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Experts are still studying how this medicine works. It appears to reduce cravings for alcohol by helping balance brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It also might reduce anxiety, mood swings, and sleep problems caused by alcohol withdrawal.1
Acamprosate was approved by Health Canada to treat alcohol dependence in people who have quit drinking. This medicine is used to reduce cravings for alcohol, and it might help with anxiety and other problems caused by withdrawal. It can be used along with some other medicines.
During trials, side effects didn't bother most people who took acamprosate. Diarrhea was the most common side effect. Some people had belly pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, rash, itching, flatulence, or dizziness. A very small number of people who took the medicine had an increase in suicidal thoughts or had serious kidney problems.3
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
People with kidney problems might not be able to take this medicine or might need lower doses.
In one study, a combination of acamprosate and a medicine called naltrexone (ReVia) worked better than either drug by itself.2
In addition to medicines, counselling can also help you stop drinking. You might also want to attend a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
- Schuckit MA (2009). Alcohol-related disorders section of Substance-related disorders. In BJ Sadock et al., eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 10th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1268–1288. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Kiefer F, et al. (2003). Comparing and combining naltrexone and acamprosate in relapse prevention of alcoholism: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60(1): 92–99.
- Acamprosate (Campral) for alcoholism (2005). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 47(1199): 1–3.
Last Revised: April 19, 2012
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