In recent years, medical researchers have continued to explore new drugs that can be used in the fight against addiction. Acamprosate, sold as Campral, is one of the most recent drugs to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Acamprosate was initially used to treat alcoholism in Europe in the 1980s; in 2004, it became the third drug to be approved for this purpose in the US. Since then, this medication has become widely accepted as an effective, non-addictive anti-alcoholism drug.
Is Acamprosate a Cure for Alcoholism?
Acamprosate can’t cure the disease of alcoholism, but the medication has proven useful in helping alcoholics maintain their sobriety when it’s taken as part of an integrated rehab program. Unlike Antabuse, which causes an adverse reaction to alcohol, acamprosate does not cause any violent side effects if you drink while taking the medication. However, acamprosate can make drinking a less rewarding experience by blocking the pleasurable feelings you get from alcohol. It can also help you stay focused on your rehab goals by taking the edge off your cravings.
Campral is considered to be relatively safe, with few serious side effects. The medication is non-addictive, and the potential for abuse and overdose is extremely low. According to the National Library of Medicine, acamprosate may be a good addition to your recovery program if you meet the following criteria:
- You’re committed to taking the medication as prescribed.
- You don’t have kidney problems.
- You don’t have a history of depression or suicidal behavior.
- You aren’t pregnant or trying to have a baby.
- You have other sources of support, like a rehab program, a 12-step group or an addiction therapist.
Highly motivated individuals who truly want to recover from alcoholism are most likely to be successful with acamprosate therapy. The more moral support you have from rehab professionals, peers and family members, the greater your chances of benefiting from a medication like acamprosate.
Usage and Side Effects
Although acamprosate is considered to be a generally safe drug, it should be used only with medical supervision. The medication is taken by mouth as a tablet, usually three times a day. Most people who take Campral tolerate the medication well, but if you experience the following side effects, your doctor may adjust your dose:
- Problems with appetite
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Itchy skin
In rare cases, people who take acamprosate experience more severe side effects, including extreme thirst, weakness and fatigue, a burning sensation in the skin or a skin rash. When you’re taking acamprosate, it’s important to let your doctor know about any unusual reactions that you experience while you’re on the drug.
Advantages of Acamprosate
Acamprosate offers a lot of advantages over other anti-addiction medications. Your chances of experiencing life-threatening side effects while you’re taking Campral are very low. The drug makes it easier to stick with your rehab program by reducing your desire to drink. It also helps you recover from alcoholism by restoring healthy brain function.
Chronic alcoholism can change the way your brain works by affecting its production of neurotransmitters, chemicals that influence your moods and emotions. In people who’ve been drinking heavily for a long time, acamprosate helps to reverse the effects of alcohol on the brain. According to CNS Drugs, acamprosate may be especially useful for treating alcoholism in patients who suffer from liver problems. Acamprosate can be taken in combination with other anti-addiction medications, like disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReVia) to maximize your potential for recovery.
Taking Acamprosate in Rehab
When you enroll in an alcohol rehab program, you’ll be given a number of powerful tools to help you recover from this chronic disease. Medication is only one of the resources you’ll have at your disposal. Acamprosate may make it easier for you to maintain your commitment to sobriety, but it can’t get you sober or keep you abstinent.
Taking medication several times a day requires a certain level of commitment. If you’re actively drinking or you’re not sure whether you’re ready to get help, you’re probably not ready for medication therapy. On the other hand, if you’re dedicated to making profound, positive changes in your life, you may be a good candidate for acamprosate.
The healing atmosphere here at Axis makes our facilities the ideal place to start your journey to sobriety. We give you a number of valuable recovery resources to choose from, including counseling services, 12-step support groups, holistic therapies and medication therapy. Call us to learn more about how our comprehensive rehab programs can help you create a positive, meaningful future.