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Does Campral help with alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal?

Campral works by helping the brain work normally again after a period of regular, chronic, or heavy drinking. However, Campral does not prevent the withdrawal symptoms that people may experience when they stop drinking alcohol.

Here, you’ll learn more about the use of Campral in the treatment of alcohol use disorders. Then, if you still have a question(s) that has not been covered, please leave a comment or question at the bottom of the page. We do our best to respond to all legitimate questions personally and promptly.

What is alcoholism / alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is a series of predictable symptoms that indicate overactivity of the autonomic nervous system. When you stop drinking after a period of alcohol dependence, the brain and body need to time to get back into balance. The brain overcompensates for the depressant effect of alcohol by “speeding up”… and in the days after you stop drinking, the symptoms which occur are no longer masked/countered by alcohol. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, which is why it’s so important to SEEK MEDICAL SUPERVISION during alcohol withdrawal.

The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically appear between 6 and 48 hours after heavy alcohol consumption decreases. Initial symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • headache
  • heightened sensitivity to light and sound
  • irritability
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweating
  • tremor(s)…

…and, in more serious cases, transient hallucinations or seizure. These initial symptoms of alcohol usually withdrawal intensify and then diminish over 24 to 48 hours. However, if serious conditions occur, medical intervention can usually get them under control effectively.

Appropriate treatment of alcohol withdrawal aims to treat discomfort, prevent the development of more serious symptoms, and delay cumulative effects that might worsen future alcohol withdrawal. Hospital admission provides the safest setting for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal, although many people with mild to moderate symptoms can be treated successfully on an outpatient basis.

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How can Campral help with alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal?

Campral is used along with counseling and social support to help people who have stopped drinking large amounts of alcohol to avoid drinking again. How does Campral work to help you with alcohol problems? Drinking alcohol for a long time changes the way the brain works. Campral works by helping people who have drunk large amounts of alcohol to have normal brain function. It is thought that the main ingredient in Campral – acamprosate – helps modulate and normalize brain activity, particularly in the glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter systems. Although this mechanism of action has not been clearly established, experts think that Campral works to create brain equilibrium by reducing symptoms of post-acute (protracted) withdrawal such as:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • restlessness

Note here that Campral has received FDA approval for post-withdrawal maintenance of alcohol abstinence only. It is not used to treat alcohol withdrawal. In fact, Campral does not prevent the withdrawal symptoms that people may experience when they stop drinking alcohol. ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL SUPERVISION during alcohol withdrawal and detox.

Campral prescription for alcoholism treatment

You can get a prescription for Campral with your family doctor or through a medical addiction treatment specialist (psychiatrist, certified specialist MD, etc.). Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Generally, the recommended dosage of Campral is two 333 mg tablets three times a day, with or without food. Treatment with should be initiated as soon as possible after alcohol withdrawal and should be maintained even if you relapse.

Further, Campral has not been shown to work in people who have not stopped drinking alcohol or in people who drink large amounts of alcohol and also overuse or abuse other substances such as street drugs or prescription medications. Finally, Campral helps to prevent you from drinking alcohol only as long as you are taking it. The recommended manufacturer duration of treatment is one year, although clinical studies have shown Campral effective over the course of as little as 3-12 months.

Campral can help alcoholism, or it may not

You can use Campral to stay sober as soon as you finish alcohol withdrawal. It can support sobriety, but cannot be considered a “magic pill” that will fix everything. Instead, Campral is best used when supported by psychotherapy and behavioral therapy that address underlying psycho-emotional issues which cause drinking.

If you’re interested in trying the medication and willing/able to take it regularly as prescribed…Campral may work for you. However, keep in mind that motivation is an important factor in alcoholism treatment. Being motivated and committed to total abstinence at the start of treatment brings lower relapse risk. So, start therapy as soon as possible after abstinence has been established and keep using Campral with close doctor supervision for best results.

Who SHOULDN’T use Campral in alcohol treatment?

1.  Drivers or operators of heavy machinery. Any psychoactive drug may impair judgement, thinking, or motor skills. Patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain that Campral therapy does not affect their ability to engage in such activities.

2.  Women who are pregnant, breast feeding, or intend to become pregnant. Patients should be advised to notify their physician if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during therapy or are breast-feeding.

3.  Anyone with unrealistic expectations. Campral has been shown to help maintain abstinence only when used as a part of a treatment program that includes counseling and support.

Campral help with alcoholism questions

If you have further questions to ask or if you’d like to leave a comment, please share your post in the comments section below. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NIH: Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal
FDA: Campral
MedlinePlus: Acamprosate
SAMHSA: Acamprosate: A new medication for alcohol use disorders
PBM: Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram

Photo credit: NIH Pillbox

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