Campral is the brand name of a prescription drug known as Acamprosate or Calcium-acetyl homotaurine. It is one of three drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating alcohol dependence. Physicians often prescribe the drug to patients being treated for alcohol dependence and benzodiazepine withdrawal. The sudden withdrawal of alcohol by alcoholics often results in behavioral agitation, autonomic instability, anxiety, shakiness, insomnia, and delirium tremens as well as putting them at a greater risk for epilepsy and seizures. Campral acts as a counter-balancing agent in restoring homeostasis to the patient. When a patient begins a program of alcohol abstinence, they can take Campral to calm and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Campral is one of the top drugs used when someone is withdrawing from alcohol because of its effectiveness in avoiding unwanted side effects and increasing patient compliance. It protects neurons from damage and death caused by the effects of alcohol abuse and benzodiazepine withdrawal. The drug has the ability to help patients refrain from drinking alcohol by reducing cravings and relapse rates, and increasing abstinence rates. It also protects cells in the body from damage caused by inadequate blood flow. Campral is believed to affect brain pathways that are involved in alcohol abuse by stabilizing neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain. Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid or GABA is a specific type of receptor in the brain. A GABA agonist is a synthetic medication that stimulates the GABA receptor in the brain, producing a calming, sedative effect. Campral is one type of GABA agonist that serves to relax the patient and reduce anxiety. Brain chemical imbalances caused by long-term alcohol abuse can be properly restored using the GABA agonist Campral. It is also used for those addicted to benzodiazepine (ex. Xanax, Klonopin). Recently, a Brazilian study found the drug to be effective in the treatment of tinnitus caused by benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Use of Campral in Alcoholism
Campral was approved by the FDA in 2004 for treatment in alcohol abuse and multiple studies have shown that those taking the drug have better success rates at long-term recovery. Studies have also revealed that Campral is most effective in treating someone who specifically has an abuse problem with alcohol only, and isn’t abusing multiple substances at one. Campral is prescribed in 333 milligram, time-released tablets that should be taken whole, never broken up or crushed. The drug is usually taken three times a day with or without food, depending on the treatment program the user’s physician has prescribed. It should be noted that while Campral helps with long-term withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, it does not relieve withdrawal symptoms that are present during the early detoxification process.
Campral has been used worldwide by more than 1.5 million patients in the treatment of alcohol dependence and abuse. Alcohol dependency and abuse is a serious problem with life-threatening consequences of disease and death. Alcoholism increases your risk for cancer, especially of the liver, throat, esophagus and larynx. It can also cause immune-system problems, cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage, abnormal fetal development during pregnancy and accidents resulting in physical injury, degradation and death. Approximately one-half of the American population ages 12 years and older consumes alcohol, and one-third of the population consumes enough alcohol to be considered at risk for alcohol dependence and abuse. There are on average 100,000 deaths annually caused by diseases and accidents that are alcohol related, highlighting the needs for alcohol treatment and drugs like Campral.
Campral is most effective when used in conjunction with a treatment program that includes counseling, behavior modification and support in the areas of medical or alcohol detoxification. AA or Alcoholics Anonymous is one such support group that helps recovering alcoholics. Although counseling and 12-step programs have traditionally been considered the primary treatments of alcohol abuse, with prescription drugs playing a secondary role, that attitude is changing based upon evidence of success with prescription drugs.
Campral Side Effects
Campral is a non-addictive drug most often used for up to one year in patients who have stopped drinking alcohol. Generally, the side effects of Campral are considered mild and include:
- Joint or muscle pain
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhea (most common side effect)
- Nausea or loss of appetite
In some cases, Campral can cause more moderate side effects in users. These can include:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Burning, pricking or tingling in the arms, hands, legs or feet
- Weight loss
- Irregular heartbeat
- Suicidal thoughts
- Infrequent passing of urine
- Chest pain