Acamprosate vs. Other Treatments: Choosing the Best Option

medication to stop drinking alcohol

Few things are more frustrating and heartbreaking than watching someone you love suffer from alcoholism, or suffering from it yourself. At Serenity Light, we understand that this disease is cunning, baffling and powerful. Along with therapy, 12-step recovery, and a supportive community, we’ve seen how medications like Acamprosate can be enormously beneficial. Below, we’ll dive into the details of Acamprosate and why it could be the first step in your journey to recovery from alcoholism. 

What is Acamprosate Used For?

Acamprosate, a commonly prescribed prescription medication known commonly by the brand name Campral, is specifically designed to treat alcohol abuse. Unlike some treatments that target the detoxification process or cravings directly, acamprosate helps restore the brain’s chemical balance altered by long-term alcohol use. It’s particularly effective in reducing the drinking alcohol urge and is an essential component of comprehensive mental health services for substance abuse.

Comparison with Other Treatments

1. Disulfiram and Naltrexone

Other medications like disulfiram and naltrexone also treat alcoholism, but their mechanisms and side effects differ. Disulfiram causes severe physical reactions when alcohol is consumed, which deters drinking behavior. Naltrexone, on the other hand, blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol. Acamprosate does not interact with alcohol directly; instead, it eases withdrawal symptoms and supports long-term abstinence.

2. Psychological Interventions

Cognitive-behavioral therapies and other psychological interventions are also pivotal in the treatment of alcohol dependence. These approaches help modify drinking behavior and effectively manage the triggers of alcohol intake. While these are crucial for recovery, acamprosate can be used concurrently to manage the physiological aspects of alcohol dependence.

3. Long Acting Injectable Formulation

Some treatments involve long acting injectable formulations of medications like naltrexone. These provide a steady dose of medication over time, improving compliance and reducing the risk of relapse. Acamprosate is taken orally, which might be preferable for those who are averse to injections.

Considerations in Choosing Acamprosate

Potential for Abuse

Acamprosate is generally considered to have a low potential for abuse. It works by modulating and stabilizing the chemical balance in the brain that is disrupted by alcohol dependence, rather than by producing a euphoric effect which is typically associated with drugs of abuse. Its primary function is to reduce the physical distress and emotional discomfort people often experience when they stop drinking alcohol. This makes it a key component of alcohol dependence treatment programs, often in combination with counseling and support.

For those managing alcohol dependence, acamprosate is considered a safe and effective option when used as directed under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Efficacy in Randomized Controlled Trials

The combined efficacy of acamprosate in randomized controlled trial has shown significant promise in reducing alcohol use. However, effectiveness can vary based on the individual’s overall health, the severity of the disorder, and concurrent use of other treatments.

Drug Interactions and Health Limitations

Acamprosate has relatively few drug interactions compared to other medications used in treating alcoholism. Still, individuals with severe renal impairment or liver disease must consult their healthcare provider before starting acamprosate, as it may not be the best option in these cases. At Serenity Light, we can help determine if Acamprosate is the best option for you.

Support from the Mental Health Services Administration

Endorsed by the Mental Health Services Administration, acamprosate is recognized for its role in the comprehensive treatment approach for alcohol use disorders. Support programs often include acamprosate as part of a broader strategy that encompasses both medication and counseling.

Find Hope and Healing: Reach Out to Serenity Light Recovery Today

Choosing the best treatment for alcohol dependence involves understanding the unique benefits and limitations of each option. At Serenity Light, we’re here to support your long-term journey to recovery in a way that works best for you. Reach out to our admissions team, and we’ll tailor a plan that best fits your individual needs for alcohol use disorder management. Remember: you don’t have to do this alone.


Medline Plus. (2016). Acamprosate.

Acamprosate (Campral) for Treatment of Alcoholism.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Acamprosate

No, acamprosate is designed to help individuals maintain abstinence from alcohol. It works best when you completely avoid drinking alcohol, as its primary function is to restore the brain’s chemical balance and reduce cravings, rather than managing the effects of alcohol consumption directly.

The efficacy of acamprosate in treating alcohol dependence has been confirmed in numerous randomized controlled trials. These trials have demonstrated that acamprosate significantly increases the rate of abstinence, decreases the number of drinking days, and helps in long-term relapse prevention when combined with counseling and psychosocial support.

Acamprosate primarily helps individuals maintain abstinence after they have stopped drinking and are past the initial alcohol withdrawal phase. It does not treat withdrawal symptoms directly but can reduce the discomfort associated with the prolonged abstinence phase by stabilizing chemical imbalances in the brain caused by chronic alcohol use.

The treatment of alcohol dependence often includes a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. Medications such as acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram are commonly used, each working through different mechanisms to help reduce alcohol intake or maintain abstinence. Psychological interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy are also highly effective in treating alcohol use disorders.

Long-acting injectable formulations, such as injectable naltrexone, offer consistent medication delivery, which can improve treatment adherence and outcomes. These formulations are especially beneficial for individuals who might struggle with daily medication adherence or those who prefer not to take pills daily. While acamprosate does not come in an injectable form, considering the availability of long-acting options is important for a comprehensive treatment plan.

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