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Side Effects of Using Campral

Campral is prescribed for the management of alcohol use disorder. While it can effectively help someone avoid drinking alcohol, it may produce side effects that affect your mind, body, and behavior. 

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Breaking Down the Side Effects of Campral 

Campral, the brand-name version of the generic drug acamprosate, is prescribed for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. While it does not treat withdrawal symptoms, it does help to manage cravings for alcohol and thus helps people abstain from drinking. It can first be used once the person is no longer drinking.[1]

This chart breaks down some of the common side effects of Campral:[1-3]

Physical Side EffectsAllergic reactions, chest pain, trouble urinating, diarrhea, nausea, and sweating 
Mental Side EffectsAnxiety, depression, nervousness, and suicidal thoughts
Behavioral Side EffectsDifficulty sleeping and loss of appetite
Sexual Side EffectsDisturbance in sexual arousal and erectile dysfunction 

Physical Side Effects

Side effects of Campral are typically mild and should resolve on their own. These include stomach pains, diarrhea, and nausea.[1] 

People with a history of kidney disease or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should inform their doctor before starting Campral to reduce the chance of serious side effects. Likewise, if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor. [1]

Psychological Side Effects

People with a history of depression or suicidal thoughts should disclose this information to their doctor before taking Campral. The medication may cause psychological effects, such as anxiety and nervousness, as well as depression or suicidal thoughts. 

People with a history of mental health issues are at an increased risk for these side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if your begin to notice signs of depression while taking Campral.[2]

Behavioral Side Effects 

Campral may cause difficulty sleeping and a loss of appetite. Conversely, it can cause increased appetite and weight gain. These side effects should be monitored closely. If they do not resolve or they become more severe, talk to your doctor about how to proceed.[1] 

An infrequent side effect of Campral is hostility, in which people feel anger toward others and wish to inflict harm. Someone taking Campral may also become apathetic and lack motivation.[3]

Sexual Side Effects

A possible side effect of taking Campral is decreased libido. Though it is one of the less common side effects, some people taking the medication experience a disturbance in their regular sexual arousal. Both men and women can develop sexual side effects to Campral, though in slightly different ways.[3]

Side Effects for Females

In women, sexual side effects of Campral can include female sexual arousal disorder. This can include difficulty attaining or maintaining arousal and experiencing an inadequate physical response to sexual excitement.[3]

Side Effects for Males 

Men taking Campral are at risk of having a lowered sexual drive. Erectile dysfunction may also occur in men taking Campral. In such instances, men have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection during sexual activity.[3]

What Are the Short vs. Long Term Effects of Taking Campral?

This chart breaks down how Campral’s side effects fall in term of duration:[1-3]

Short-Term Side EffectsReduced urge to drink alcohol, upset stomach, diarrhea, headache and gas
Long-Term Side EffectsRecovery from an alcohol use disorder, depression, suicidal thoughts, and weight gain

Short-Term Effects

The primary short-term effect of Campral is a reduced urge to drink alcohol. While on Campral, cravings for alcohol are minimized, though this effect only lasts as long as you have the medication in your system. People who have already withdrawn from alcohol and are ready to stop drinking can take Campral to reduce their urge to return to alcohol use.[4]

Some of the short-term side effects of taking Campral can include upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, headache, and gas. In most cases, these side effects resolve on their own and people primarily experience the benefit of not craving alcohol. 

Long-Term Effects

The long-term goal and effect of taking Campral is sustained recovery from an alcohol use disorder. Combining Campral with counseling and behavioral support is the best way to ensure its long-term effectiveness.[5] 

Although Campral is considered safe to take for long-term management of alcohol use disorder, side effects such as weight gain and depression may occur and may not resolve on their own. Such side effects should be discussed with a doctor, so an appropriate care plan can be established.[4] In some instances, an alternative medication may be used if Campral’s side effects are too severe.[6]

Updated April 2, 2024
  1. Witkiewitz K, Saville, Hamreus. Acamprosate for treatment of alcohol dependence: mechanisms, efficacy, and clinical utility. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 2012;8:45.
  2. Acamprosate. National Library of Medicine. Published May 2016. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  3. Yahn SL, Watterson LR, Olive MF. Safety and Efficacy of Acamprosate for the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. 2013;7:1-12.
  4. Acamprosate. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Published January 2023. Accessed March 18, 2024.
  5. Arms L, Johl H, DeMartini J. Improving the utilisation of medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder at discharge. BMJ Open Quality. 2022;11(4):e001899.
  6. Mason B. Alcohol Use Disorder: The Role of Medication in Recovery. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 2021;41(1).
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