Conditions the medication is used for: Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Alcohol withdrawal, Addiction

Other names for the medication: Campral®

What is this medication used for?

Acamprosate (also known as Campral®) is mainly used to help treat alcohol dependence by reducing relapse, when used with counselling and support. Acamprosate is available as 333mg tablets. It is used in the many countries across the world.

What is the usual dose for this medication?

The usual dose of acamprosate is two tablets (666mg) three times a day.

How and when should I take the medication?

How to take:

Swallow the tablets with at least half a glass of water whilst sitting or standing. This is to make sure that they reach the stomach and do not stick in your throat. They are enteric-coated and so should not be chewed.  

When to take:

The usual dose is taken three times a day e.g. at breakfast, in the afternoon (lunch or tea) and at night. It is usually best taken with meals.

What are the alternatives to this medication?

There are some other medicines (e.g. disulfiram, nalmefene and naltrexone) and non-medicine treatments for alcohol dependence. Please look at one of our “Handy charts” for more help and advice on how to compare the main medicines, doses, how they work, side effects, how long to take and how to stop.

How long does the medication take to work?

Acamprosate should be started as soon as possible after you have stopped drinking alcohol. It will start to have an effect after about a week or so. The effect should build steadily over the next few months.

How long will I need to keep taking this medication for?

It is recommended to take acamprosate for a year. It may help to take it longer than that. Please look at one of the “Handy charts” for more help and advice on how long you might need to take it for.

Can I just stop taking this medication?

Yes you can, but obviously it will stop working. There are no “withdrawal” symptoms as such, even after a year. You could discuss this fully with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose or overdose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless it is within about 2 hours of your next dose. If you remember after this just take the next dose as normal. Do not try to catch up by taking two doses at once as you may get more side-effects.

Can I drink alcohol while on this medication?

It is not dangerous to drink alcohol with acamprosate but it will stop acamprosate working as well. If you do start to drink again, you should keep taking acamprosate. It may help you stop drinking again, and stay stopped.

Will this medication affect my other medications Including the Contraceptive pill?

Acamprosate does not seem to interact with any other medicines. You should have no problems with "The contraceptive pill"

What sort of side-effects might I get from taking this medication?

Side effect

What happens

What to do about it

VERY COMMON (more than about 1 in 10 people might get these)

Diarrhoea

Going to the toilet more than usual. Passing loose, watery stools. Having the “runs”.

Drink plenty of water. Get advice from your pharmacist. If it lasts for more than a day, contact your doctor.

Headaches

When your head is painful and pounding.

Try paracetamol. Your pharmacist will be able to advise if this is safe to take with any other medicines you may be taking.

COMMON (less than about 1 in 10 people might get these)

Stomach pain

Nausea and vomiting, and flatulence

Take the tablets with or after food. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe a medicine to help with these symptoms.

Skin rash and pruritis

Rashes anywhere on the skin. These may be itchy (pruritis).

Stop taking and contact your doctor now.

Sexual problems

Finding it hard to have an orgasm. No desire for sex.

Discuss with your doctor.

RARE (less than about 1 in 1000 people might get these)

Allergy

Rash and itching, difficulty breathing, being wheezy.

Stop taking and contact your doctor now. If you can’t get your doctor, go to the emergency department at your nearest hospital.

Irregular heartbeats

A fast heart beat.

It is not usually dangerous. It can easily be treated if it lasts a long time. Talk to your doctor about it.

 

 

Do not be worried by this list of side effects. Some people get no side effects at all and others may get some effects that are not listed in this table. If you think you might have a side effect to your medicine, you should ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Will I need to have blood tests?

You should not need to have any blood tests because you are taking acamprosate. You may need blood tests for other reasons.

Can I drive or cycle while on this medication?

Acamprosate should have no effect on your ability to drive, provided you have not been drinking of course. See our website for more information on driving in different countries.