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Acamprosate, marketed under the brand name Campral®, is a drug used to treat alcohol dependence. Unlike other medications that are taken to help an alcoholic stop drinking, Campral® is prescribed once an individual has recently achieved sobriety. When taken as part of a treatment plan that includes counseling, this medication helps a person maintain sobriety by reducing the physical and emotional disturbances that can manifest in the initial stages of alcohol abstinence.
Although Campral® has been available in Europe for years, it was only approved by the American Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time will change a person’s chemical balance. Medical researchers are not sure precisely how the drug works, but it is thought that this medication helps the brain function normally again.
Acamprosate is typically available in the form of a delayed release tablet taken orally three times a day with food. Each tablet must be swallowed whole rather than crushed, chewed, or split. Though usually prescribed for up to a year, patients should continue taking acamprosate even if they no longer feel the urge to drink. Only a medical professional can determine when it is reasonable to discontinue Campral®. This drug is not addictive.
The principal benefit of Campral® is that it relieves the physical and emotional discomfort that many people feel just after quitting drinking alcohol. Sweating and sleep disturbances were reduced by this medication. Many patients also report a reduced feeling of anxiety. Acamprosate works best when incorporated into an existing therapy and support plan.
There are both physical and mental side effects associated with this drug, though most are mild and do not last long. Physical side effects can include gastrointestinal problems, weakness, and rash. Dizziness and burning hands and feet have also been reported in some patients.
Some individuals may experience more serious side effects, such as an acute allergic reaction. Suicidal thoughts and depression are also possible side effects of Campral®. Those who experience a change in mood or impaired thinking or reactions while taking this medication should notify a medical professional as soon as possible.
People who suffer from kidney disease should not take Campral® unless directed to do so by a medical professional. A doctor will likely reduce the dosage for patients with kidney problems. Pregnant women should also consult with their doctors prior to taking this drug because it is not known whether it is harmful to unborn children.
This medication will not help an alcoholic stop drinking. Additionally, it will not lessen the withdrawal symptoms common during detoxification. Individuals who have already stopped drinking but who may need some assistance to maintain sobriety should consult with a medical professional about Campral®.