Acamprosate can help you to fight the desire to drink alcohol.
You will be prescribed three doses to take each day. Take each dose after a meal or with a snack.
It is important for you to keep your appointments with your doctor and counsellor so your progress can be monitored.
|Type of medicine||A medicine used for people with alcohol dependence|
|Used for||Maintaining abstinence from drinking|
|Also called||Campral EC®|
Acamprosate is used to help you maintain abstinence from alcohol if you have previously been alcohol-dependent and have now stopped drinking. It will be started as soon as possible after you have stopped drinking alcohol. Acamprosate can be useful alongside counselling if you are concerned that cravings for alcohol may result in you drinking again. It acts in your brain to reduce your desire to drink alcohol.
Before taking acamprosate
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking acamprosate it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works or with the way your kidneys work.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take acamprosate
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack of tablets. It will give you more information about acamprosate and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience.
- Take acamprosate exactly as your doctor tells you to. You will be prescribed one or two tablets to take three times a day. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you. Take your doses after meals, or with a snack.
- Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Do not crush or break the tablets - they should be swallowed whole as they have a special coating.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (with a snack). If when you remember, it is nearly time for your next dose then leave out the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor and counsellor. This is so your progress can be checked on a regular basis.
- Make sure your family and friends know how important it is that you do not drink any alcohol so they can be a support to you.
- Keep taking the tablets unless your doctor tells you otherwise. You may need to continue to take acamprosate for about a year, although your doctor will review this regularly.
Can acamprosate cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with acamprosate. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common acamprosate side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids|
|Common acamprosate side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, stomach ache, wind||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods. If you are sick, drink plenty of water|
|Itchy skin rash||Try using a moisturising cream, or ask your pharmacist to recommend a cream for short-term use. Speak with your doctor if the rash becomes troublesome|
|Reduced sexual desire or ability||If you are concerned about this, speak with your doctor for advice|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store acamprosate
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Do not keep-out-of date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Campral® EC; Merck Serono, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2011.
- British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Hannah Gronow