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How long does acamprosate stay in your system?

Acamprosate is a medication that can help cut cravings for alcohol and address protracted symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (PAWS). While it takes about 5 days to begin working, effects are usually dependent on dose continuation.

So, how long does acamprosate stay in your body?  For as long as you’re taking it. The half-life of a regular dose of acamprosate ranges is around 20-30 hours. More on acamprosate and its metabolism here, with a section at the end for your questions.

Main acamprosate uses

Acamprosate (brand name Campral) is used to help people maintain sobriety after they stop drinking. It is known that long term and excessive drinking changes the brain’s chemistry and alters the way the brain works. Acamprosate helps the brain to start working normally again and reduces the desire for alcohol or cravings which can seriously jeopardize the recovery process. People who use acaprosate along with counseling, social support and adequate alcohol treatment have the best chances in succeeding in alcohol recovery. In sum, acamprosate works to treat alcoholism when used in combination with psychotherapy.

How do you take acamprosate?

Acamprosate treatment is generally initiated after a person has stopped drinking, but it treatment can also begin during withdrawal. It has also proven to be safe for use even while still drinking (or with benzodiazepines) during a medically supervised withdrawal. However, acamprosate effectiveness and best outcomes occur when combined with psycho-social support (psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, social support groups).

Acamprosate comes in a tablet with a delayed-release mechanism. The tablet should not be split, cut, chewed or crushed. It’s intended for oral use only, usually taken with regular meals. The recommended dose of acamprosate is two 333 mg tablets (666 mg per dose) taken three times daily. Doctors recommend taking acamprosate along with breakfast, lunch and dinner to help you remember all three doses.

Peak levels and half-life of acamprosate

Acamprosate is absorbed into the bloodstream through the paracellular route in the gastro-intestinal tract. Absorption is rapid (but limited) after oral administration. The absolute bioavailability of acamprosate after oral administration is about 11%. The plasma concentrations of acamprosate reach steady levels within 5 days of regular dosing, while peak plasma concentrations average 350 ng/mL and occur within 3-8 hours after administered dose. The terminal half-life of a regular dose of acamprosate (2 x 333mg) ranges anywhere from 20 up to 30 hours.

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Acamprosate does not get metabolized in the human system and it’s not protein bound. It is excreted exclusively through the kidneys. Because of its renal excretion only, some patients should be cautious when taking it:

1. Patients with moderate renal impairment are advised to reduce dosage to one 333mg tablet a day.

2. People age of 65 or older have a higher risk of diminished renal function. Upon starting acamprosate use in geriatric populations, baseline and frequent renal function tests should be performed.

3. For children or adolescents with alcohol problems, acamprosate should be prescribed with caution. The medication’s safety and efficacy have not been fully evaluated in adolescent populations.

Acamprosate drug testing: How long does acamprosate stay in the body?

Acamprosate is not a controlled substance. This means that no drug testing is performed for the detection of this medication. There is a simple explanation: acamprosate simply doesn’’t produce any euphoric effects and does not create tolerance, dependence or addiction in patients who are taking it.

Acamprosate and addiction

There is no evidence that acamprosate produces any withdrawal symptoms in clinical trials among those who take it at therapeutic doses. Data suggests there is no evidence that this medication is eligible for abuse or dependence. In other words, taking acamprosate does not get you high.

Problems with acamprosate?

Acamprosate is mostly a safe medication. However, there are some possible problems that may arise in people taking it. Most common side effects of acamprosate use include:

  • anxiety diarrhea and intestinal cramps
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • flatulence
  • insomnia
  • itchiness
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea

While less common, depression and suicide have also been reported in those taking acamprosate. If you experience any unusual problems while taking acamprosate, you should report these problems to a medical professional. If these symptom are severe or do not go away, call your doctor immediately.

Questions about acamprosate in the body?

Still have a questions about acamprosate? Please send us your questions in the comments section below. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NIG: TOXNET: Acamprosate 
NCBI: Neuroprotective and abstinence-promoting effects of acamprosate: elucidating the mechanism of action
NCBI: Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice: Chapter 2-Acamprosate
SAMHSA: Acamprosate: A New Medication For Alcohol Use Disorders
Medline Plus: Acamprosate

Photo credit: G. Oczan


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7 Responses to “How long does acamprosate stay in your system?
5:32 am December 28th, 2015

Hi, I am having difficulty taking six tablets a day. I seem to manage four (two twice a day) but really struggle with the three doses. Does this mean I should not take them at all? I am leaving for overseas and don’t have time to see my doctor before I go.
Thanks Angela.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
10:24 am December 29th, 2015

Hi, Angela. I suggest you call your doctor or a pharmacist, and seek advice. If you struggle with the dosage, then maybe you don’t need them.

2:18 am May 2nd, 2017

Hi, ive been having some extreme joint pain in my knees, fingers, back, and shoulders. Is this common? My doctor is doing blood work, i just want the pain to stop.

2:01 pm May 20th, 2017

I am away from home for two days a day have forgot to pack them I took some in the morning will I be ok

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:06 pm May 22nd, 2017

Hi Simon. Acamprosate has no addictive potential. So, you may struggle with cravings on your own for two days. I also suggest that you consult with your doctor about your issues.

7:23 pm May 26th, 2017

Hi, I have been taking campral for nearly 3 weeks and my side effect is dizziness, if I look down and then up or vice Versa, I feel dizzy, is this likely to continue or will it stop soon? Thanks

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:01 pm May 30th, 2017

Hi Tracey. I suggest that you speak with your doctor about this issue.

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