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Acamprosate

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VOL: 101, ISSUE: 36, PAGE NO: 35

Generic and proprietary names

 

Generic and proprietary names
- Acamprosate calcium.

 

 

- Campral EC.

 

 

Action
- Reduces the craving experienced by alcohol-dependent patients.

 

 

- It acts by stabilising the imbalance of neurotransmitters.

 

 

Classification
- Drugs used in substance dependence.

 

 

- A synthetic taurine analogue.

 

 

Indications
- Used to maintain abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients. The medication should be combined with counselling.

 

 

Contraindications
- Known sensitivity to this medication.

 

 

- Renal impairment.

 

 

- Severe hepatic impairment.

 

 

- Pregnancy.

 

 

- Breastfeeding.

 

 

Cautions
- Not recommended for use in older people or children.

 

 

Common side-effects
- Diarrhoea.

 

 

- Abdominal pain.

 

 

- Paresthesias (pins and needles) in limbs.

 

 

- Pruritus (itching).

 

 

Rare side-effects
- Altered libido.

 

 

- Skin reactions.

 

 

Interactions
- There is no interaction with alcohol and medication can be continued in the event of relapse. However, if regular abuse continues there is little point in taking the medication.

 

 

Administration
- Acamprosate does not directly affect withdrawal and should be initiated promptly afterwards in conjunction with counselling.

 

 

- Treatment should be continued for a period of one year and should be maintained if the patient relapses.

 

 

Nursing considerations
- There is no disulfiram-like action and no antidepressant effect. Therefore, this medication is not suitable for use as withdrawal treatment.

 

 

- Patients will need to be weighed as the appropriate dosage of this medication is dependent on body weight.

 

 

- Mental health problems such as depression that occur while taking this medication may be due to the drug or may be a feature of the underlying alcohol problems.

 

 

- Abrupt withdrawal is not associated with any adverse events after one year of treatment.

 

 

- Overdose is not a high risk and an unintentional extra dose is unlikely to be of concern. A large overdose may result in diarrhoea and appropriate medical action should be taken.

 

 

Patient teaching
- This medication should be taken with meals.

 

 

- Patients should be asked to speak to the prescribing health care professional before stopping taking the drug.

 

 

- The medication poses no special hazards with driving or operating heavy machinery.

 

 

- There is no evidence that acamprosate is addictive.

 

 

Nurses should refer to manufacturer’s summary of product characteristics and to appropriate local guidelines

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