Campral for Cravings to Drink

Sober Living by the Sea has long been on the cutting edge of treatment since 1986 when we opened our alcohol rehab centers here in Southern California. The important thing to remember about any of our recommended pharmaceutical medications is that there is no “cure” for addiction and any medication that is prescribed to aid in the recovery process will be best used in conjunction with a recovery program.

Campral (Acamprosate Calcium) is a relatively new medication (about 4 years old) that is approved by the FDA to be prescribed for the reduction of cravings. The two other FDA approved medications are Naltrexone (commercially mareketed as Revia) and Disulfuram (commercially marketed as Antabuse).

Campral is taken orally by ingesting 333mg time release tablets 2 to 3 times daily.

The fact that Campral is so new to the treatment world also indicates that there isn’t as much research available on what it does and why it works. The fact is that the main studies that are being relied upon show that Campral reduces the relapse rate for users by 2% to 20% (over others in the test group who are given a placebo).

The Brain Science Behind using Campral for Recovery

Campral is a brain neuro-receptor modulator that works at the GABA receptor. The GABA receptors are the so called pleasure “brakes” that inhibit the pleasure received when an alcoholic drinks liquor. Campral increases the “brakes” on the pleasure the alcoholic experiences when drinking, therefore reducing the pleasure of drinking and reduces the likelihood of an ensuing relapse.

Who is Campral a good medication for?

Campral is appropriate for the relapse prone individual who genuinely wants to be sober but has a hard time doing so. Campral and the other drugs like Antabuse (disulfuram) and Revia (naltrexone) are worth taking if an addictions professional recommends trying the medication. Campral will most likely not inhibit drinking in the individual who does not sincerely wish to be sober.

There is a cost involved for obtaining medication like Campral and of course there is the inconvenience of having to remember to take the medication as well. Of course, there are always side effects for medications like Campral and the others. Campral’s common side effects include:

  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • insomnia

And Campral can also have severe side effects like:

  • Severe allergic reactions
  • rash
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • tightness in the chest
  • swelling in the facial areas
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior changes
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Obviously, if you or someone you care about is taking Campral and is experiencing any of these severe side effects, seek medical attention immediately.

Reminder: Campral is a Complement to a Comprehensive Treatment Program

Even the manufacturer of Campral states that all studies that have shown the efficacy of Campral have also integrated an additional program of recovery (like Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step support group). We cannot stress this enough: Campral is not a substitute for a recovery program but a potential beneficial addition to a strong recovery program.

As we continue our discussion of the pharmaceutical medication side of the addiction recovery process, we refer to one of our favorite passages from Alcoholic’s Anonymous’ “More About Alcoholism:

“…Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree that there is not such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.”

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