Campral, also known as acamprosate, was approved by the FDA in 2003 for use in treating alcohol addiction and as an alcohol anti-craving drug. It is designed to block the pleasure areas of the brain, but it allows the GABA receptors to receive neurotransmitters. A person who drinks while taking Campral will not experience any pleasurable feelings from alcohol but will experience intoxication and alcohol withdrawal. Campral is not considered to be an addictive medication. Campral is also thought to influence the “resetting” of the glutamate receptors, which can help prevent post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).
The exact mechanism by which this drug affects the neurotransmitters is not understood, but studies have shown that it is three times more effective than the use of a placebo to maintain abstinence. The damage done by alcohol on brain functioning can be substantial. If such damage is not permanent, overcoming the changes in the brain as a result of alcohol abuse will take time. Campral can help the brain function in a relatively normal capacity. As with naltrexone, Campral is considered a support to treatment in alcohol rehabilitation centers and is not a substitute for alcohol treatment or a medically monitored alcohol detox program.
Campral should be started two weeks after alcohol detox has been completed while an addict is in alcohol treatment. Alcohol rehab physicians prescribe Campral to help with anxiety as well. If one drinks while taking Campral, intoxication and withdrawal will still occur. Campral is less likely to be effective if the patient is taking street drugs or abusing prescription drugs. For those who have not gone through detoxification and have not achieved abstinence, Campral is not effective. Campral can also be used as part of a relapse prevention program.
As with any other medication, Campral has a list of side effects. Some of the most common Campral side effects are:
- Dry Mouth
- Skin reactions
The most common side effect is diarrhea. Other common symptoms revolve around the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Most people experience discomfort in early treatment, but as the body adjusts, symptoms decrease.
Campral is not recommended for those who have kidney disease or are suffering from depression or suicidal thinking as these conditions may be worsened.
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