What is Campral?
Acamprosate (calcium acetylhomotaurinate) is a medication used to maintain alcohol abstinence in people with alcohol dependence. Its brand name is Campral. It is commonly prescribed as part of Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) after undergoing medical detox treatment. It is used along with social support for alcoholics, solution-focused therapy, and counseling to help somebody who has quit drinking large amounts of alcohol (alcohol use disorder) for relapse prevention. It is frequently used to help people who are already in recovery control alcohol cravings.
Consuming alcohol for a long time changes the way the brain works. Acamprosate (Campral) works by helping the brains of individuals who have drunk large amounts of alcohol to work normally again. Campral works by helping to repair the damage alcohol causes to people’s brain chemistry. Alcohol is a depressant, It disrupts the neurochemicals that regulate feelings of anxiety. The longer a person consumes alcohol excessively, the worse this imbalance becomes, which is one primary reason why people crave alcohol. Campral restores this chemical balance, and can therefore reduce the craving to drink. It is largely ineffective against cravings if you are still drinking.
It is not advisable to take Acamprosate (Campral) if you suffer from kidney issues or while pregnant. This medication alone is not enough to treat alcoholism, and it should be coupled with therapy and potentially other prescription medications. Acamprosate is most typically prescribed for a period of one year, although many users take it for shorter or longer periods of time. Acamprosate is often taken in combination with other alcohol use disorder medications such as Naltrexone and Disulfiram. Acamprosate is available as an oral tablet that should be taken whole and not chewed or crushed. It should be prescribed only after the person has stopped alcohol use and gone through initial medical detox.
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How Long Does Campral Take to Work?
Campral is gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, agonist. The drug stimulates GABA receptors, inducing a sense of calm and reducing anxiety levels. It is beneficial for people struggling with alcohol addiction as it reduces cravings. When a person is addicted to alcohol, their brain changes chemically. Campral helps to stabilize the chemistry of the brain that was disrupted by ongoing alcohol abuse.
Campral is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the paracellular route in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, after oral administration. The absolute bioavailability of Campral after oral administration is about 11%. Steady Campral levels in plasma are reached within 5 days of regular dosing, while peak plasma concentrations average 350 ng/mL and occur within 3-8 hours after the administered dose. The terminal half-life of a regular dose of Campral (2 x 333mg) ranges anywhere from 20 up to 33 hours.
Frequently prescribed in 333-milligram tablets, This medication is typically taken three times daily. A lower dose may be effective in some patients. Depending on the dosage, doctors may recommend taking the medication with food. Although dosing may be done without regard to meals, dosing with meals was employed during clinical trials and is suggested in those patients who regularly eat three meals daily. Campral 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, but it could increase the Campral side effects.
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Campral Side Effects
Like most medications, Campral can cause side effects, but they are usually mild and subside the longer treatment continues. It is this comparative lack of side effects that makes the drug a more popular choice than alternatives. This is especially the case when it comes to liver-related side effects. The most common side-effects are gastrointestinal symptoms (such as mild diarrhea or loose bowel movements). You should tell your doctor if you encounter these or any other unexpected effects. If you have kidney problems you should discuss this with your doctor to see if this medication can be used. Sometimes a lower dose of acamprosate can be used.
However, there are a number of side effects, some of which are possibly very serious.
- Hypersensitivity to the drug
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Muscle weakness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Irregular heartbeat
- Vision problems
- Hearing changes
- Reduced urination
- Potential fetal risk
- Severe renal impairment
- Extreme feelings of sadness/emptiness
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of strength
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How Long Do Campral Side Effects Last?
Campral side effects generally go away after a couple of weeks of treatment. Diarrhea may persist after the first weeks of using the medication. Some people have exhibited suicidal ideation with the use of acamprosate. It is a rare side effect, but a serious one. Other serious side effects include those that indicate a potential allergy, such as a rash or tingling in the extremities.
It is extremely difficult to overdose on the drug, and acamprosate is not broken down by digestion, so it is considered to be very safe for people with liver problems – a fact that distinguishes it from other alcoholism treatment medicines like naltrexone or disulfiram. However, acamprosate can be dangerous for those with kidney problems, especially if the kidneys are already severely compromised. In that case, Campral should not be prescribed.
Risks of Addiction
There is no evidence that Campral is addictive. Not only is Campral a non-addictive substance, but it is also actually a fairly safe medication and appears to have no potential for abuse. Tolerance or dependence on Campral has not been observed even in patients who were taking the medication for a longer time as a part of alcohol dependence treatment.
Campral is a non-addictive drug most often used for up to one year in patients who have stopped drinking alcohol. Campral is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and so far multiple studies have established a good safety profile for the medication. The way Campral works in the brain is by restoring the chemical imbalance caused by long-term alcohol use. This helps to reduce the cravings and the need for alcohol and increases your chance of staying sober and reaching a successful recovery.
What Should I Avoid While Taking Campral?
Drinking alcohol while taking Campral will not make you feel sick. However, you are advised not to drink alcohol at all during your treatment with Campral. Even if you only drink a little alcohol, you run the risk of making your treatment fail. Campral should not be taken by anyone who:
- Is allergic to Campral or to any of the ingredients of this medication
- Is breast-feeding. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking acamprosate, call your doctor.
- Has severe kidney function impairment. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had depression or kidney disease.
You should know that Campral may affect your thinking, ability to make decisions, and coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
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MAT for Alcohol Treatment
Medicated assisted treatment for alcohol uses medications in combination with therapy, to help an individual end a substance use disorder. Medication-Assisted Treatment for alcohol addiction is effective and available. Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder relies on four medications to help treat alcohol addiction and dependence. Which type of Medication Assisted Treatment for alcohol addiction is right for you depends on the severity of your addiction and your unique needs.
- Campral (Acamprosate): Acamprosate was approved by the FDA in 2004 for treating alcohol dependence. After detox is complete and the individual is abstinent, acamprosate is administered to help normalize the glutamate and GABA systems to reduce long-term symptoms of withdrawal, which often include insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness. In addition, treating these symptoms is effective in helping to reduce the risk of relapse.
- Disulfiram: Disulfiram was approved by the FDA in 1951 to help keep people off alcohol once detox is complete. This Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol works by inhibiting the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, responsible for metabolizing acetaldehyde, a toxic product of alcohol metabolism. When you drink alcohol while taking disulfiram, acetaldehyde builds up in the body and causes a severe physical reaction, including nausea, vomiting, headache, and weakness. This medication doesn’t affect cravings or help to normalize brain function. Instead, its effectiveness lies in making an individual reluctant to use alcohol for fear of the adverse effects.
- Topiramate: This Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol decreases craving for alcohol and Repairs chemical imbalances in systems of the brain responsible for excitation and reward
- Topiramate: Intramuscular extended-release Naltrexone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both opioid use disorder/opioid addiction treatment and alcohol use disorder/alcoholism treatment as part of the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option. Vivitrol is the brand name of Naltrexone. Vivitrol shot can be used to help people maintain abstinence while recovering from alcohol or heroin addiction. While naltrexone hydrochloride is for both daily and once-a-month dosages, Vivitrol is injected once a month.
Alcohol Abuse Treatment Options
There is a strong link between mental health and alcohol abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. To determine the most effective ways to alcohol addiction, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.
Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Psychotherapy for Depression and Anxiety
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
Individual and Group Counseling
Addiction and mental health counseling occur in both individual and group settings. One-on-one treatment sessions may address unresolved trauma, unconscious conflicts, and specific struggles, while group sessions often involve training in life skills, stress management, conflict resolution, and social connections. Group counseling also gives clients the chance to share their thoughts and experiences to develop social support, which is essential for lasting recovery. If you or someone you know is experiencing the Campral side effects or has questions about the difference between Campral vs Naltrexone, We Level Up has addiction specialists that are standing by to help.
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 NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604028.html
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/pharmacotherapies/alcohol
  NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64035/
 FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/021431s013lbl.pdf
 Acamprosate Side Effects, Benefits, Safety, and Proper Use – We Level Up NJ