Campral is a prescription medication that helps reduce alcohol cravings. Learn how it’s used to help people living with addiction maintain their sobriety.

Campral is the brand name of the drug acamprosate, which is used to treat cravings and urges for people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

People with AUD who are no longer drinking alcohol are in remission. Since the urge to drink alcohol can linger, Campral helps stop urges to drink before they can cause a setback in a person’s sobriety.

Alcohol exhibits its effects by attaching to gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors on the surface of brain cells. GABA is a natural neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger between brain cells. Usually, GABA slows down signals sent from brain cell to brain cell. Alcohol mimics the effects of GABA, producing too much of the slowing effect in certain parts of the brain.

Campral binds GABA receptors in brain cells, similarly to alcohol. Blocking the regular site of action of alcohol helps reduce the urge to drink without producing the same addiction-inducing euphoria caused by alcohol.

Article at a Glance:

  • Campral is prescribed for people with an AUD in remission
  • Campral does not help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Campral helps prevent cravings, making it easier to stop drinking
  • The main side effect of Campral use is diarrhea, but some people experience no side effects
  • Some people may use Campral lifelong depending on the severity of their disease

Why Use Campral for Alcohol Cravings?

Campral effectively reduces cravings for people after they go through alcohol withdrawal. It does not treat withdrawal symptoms, and a person should only start after alcohol withdrawal is over, usually a few weeks after stopping drinking.

Campral is most effective in people who want to quit drinking alcohol, but find their cravings difficult to manage.

Campral does not prevent a person from drinking alcohol, and unlike other medications for AUD, will not create uncomfortable side effects if alcohol is consumed. For people who begin drinking again, Campral reduces how much alcohol a person drinks, leading to lighter amounts of drinking than before.

Side Effects of Using Campral for Alcohol Cravings

Campral is a tolerable drug with few side effects. The most common side effect reported is diarrhea. Uncommon side effects are headache, dizziness, and itchiness.

The major downside of Campral is how often a person needs to take it each day. It is recommended to take it with food to make it easier to remember since the dosing is three times a day and can match a healthy meal schedule.

The usual dose of Campral is 666 mg, three times daily. If a person has a history of kidney problems, the dose of Campral will need to be reduced to 333 mg three times daily.

How Long Do You Use Campral for Alcohol?

Campral can be a lifelong medication. However, if an AUD is in long-term remission (usually several years), a doctor may consider discontinuing Campral. During this period, the person would be under more observation to prevent any sobriety setbacks.

Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
Conor Sheehy
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more
Sources

Kalk, Nicola; Lingford-Hughes, Anne. “The Clinical Pharmacology of Acamprosate.” 2014. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Wright, Tara; Myrick, Hugh. “Acamprosate: A New Tool in the Battle Against Alcohol Dependence.” 2006. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.