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Is Campral Effective?

Campral is the brand name of the medication acamprosate. Doctors use this medication to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). When combined with therapy and used as part of a treatment program, Campral is effective. But don’t expect to take Campral alone and consider your AUD handled.

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Acamprosate (Campral) Effectiveness for Alcohol Addiction 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Campral in 2004. Researchers told FDA officials that it worked by dampening glutamate activity deep within the brain.[1]

When people drink, they experience fewer signs of intoxication. Every sip becomes less reinforcing, making the next relapse less likely. 

In some studies, acamprosate significantly reduced drinking risks and increased the number of days people didn’t drink. People using Campral stayed sober longer than people using a placebo drug.[2]

But other studies haven’t found that acamprosate is better than a placebo.[3] Contradictory results like this suggest that Campral works best as part of a comprehensive treatment program for addiction. 

How Safe Is Campral for Alcohol Use Disorder?

Researchers say acamprosate is safe for alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment. People who use this drug for long periods don’t develop a tolerance for it or dependence on it. And it’s impossible to overdose on the drug.[3]

Some people experience side effects when they first start using Campral. But those symptoms tend to fade as the body becomes accustomed to the drug and how it works.[3]

Campral as Part of a Comprehensive Treatment Plan 

Overcoming an AUD means more than taking medications regularly. A treatment program can help you build new habits that support long-term recovery. With a solid foundation in how to resist relapse, you’ll be set up for success in recovery. 

A treatment program might offer you tools such as these:

  • Trigger identification, so you know what people, places, and things make you want to drink 
  • Relapse prevention skills, so you know what to do when you encounter those triggers
  • Relationship-building sessions, so you can repair the damage done by active addiction and build a strong support system
  • Mindfulness techniques, so you know how to calm your mind and body without drinking

When Campral is part of a program like this, your team ensures you take your medication on a set schedule. But as your skills grow and relapse risks lessen, you may stop taking the medication altogether. 

Where & How to Get Campral 

Acamprosate isn’t a controlled substance. Doctors don’t need a special license to prescribe it, and any pharmacy can fill it. Some people go to their family doctors for the medication.

Finding a comprehensive treatment program is different. Your doctor may refer you to a facility in your community that adds Campral to the treatment plan, or you could find an organization independently. 

Acamprosate vs. Naltrexone 

Campral is one medication option for AUD treatment, but it’s not the only one. Naltrexone is another FDA-approved solution that might be a better fit for some people. 

Naltrexone works by altering dopamine release when you drink. Sips of alcohol don’t make you intoxicated, so you’re less likely to consume excessively. And your next relapse may be less rewarding. In time, you might not experience alcohol cravings.[4]

Naltrexone comes in an injectable form, which offers protection for about a month.[5] You can’t skip pills to plan for a binge, and you can’t fill prescriptions and not take them. For people worried about sticking with treatment, naltrexone could be an attractive choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Campral 

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about Campral.

What is Campral?

Campral is the brand name of the generic drug acamprosate.

Is Campral FDA-approved?

Yes. Acamprosate is FDA-approved for alcoholism treatment.

Is Campral addictive?

No. Campral doesn’t cause addictions, and it’s impossible to abuse the drug.

How well does Campral work?

Some people feel fewer cravings for alcohol when they use Campral. And since it blocks alcohol’s action, it makes drinking less rewarding. When used as part of a comprehensive treatment program, it could be useful.

How does it feel to take Campral?

Some people experience nausea or diarrhea when they start taking Campral. But these side effects usually lessen with time.

What is the most effective treatment for alcohol dependence?

Combining medications and therapy is considered the best way to overcome an alcohol addiction. When this combination is used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program, success is more likely. You may also benefit from support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Updated November 7, 2023
Resources
  1. Kalk NJ, Lingford-Hughes AR. The clinical pharmacology of acamprosate. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014;77(2):315-323. doi:10.1111/bcp.12070
  2. Cayley W. Effectiveness of acamprosate in the treatment of alcohol dependence. American Family Physician. Published March 1, 2011. Accessed August 1, 2023.
  3. Acamprosate. Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practices. Published 2009. Accessed August 1, 2023.
  4. Avery J. Naltrexone and alcohol use. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2022;179(12):886-887.
  5. Sharma A, Kumar A, Bansal P, Bahetra M, Gill H, Kumar R. A comparative study on the safety and efficacy of naltrexone versus Baclofen versus Acamprosate in the management of alcohol dependence. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2020;62(6):650. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_201_19
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