Acamprosate prevents relapse to drinking in alcoholism

September 8, 2010

Acamprosate reduces the number of patients being treated for alcoholism who return to drinking, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The drug showed moderate benefits in trials when used in addition to non-drug treatments.

Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of ill health. According to the , is at the root of around a quarter of all cases of oesophageal cancer, and epilepsy, as well as road accidents and homicides. Acamprosate and are drugs used alongside psychosocial methods to help prevent relapse in alcoholics who are trying to stop .

The researchers reviewed data from 24 randomised controlled trials, considered the gold standard for clinical studies. Altogether these trials involved 6,915 alcohol dependent patients who were also undergoing psychosocial therapies. Acamprosate prevented relapse in one in every nine patients who had stopped drinking and increased the number of days patients spent not drinking by an average of three days a month. The researchers showed that the risk of a patient on acamprosate returning to drinking was 86% of that of a patient who took a placebo instead. was the only side effect that was more frequently reported under acamprosate than placebo.

"Acamprosate is certainly no magic bullet, but it is a safe and effective treatment for patients who are trying to stop drinking," said lead researcher Susanne Rösner of the Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Munich, Germany. "The benefits we have seen in these trials are small. However, we must remember that these are additional benefits on top of those from other non-drug therapies."

The researchers stress the need to respect a patient's right to choose by providing all the necessary information about the benefits and drawbacks of the drugs when recommending a therapeutic strategy. "Patients' doubts and reservations against a strategy that uses one substance to treat dependency on another should be taken seriously, while interventions that have been shown to work should not kept back from patients," said Rösner.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Drug for spinal muscular atrophy prompts ethical dilemmas, bioethicists say

December 11, 2017
When the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for people with spinal muscular atrophy a year ago, clinicians finally had hope for improving the lives of patients with the rare debilitating muscular disease. ...

FDA's program to speed up drug approval shaved nearly a year off the process

December 7, 2017
Speeding the pace at which potentially lifesaving drugs are brought to market was a rallying cry for Donald Trump as a candidate, and is a stated priority of his Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. ...

Dangers of commonly prescribed painkillers highlighted in study

December 6, 2017
Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, a new study has revealed.

Viagra goes generic: Pfizer to launch own little white pill

December 6, 2017
The little blue pill that's helped millions of men in the bedroom is turning white. Drugmaker Pfizer is launching its own cheaper generic version of Viagra rather than lose most sales when the impotence pill gets its first ...

Surgery-related opioid doses can drop dramatically without affecting patients' pain

December 6, 2017
Some surgeons might be able to prescribe a third of opioid painkiller pills that they currently give patients, and not affect their level of post-surgery pain control, a new study suggests.

Four-fold jump in deaths in opioid-driven hospitalizations

December 4, 2017
People who end up in the hospital due to an opioid-related condition are four times more likely to die now than they were in 2000, according to research led by Harvard Medical School and published in the December issue of ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
not rated yet Sep 08, 2010
Acamprosate prevented relapse in one in every nine patients who had stopped drinking


Which is about the recovery rate with no assistance at all.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.