By Lilian Anekwe
Patients who take acamprosate after alcohol detoxification are less likely to return to drinking than those who do not, a Cochrane review has concluded.
Although the effect is 'moderate', researchers say the limited therapeutic optons for these patients make it a valuable treatment.
German researchers reviewed data from 24 randomised controlled trials of 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.
Compared to patients on placebo those on acamprosate had a 14% lower risk of returning to drinking. Diarrhoea was the only side effect that was more frequently reported under acamprosate than placebo.
Lead researcher Dr Susanne Rösner, a psychiatrist at the University of Munich, said: ‘Acamprosate is certainly no magic bullet, but it is a safe and effective treatment for patients who are trying to stop drinking. 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.'
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD004332.Acamprosate is effective for alcohol dependency