As scientists and clinicians learn more about the changes in brain chemistry that chronic alcohol use can cause, the pharmacotherapy of alcoholism has become increasingly relevant for the treatment of alcohol craving, abstinence, and relapse. A study in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines the effects of acamprosate (calcium acetyl homotaurinate), a medication used in Europe and elsewhere to prevent relapse in alcoholics, and currently under review for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The study's findings, in conjunction with previous research, indicate that acamprosate should be safe to take when people are drinking, and should not make them want to drink more or behave differently over and above the effects of alcohol alone.
"To our knowledge, this is the first published report that examines potential interactions between acamprosate and alcohol in humans," said Elisabeth J. Houtsmuller, assistant professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Other studies have shown that acamprosate helps people abstain from drinking, and our study examined what may underlie this. Because acamprosate acts on a neurotransmitter system the glutamate system that alcohol also has many effects on, we thought it was possible that acamprosate might change some of alcohol's effects, and this might be part of why it helps people to abstain. We therefore examined whether acamprosate alters the way alcohol makes people feel."
The findings suggest that acamprosate does not