Acamprosate For Alcoholism Uses and Side Effects

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a prevalent health concern globally. The treatment of alcohol dependency has evolved with medications like Acamprosate. According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), almost 29 million adults aged 18 and above had AUD in the past year.

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How Does Acamprosate Work?

Scientists are still exploring the exact mechanism behind acamprosate’s effectiveness, but they believe it works by influencing the balance of brain chemicals. Acamprosate helps normalize chemical imbalances brought on by alcohol dependence.

Unlike other medications that help with alcohol withdrawal, it aids in managing alcohol cravings and preventing relapse. This plays an important role in long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.

How Acamprosate Affects The Body

Impact on Glutamate Levels

Alcohol dependence can lead to high levels of glutamate, which amps up brain activity. Acamprosate may act by dampening its excessive activity, leading to a calmer state.

Impact on GABA and Taurine Levels

These are inhibitory neurotransmitters, that calm down brain activity. Acamprosate might increase their levels or sensitivity, creating a counterbalance to glutamate’s hyperactivity.

NMDA Receptor Modulation

Acamprosate might interact with NMDA receptors, which are crucial for learning and memory. This interaction could potentially weaken the association between alcohol cues and rewarding effects, reducing cravings.

Calcium Channels

Some research suggests Acamprosate might influence calcium channels within neurons, further contributing to its stabilizing effect on brain activity.

Is Acamprosate a controlled substance?

No, Acamprosate is not a controlled substance. It has a low abuse potential and doesn’t produce any euphoric effects or intoxication. People taking Acamprosate also don’t experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug.

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While generally well-tolerated, Acamprosate may have side effects that may be unpleasant for people taking them. Understanding these potential effects can also help patients make informed decisions for treatment. Medical professionals usually educate people about these side effects before prescribing the medication.

Common Acamprosate Side Effects

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Muscle or Joint Pains

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Allergic Reactions

Impact on Mental Health

In some cases, patients taking Acamprosate can experience severe side effects that can affect their mental health. These side effects include having suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and anhedonia.

What To Expect in Acamprosate Treatment

Acamprosate is suitable for individuals at various stages of alcohol dependence. Here’s what to expect through the process:

Doctors will assess your medical history and the severity of alcohol dependence. They may also check for kidney problems and rule out any pre-existing conditions.

Healthcare professionals will provide detailed information about the drug including potential benefits, side effects, and alternative treatment options.

Acamprosate is typically taken orally, three times a day, regardless of meals. The standard dose is 666mg per tablet, so you’ll usually take two tablets per dose.

Regular Monitoring

Regular check-ups with your doctor are crucial to monitor your progress. Doctors may adjust the dosage if needed, and address any side effects.

Acamprosate works best as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling, support groups, and lifestyle changes. These help address the underlying psychological and social factors contributing to alcohol dependence.

Doctors recommend Acamprosate for long-term use. Treatment ideally lasts for several months, to optimize its effectiveness in preventing relapse. Maintaining engagement in therapy, support groups, and healthy lifestyle is also important for recovery.

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The half-life of Acamprosate in the oral route is around 30 to 33 hours. Its elimination can vary based on several factors including dosage, kidney function, and taking the drug with food.

Other Factors Affecting Acamprosate Half-Life

Acamprosate is not fully soluble with water. The drug has a bioavailability of only about 11%, meaning the bloodstream only absorbs this amount.

Once absorbed, Acamprosate does not extensively bind to plasma proteins. This means that it is fairly freely available to distribute throughout the body. It does not cross the blood-brain barrier to any significant extent.

Instead of the liver, the kidneys metabolize Acamprosate. The body eliminates about half of the drug through urine within 24 hours.

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Acamprosate has no known severe drug interactions. However, it has a moderate interaction with Naltrexone, which is another drug used to treat alcohol dependence.

Naltrexone is a drug used in Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid and alcohol dependence. Unlike Acamprosate, it works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain.

Combining these drugs might increase the risk of side effects like headaches or dizziness. However, in some cases doctors may recommend a combination of both, as each medication targets different aspects of addiction.

What happens if you drink on Acamprosate?

Drinking on Acamprosate generally won’t cause any immediate, severe reactions unlike some other medications used for alcohol dependence, such as Disulfiram (Antabuse). It doesn’t directly interact with alcohol so it may not cause any unpleasant side effects. However, drinking alcohol while taking the drug can still undermine its intended purpose.

Acamprosate is not a cure for alcoholism. However, it helps manage the condition and prevent relapse when combined with other treatment efforts. Seek medical attention and work closely with health care professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you.

Here at Scottsdale Detox, we aim to prioritize your well-being by addressing the physical and mental health aspects of addiction. We offer a comprehensive treatment program that includes medical detox, counseling, therapy, and more.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, we are here to help. Contact our team today and learn about our treatment options.

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