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Generic name: acamprosate (a KAM proe sate)
All FDA black box warnings are at the end of this fact sheet. Please review before taking this medication.
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of substance use disorders. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies is effective in the treatment of substance use disorders and can help some people to sustain recovery.
Acamprosate is a medication that works in the brain to treat alcohol use disorder. Acamprosate works by decreasing cravings and urges to use alcohol. This allows people who take the medication to control urges to drink and help to continue to not use alcohol. Acamprosate does not help with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Symptoms of alcohol use disorder include:
Abstinence, or the restraining of oneself from indulging in alcohol, is required to start treatment with acamprosate.
If you relapse, you should continue to take acamprosate and see your health care provider as soon as possible. Treatment with acamprosate should be continued in the event of relapse.
Do not stop taking acamprosate, even when you feel better. Only your health care provider can determine the length of treatment that is right for you.
Missing doses of acamprosate may increase your risk for relapse.
Patients with kidney problems may need lower doses and need to be monitored while using acamprosate. This can be accomplished through blood tests. Patients with severe kidney problems may not be candidates for acamprosate. Your health care provider can assess if the medication is appropriate for use.
Patients with substance use disorders are at a higher risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. If you experience any thoughts of self-harm, call 911 or go to your closest emergency room.
It is important to combine acamprosate with counseling and other support.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your health care provider to best manage your medications. People living with substance use disorders that wish to become pregnant face important decisions and challenges. Active substance use during pregnancy puts the fetus at great risk. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of continued treatment with your doctor and caregivers.
There is limited data on the effects of acamprosate on the fetus when used in pregnant women. It is likely that acamprosate crosses the placenta and can be transferred to the fetus. Adverse events were observed in animal reproductive studies including structural abnormalities. These results cannot be applied to humans; therefore, acamprosate should only be used in pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risk to the fetus.
Caution should be exercised when using acamprosate while breastfeeding as it is not known if acamprosate crosses into the breast milk. The effects of acamprosate on the baby are unknown.
The usual dose of acamprosate is 666 mg taken three times daily. However, a lower dose may be effective in some patients. Follow the directions of your health care provider in regards to the appropriate dose that you should take.
Acamprosate is available as an oral tablet that should be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed.
Acamprosate oral tablets are usually taken three times daily with or without food. However, taking them three times daily with meals may help to increase compliance.
Consider using a calendar, pillbox, alarm clock, or cell phone alert to help you remember to take your medication. You may also ask a family member or friend to remind you or check in with you to be sure you are taking your medication.
If you miss a dose of acamprosate, take it as soon as you remember unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.
Avoid drinking alcohol while using acamprosate.
Common side effects
Rare/serious side effects
To date, there are no known problems associated with long term use of acamprosate. It is a safe and effective medication when used as directed.
There are no known significant interactions involving a decrease or increase in effect.
Talk to your healthcare providers about all of the medications you are taking.
Acamprosate will begin working shortly after taking one dose.
There are no FDA black box warnings for acamprosate.
Last Reviewed: January 2023
This information is being provided as a community outreach effort of the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists. This information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice. This information contains a summary of important points and is not an exhaustive review of information about the medication. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified medical professional with any questions you may have regarding medications or medical conditions. Never delay seeking professional medical advice or disregard medical professional advice as a result of any information provided herein. The American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists disclaims any and all liability alleged as a result of the information provided herein.
©2022 American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP). AAPP makes this document available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Last Updated: January 2016.