drinking to sustain abstinence. It's important to note that this medication doesn't alleviate withdrawal symptoms; its primary function is to prevent a return to drinking by supporting long-term abstinence. Key aspects;

  • Addressing alcohol dependency
  • Encouraging abstinence from alcohol
  • Supplementing counseling and social support

C. Role in Modern Medicine

In the world of medicine, Acamprosate represents a ray of hope for many people struggling with alcohol addiction. This drug has impacted the treatment of alcohol abuse by affecting neurotransmitters and the central nervous system.

It is a breakthrough in addiction medicine as it provides a pharmacological solution to what is primarily seen as a psychological problem. This highlights the connection between physical and mental well-being, in terms of overall health.

II. How Acamprosate Works

A. The Mechanism of Action

Understanding how Acamprosate works involves exploring the aspects of neurobiology. Essentially Acamprosate is thought to restore the balance in the brain that gets disrupted due to alcohol abuse.

Research suggests that chronic alcohol consumption interferes with neurotransmission, which is a key system responsible for excitatory signals in the brain. Acamprosate is believed to interact with this system, promoting a state of balance and reducing the likelihood of relapse.

B. Understanding Its Impact on the Central Nervous System

When it comes to how it affects the nervous system, Acamprosate doesn't just passively watch. Instead, it actively helps restore brain activity that gets disrupted due to long-term alcohol use. It does this by regulating the transmission of glutamate and GABA both of which are greatly affected by alcohol consumption. As a result, it reduces the emotional discomfort that people often feel when they stop drinking, making them less inclined to go back to problematic drinking habits.

C. Acamprosate and Neurotransmitters

The therapeutic potential of Acamprosate relies on its interaction with neurotransmitters. It acts as an antagonist at a glutamate receptor called the N methyl D aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This action helps counter the excitability caused by increased levels of glutamate during alcohol withdrawal.

Acamprosate may also affect the activity of another neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), although the precise nature of this interaction is still not completely understood. Overall, Acamprosate helps restore balance in the brain through these mechanisms.

III. Approved Uses of Acamprosate

A. Alcohol Dependence Treatment

A key aspect of Acamprosate is its role in the treatment of alcohol dependence(1). It serves as a complement to psychosocial interventions for individuals fighting against alcoholism.

However, it's important to note that Acamprosate does not eliminate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal; its main purpose is to discourage a return to drinking habits.(2)

Therefore it is typically introduced after the individual has completed detoxification and withdrawal. It plays a part in a comprehensive treatment program for alcohol dependence by preventing relapse after detoxification and withdrawal.(3)

1. PubMed - Acamprosate for alcohol dependence 

2. National Library of Medicine - Acamprosate for treatment of alcohol dependence: mechanisms, efficacy, and clinical utility

3. Wikipedia - Acamprosate 

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Addiction

B. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Management

In addition to its use in treating alcohol dependence, Acamprosate shows promise in dealing with the challenging effects of acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

PAWS refers to a collection of lingering withdrawal symptoms that persist after the initial phase of withdrawal. This syndrome often presents itself through emotional disruptions, such as anxiety, trouble sleeping, and feelings of sadness.

By restoring neurotransmission, Acamprosate may help alleviate these symptoms and increase the chances of long-term recovery. It aims to improve withdrawal symptoms experienced in PAWS and enhance prospects for sustained recovery by addressing emotional and cognitive disturbances.

IV. Off-Label Uses of Acamprosate

A. Potential Uses in Mood Disorders

Expanding its boundaries, Acamprosate demonstrates promising effectiveness in the field of mood disorders. This includes conditions like disorder and major depressive disorder, where the balance of neurotransmission is disrupted, much like in alcohol dependence.

Emerging evidence indicates that Acamprosate may restore this equilibrium by regulating GABAergic neurotransmission and easing the related mood symptoms. It potentially plays a role in managing the disorder and could offer relief for symptoms connected to major depressive disorder.

B. Potential Role in Treating Other Substance Use Disorders

It's interesting to note that Acamprosate, a medication known for its effectiveness in treating alcohol dependence, may also have the potential to manage substance use disorders.

Preliminary studies suggest that it could help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids and nicotine, as these substances share neurochemical foundations with alcohol dependence.

While these potential uses are still being investigated, they offer possibilities for the therapeutic application of Acamprosate. It could potentially be used to treat opioid use disorder and play a role in managing nicotine dependence.

C. Acamprosate in Neuropathic Pain Management

Acamprosate, with its range of therapeutic possibilities, is currently being studied for its potential in managing neuropathic pain. This type of pain, known for being difficult to treat, occurs as a result of damage or disease affecting the nervous system.

The neural mechanisms involved in this pain condition, specifically the disrupted glutamate system, align with the mechanisms that Acamprosate aims to regulate.

As a result, Acamprosate offers a perspective on addressing this challenging condition by potentially alleviating pain symptoms through its modulation of the glutamate system.

V. Acamprosate Composition

A. Main Active Ingredient

Acamprosate's main component is calcium, a synthetic compound known for its ability to profoundly modulate neurochemical activity. This compound is responsible for the drug's effectiveness in restoring balance to the neurotransmission system that has been disrupted by long-term alcohol use.

B. Other Constituents and Their Roles

In addition to acamprosate calcium, the medication also contains additional ingredients known as excipients. These auxiliary components, such as microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium silicate, and sodium starch glycolate, have functions that support the overall properties of the drug.

For example, microcrystalline cellulose acts as a bulking agent to give the medication its desired texture. Magnesium silicate works as a caking agent to maintain stability. Sodium starch glycolate helps in tablet disintegration for absorption.

C. Forms of Availability: Tablets, Capsules, and Others

Acamprosate is commonly found as a tablet that slowly releases the ingredient over time. Typically each tablet contains 333mg of acamprosate calcium. Although this is the common form researchers are continuously exploring other possibilities such, as capsules or injectables.

VI. Dosage and Administration of Acamprosate

The suggested amount of Acamprosate for individuals who're dependent on alcohol and want to maintain abstinence is two tablets of 333mg taken three times a day.

However, the specific treatment plan may vary based on factors such as the patient's weight, kidney function, and overall health condition.

B. Method of Administration

Acamprosate is usually taken by mouth three times per day. It's important to swallow the tablets whole. You can take them with or without food. It's crucial to take the medication and start the therapy as soon, as possible after stopping alcohol consumption.

C. Dosage Adjustments in Specific Populations

Dosage adjustments may be required in populations. Specifically, individuals with renal impairment should take a lower dosage, typically one tablet of 333mg thrice daily.

However, it's important to mention that Acamprosate is not recommended for patients with renal impairment as it may increase the risk of higher systemic exposure.

VII. Interactions with Acamprosate

A. Drug-Drug Interactions

Acamprosate is known for having interactions with other drugs. It doesn't go through liver metabolism. Does it interfere with the way the liver processes other medications.

However, it's important to be cautious when prescribing Acamprosate with other medicines that are excreted through the kidneys or affect kidney function, like furosemide or nifedipine.

B. Drug-Food Interactions

There haven't been any known instances of food and drug interactions associated with Acamprosate. It can be taken with or without food, although some individuals might find it helpful to take it during meals as a way to remember when to dose or minimize any stomach-related side effects.

C. Drug-Alcohol Interactions

When someone takes Acamprosate and drinks alcohol at the time, they won't experience a disulfiram-like reaction. This reaction is an unpleasant response that can happen with certain medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. However, it's important to note that Acamprosate doesn't reduce the effects of alcohol if drinking continues or starts again. So it's crucial to incorporate Acamprosate as part of a treatment plan that includes psychosocial support in order to maintain abstinence from alcohol.

VIII. Side Effects of Acamprosate

A. Common Side Effects and Management

Acamprosate can cause side effects like any medication, although many people may not experience any or only have minor ones. Some common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and itching.

Fortunately, most of these side effects are temporary. It can be managed by addressing the symptoms.

  • For example if you experience diarrhea staying hydrated and taking the medication with meals can help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Similarly, nausea often improves over time. Might be relieved by taking the medication with food.



B. Serious Side Effects and Immediate Actions

While it is uncommon, there is a possibility of experiencing adverse effects. These may consist of allergic reactions such as ;

  • Rash


Example of Rash

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Intense dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dark urine
  • Persistent nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin 

In the case of an allergic reaction, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance. If you experience heartbeat, dark urine, or persistent vomiting while taking Acamprosate, discontinue its use and promptly contact your healthcare provider.

C. Long-Term Side Effects and Monitoring

Regarding long-term effects, there is data available. Nonetheless, a few studies indicate that extended use of Acamprosate may lead to a decline in kidney function.

Therefore, monitoring the renal function of patients undergoing Acamprosate therapy is recommended to identify any potential impairment in kidney function.

IX. Contraindications and Warnings for Acamprosate

A. Absolute Contraindications

Acamprosate should not be used by individuals with kidney problems (creatinine clearance less than 30 ml/min) due to the potential for increased exposure to the drug.

Additionally, it is important to avoid Acamprosate if there is a known allergy or hypersensitivity to acamprosate calcium or any of the ingredients in the medication.

B. Relative Contraindications

When it comes to drawbacks, it is important to exercise caution when using Acamprosate in individuals who have moderate kidney problems.

These patients should be given a dose and have their kidney function closely monitored.

Additionally, because there is information available, it is advisable to use Acamprosate with care in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

C. Important Warnings and Precautions to Consider

It's important to keep in mind that Acamprosate does not completely get rid of or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Acamprosate does not provide a cure, for alcohol dependence. Its purpose is to assist in maintaining abstinence while also being part of a psychosocial support program.

X. Administration of Acamprosate in Special Populations

A. Administration to the Elderly: Precautions and Dose Adjustments

In individuals, the functioning of the kidneys may not be as efficient. Therefore it is important to choose medication doses and closely monitor kidney function. It is advisable to administer or less frequent doses for elderly patients due to their naturally reduced kidney function.

B. Administration to Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers: Risks and Recommendations

Acamprosate should only be taken during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks to the baby. This is because there haven't been studies to determine its safety.

If you're breastfeeding, it's also important to be cautious because we don't know if Acamprosate is passed through breast milk.

C. Administration to Children: Guidelines and Limitations

The use of Acamprosate in children and adolescents has not been proven to be safe and effective. As a result, it is not advisable to administer Acamprosate to patients under the age of 18.

XI. Overdose of Acamprosate

A. Recognizing Symptoms of Overdose

While it is uncommon an excessive amount of Acamprosate may result in symptoms such as;

  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion decreased reflexes
  • Indigestion
  • Drowsiness.

Some patients may also mention experiencing bradycardia or a slower heart rate.

B. Immediate Actions and Medical Interventions

If someone experiences an overdose, it is crucial to seek medical help. Although there is no cure, for Acamprosate it is advisable to provide support by monitoring vital signs and observing the patient's overall condition.

C. Prevention Measures and Education

Avoiding an overdose requires following the prescribed dosages and ensuring that patients are aware of the potential risks associated with surpassing the recommended dose. Regular consultations with healthcare professionals and utilizing pillboxes to keep medications organized can also prove helpful.

XII. Storage and Handling Precautions for Acamprosate

Store Acamprosate at room temperature, ensuring it is kept in a well-lit area. Avoid storing it in the bathroom, and make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets.

B. Safety Measures During Handling

When it comes to how you handle the tablets, it's important not to crush or chew them. Also, be careful to avoid any contact with your skin or eyes.

C. Disposal of Unused or Expired Medication

It is important to dispose of any medication that is no longer needed or has expired in a manner. It should not be flushed down the toilet or Poured into a drain unless specifically instructed to do so.

XIII. Careful Administration and Important Precautions

A. The Role of Regular Monitoring and Follow-ups

It is important to monitor the patient's health and how they respond to Acamprosate treatment. This helps us identify and manage any side effects early on ensuring that the treatment is as effective, as possible.

B. Patient Education and Counseling Points

It is crucial to educate patients about the role of Acamprosate in managing alcohol dependence, the side effects, the significance of sticking to the treatment plan, and the importance of regular checkups.

Additionally, patients should be informed not to share their medication with others even if they experience symptoms.

C. Precautions for Patients with Co-existing Health Conditions

It is important to be cautious when giving Acamprosate to patients who have health conditions. For instance, patients with kidney issues may need changes in their dosage and extra monitoring.

As always, it is crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages and create personalized treatment plans for each individual patient.

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