Alcohol addiction is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on a person’s physical and mental health. Many people who struggle with alcoholism turn to various forms of treatment in order to regain control of their lives and overcome their addiction. One method that has been shown to be effective is treating alcohol addiction addiction using acamprosate.
Acamprosate is a medication that helps reduce the desire to drink alcohol and restore balance to your brain. People start taking Acamprosate, or Campral as it’s more commonly known, after completing a detox programme at an alcohol rehab centre.
When used in combination with counselling, the drug is fantastic in helping people stay off alcohol.
If you’re a long-term alcoholic or have a severe drinking problem, Acamprosate is the ideal drug to help curb your urge for alcohol.
How Does It Work?
You can start using Acamprosate after a detox programme, and you’re free from withdrawal symptoms, usually after five days. Acamprosate works by tapping into your brain’s reward system, reducing your urge to use alcohol. When you drink, you experience a ‘high’, and Acamprosate stops this, ending the cycle of cravings and addiction.
Acamprosate also helps prevent sleep disturbances such as insomnia and anxiety that many people experience when they want alcohol.
Please remember that Acamprosate won’t stop you from drinking. It doesn’t help with withdrawal symptoms either. It’s important to detox first, get through the withdrawal process with the help of medically trained professionals, and then move on to Acamprosate.
How Does Acamprosate Help The Brain?
Long term drinking changes your brain chemistry. Our bodies produce a natural chemical called glutamine which acts as a stimulant. Drinking alcohol reduces glutamine levels in the body, and the brain gets used to the sedated, relaxed feeling. When a person stops drinking and tries to come off alcohol, glutamine levels increase, making them agitated, leading the brain to crave more alcohol to feel normal again.
Acamprosate helps reduce glutamine production, stopping you from craving the sedative effects of alcohol.
How Do I Take Acamprosate?
Acamprosate comes in white tablet form, with the number ‘333’ on one side. You take 2 tablets three times a day at every mealtime — so that’s 6 tablets every day. You’ll likely take acamprosate for up to a year. You must remember to take your medication, as it won’t work if you skip a dose. Putting your medicines in a pill box, setting reminder alarms on your phone, and asking for support from family and friends is all helpful.
If you weigh less than 60kg, you should take 4 tablets rather than 6; 2 after breakfast, 1 after lunch and 1 in the evening.
It’s crucial not to drink alcohol when you take Acamprosate, as it won’t work.
Acamprosate is a non-drowsy medication, so it won’t affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.
What Are The Side Effects?
Most medications have side effects, and this is often your body’s response to any new medicines. You may not experience any side effects, but we’ve listed below the most common and rare ones.
If you want to read more about potential side effects, click here to read the electronic manufacturer’s leaflet.
Common side effects, usually mild:
-Stomach ache and nausea
-Reduced sexual drive
Like with all medications, there are some rare side effects. These include:
-Depression and suicidal ideas
-Sight and hearing problems
Speak to your doctor if you experience any side effects. They may be able to lower your dose, change your medication completely or prescribe you anti-sickness medicine.
If you’re feeling suicidal, please call The Samaritans on 116 123 for help from a trained counsellor.
Can Everyone Take Them?
Acamprosate is suitable for most people, but it isn’t the drug for you if you fall into the below categories. We can advise you on alternative medications to suit you.
-You’ve had allergic reactions to medicines in the past.
-You have kidney problems.
-If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant.
-If you’re under 18 and over 65. Acamprosate is only suitable for people aged 18-65.
We advise you to read the leaflet in your medication pack to familiarise yourself with Acamprosate before taking it. Make sure that you’re aware of your daily dose, as advised by your doctor. Don’t take any more than prescribed, and swallow the tablets whole — don’t crush or snap them in half.
Is Acamprosate Addictive?
Non-clinical and clinical studies showed that it has little or no abuse potential. This is reassuring news, as you won’t be replacing an alcohol addiction with another.
How Long Does It Take For My Cravings To Stop?
If you’ve been an alcoholic for years or have a severe drinking problem, your body is used to the crave and reward cycle. You may have to wait up to 8 days for acamprosate to kick in, so please be patient. And don’t give up! Don’t stop taking the medication if it doesn’t work straight away. Instead, speak to your counsellor and continue attending therapy sessions as they can help you in the meantime.
Can I Take Acamprosate Alongside Other Medication?
Most medications are safe to use alongside Acamprosate. You can safely take Acamprosate AND drugs prescribed to treat opiate addiction — this means opiate-based drugs, including heroin and prescription drugs such as codeine and methadone.
Acamprosate doesn’t interfere with anti-depressants, so you can continue taking your medication without interruption if you receive treatment for depression or anxiety.
Part Of Your Wider Recovery Plan
Acamprosate is a valuable part of your recovery process, but you need to combine it with counselling, support groups and regular check-ins with your chosen rehab centre.
It’s not enough to take Acamprosate and hope you’ll never drink alcohol again. Long-term recovery takes time and effort and depends on your determination, the support of family and friends, and committing to therapy.
When To Stop Taking Acamprosate
You can take Acamprosate for up to a year. Once you feel ready to come off it and your cravings have gone away, it’s time to think about coming off Acamprosate. Discuss how you’re feeling with your doctor. You must have a long-term support plan in place to help you. Support groups and individual therapy play a vital role in the recovery process.
If you want to learn more about Acamprosate, please call us on 0800 470 0382.