Home > Choosing an Effective Drug Addiction Treatment Plan > GABA Agonist (Acamprosate) for Alcohol Treatment
Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid, or GABA, is a type of receptor in the brain that has been found to produce a sedative effect. A GABA Agonist is a synthetic medication that is taken to stimulate the GABA receptor. When a patient takes a GABA Agonist, patients will have a feeling of calm and a reduction in anxiety is produced.
Acamprosate calcium-acetyl homotaurinate is a GABA Agonist. It is a prescription medication that is prescribed to individuals who suffer alcohol addiction. This medication reduces the craving to drink alcohol. Sold world-wide under its brand name, Campral, the drug is believed to stabilize the chemical balance of the brain and inhibit certain receptors in the brain while activating others. It is understood that the medication only works when used in conjunction with other treatments such as abstinence from drinking and attendance at support group therapy. The medication is used by over 1.5 million people world wide to help them recover from alcoholism.
Acamprosate works to reduce cravings of alcohol through altering the levels of certain brain chemicals or receptors. When a person has abused alcohol for a long time, changes to the brain chemicals occur. This chemical imbalance needs to be properly restored so that overcoming the addiction to alcohol is possible. Research has shown that an imbalance in GABA and NMDA articular receptors in the brain can lead to alcohol dependency. Treating this imbalance with medication such as Acamprosate works by increasing the natural sedatives such as gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), while reducing stimulates such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA).
Acamprosate has been found to be very successful in helping those who suffer from alcoholism when used by patients who have stopped drinking or are in the process of stopping drinking. It should not be used by those who are still drinking heavily or those who abuse other drugs. The overall effect of the medication is to reduce the level of cravings that alcohol dependents experience when trying to cut out drinking. This should be done in conjunction with a medical professional and other behavioral therapy such as Motivational Enhancement
Acamprosate will be prescribed by a medical doctor and is usually taken orally three times a day. It can be taken with or without food. Acamprosate should be used as part of a wider therapy which should include abstinence and counseling. It is not used to treat symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol like other medications.
This medication should not be taken when drinking alcohol and prolonged drinking when on this medication will prevent it from working. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly and those who suffer from liver or kidney disorders should not use this medication.
There are some minor side effects associated with the use of Acamprosate. The most commonly reported side effects include a loss of appetite, dizziness, upset stomach and itching. Some serious side effects include an allergic reaction in the form of a rash or burning, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs which should be reported to a doctor immediately
Unlike other medications, Acamprosate reduces physical and emotional discomfort such as sweating, anxiety and sleep disturbances that alcohol dependents can experience when ceasing drinking. It is also not addictive and can be safely prescribed up to 12 months after ceasing alcohol consumption. Acamprosate been found to aid prevention in relapse in up to one in nine patients who had stopped drinking. Additionally, if a patient does relapse, acamprosate has been found to reduce the severity of relapse.
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