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Acamprosate (trade name Campral) is one of a few medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating particular symptoms that occur in alcohol use disorders. Other medications that have FDA approval for the treatment of alcohol abuse problems are ReVia (naltrexone) and Antabuse (disulfiram).
While its actual mechanism of action is not fully understood, acamprosate is believed toprimarily affect the activity of the excitatory neurotransmitter NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspirate) and the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). These are two of the major neurotransmitters that are affected by alcohol use and abuse.
Acamprosate may also affect other functions in the neurons, particularly the calcium channels in neurons that are associated with excitatory neuronal functioning. It is speculated that the use of acamprosate inhibits the actions of excitatory neurons and increases the effectiveness of inhibitory neurons that primarily utilize GABA. This results in its ability to reduce cravings in individuals recovering from alcohol use disorders.
Initial clinical research studies using double-blind controlled experimental research methodologies determined that acamprosate is an effective medicine that can be used in the treatment of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorders. Meta-analytic research is a method that combines the results of many research studies in order to determine the overall effects associated with multiple research studies as opposed to the effects with any singular study. Using meta-analytic procedures results in more reliable and valid findings than using single standard experimental double-blind placebo-controlled research studies; the combined results of numerous studies are more convincing evidence than the results of any single study.
A sampling of the major meta-analytic research regarding the use of acamprosate for the treatment of alcohol use disorders is outlined below:
Reviewing the results of the meta-analytic research indicates that acamprosate can assist individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorders.
However, the conclusions from the available research on the use of the drug indicate a few key findings:
Thus, the major contribution of acamprosate during the treatment of an alcohol use disorder is to help an individual control and deal with cravings while they are already abstinent from alcohol use.
There are some potential side effects associated with the use of acamprosate.
Acamprosate is an FDA-approved medication that can be useful as an additional treatment for individuals who are already in recovery from alcohol use disorder. The drug is useful in reducing cravings for alcohol in people who are already abstinent from alcohol, have been able to maintain abstinence for a week or longer, and are motivated to be successful in their recovery. Acamprosate cannot reduce a person’s intake of alcohol while they are still drinking or directly affect any withdrawal symptoms associated with abstinence from alcohol.