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.
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.
Key Points: Alcohol and Campral
Keep the following key points in mind regarding alcohol and Campral:
- 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
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.
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.