Campral Use and Side Effects
Campral is a medication used in addiction treatment. Read on for more information about Campral uses, benefits, and potential side effects, and how to get support if you or a loved is battling alcohol addiction.
What Is Campral?
Campral, also known as acamprosate calcium, is used to reduce cravings in those dependent on alcohol. A relatively new drug, Campral has only been in use since the late 1980s.
The drug was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004. Now, Campral is one of several alcohol abstinence drugs included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Treatment Improvement Protocols.
How Does Campral Work?
Campral is a gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, agonist. The drug stimulates GABA receptors, inducing a sense of calm and reduction in anxiety levels.
With regard to addiction, Campral may also reduce cravings. When someone is addicted to alcohol, their brain changes chemically. Campral helps stabilize the chemistry of the brain that was disrupted by ongoing alcohol abuse.
Scientists do not fully understand why Campral is effective. According to the Journal of the American Family Physician, scientists believe the drug inhibits neurological receptors in the brain that are related to addiction. At the same time, Campral opens up receptors that impact overall nervous system activity.
How Is Campral Used?
Campral is most frequently used by people seeking to permanently abstain from alcohol, rather than those simply wishing to scale back the frequency of their drinking. The drug is typically introduced 5 days after a person’s last drink.
This can be useful if a person is dealing with polysubstance abuse and needs to taper off opioids or benzodiazepines during recovery.
Frequently prescribed in 333 mg tablets, Campral is typically taken 3 times daily. Depending on the dose, doctors may recommend taking the medication with food.
The drug should never be crushed or broken up. It is important that the dosage is not altered in any way unless recommended by a doctor. Taking more Campral will not speed up results, and could increase the side effects associated with the drug.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry illustrated the benefits of using Campral with naltrexone, a drug that can reduce the desire to take opioids. The combination of these drugs can be more effective than Campral on its own.
Disulfiram, a drug that causes an unpleasant reaction to alcohol, is also sometimes used in conjunction with Campral.
Side Effects of Campral
Side effects of Campral use range from relatively benign to incredibly serious. The most common side effect is diarrhea, which affects 10%–17% of users.
Other common side effects may include:
- Chest and abdominal pain.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Skin rashes.
- Digestive disorders like heartburn and indigestion.
- Allergic reactions.
- Weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
- Dry mouth.
Some people who take Campral may experience more serious side effects. These risks include:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Dangerously low blood pressure.
- Kidney problems.
- Cardiac arrhythmia.
- Cognitive impairments.
- Hypertension or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Sexual dysfunction.
Not everyone should use Campral. People struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts should not take the medication. Neither should those with kidney disease or dysfunction.
People who are allergic to sulfites, dyes, and preservatives should also avoid Campral. Pregnant women or mothers currently breastfeeding should not take the drug either.
Can Campral Cure Addiction?
No medication is a cure for addiction. Addiction a chronic disease that can be treated, but medication is only one component of a comprehensive treatment program.
Campral may help patients who are dependent on alcohol, but only to some degree. Doctors typically recommend using Campral in conjunction with additional evidence-based treatments like behavioral therapy and counseling.
Campral does not make people quit drinking, nor does the drug treat symptoms associated with alcohol detoxification.
Is Campral Addictive?
No. One of the reasons why Campral is so useful in treating alcohol addiction is that the drug is non-habit forming. It is not a controlled substance in the United States, nor does it cause users to build up tolerance to their prescribed dosage.
Campral carries very little risk of overdose. The drug also has no known withdrawal symptoms. Campral use can be stopped immediately, without a tapering down process.
Campral is not dangerous, but caution should be used when taking it. The drug may impair a person’s ability to operate heavy machinery, so users should avoid driving while taking it.
Is Campral Effective?
Yes, Campral has proven effective in treating alcohol use disorder, but with some limitations.
One clinical trial found that people taking Campral had a much better chance at long-term recovery than those taking a placebo. Still, the researchers acknowledged some limitations. People abusing multiple substances at the same time were less successful with Campral than those facing alcohol dependency alone.
As mentioned, treatment medications are just one part of a comprehensive alcohol rehab program that addresses the underlying causes of addiction.
Finding Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
At Recovery First Treatment Center near Miami, we offer different types of treatment for alcohol addiction. Our detox and rehab facility in Hollywood, Florida, tailors treatment plans to meet the individual needs of each patient.
Our admissions navigators can answer any questions, , and start the admissions process.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, we can help you begin the path to recovery.