The effect of alcohol
and acamprosate ("CampralĘ) on the brain
exposure to alcohol increases the actions of GABA on the GABA receptors
and decreases those of excitatory amino acids such as glutamate on NMDA
receptors. The result is that the electrical impulses triggered in the
neurones are reduced, and activity in the brain and the nerves is
depressed. With long term exposure, the body adapts by decreasing the
activity of the GABA-ergic system and increasing the activity of the
alcohol intake ceases, the depressant effect disappears, however, the
neurones remain hyperexcitable. It takes many months for the brain to
readapt and during this time alcohol withdrawal symptoms are
experienced. Acamprosate acts to restore the GABA-ergic and glutamate
neurone activity to 'normal' levels.
does not act like disulfram (antabuse), it does not block the rewarding
effects of alcohol (like naltrexone), it is not a substitute for
alcohol (like a tranquilliser or methadone in the case of heroin
dependence), nor does it alter the effects of alcohol.
Physical symptoms: Acamprosate
can protect against the CNS effects induced by alcohol withdrawal, such
as shaking, cerebellar tremors, nervous twitches, and convulsions.
Acamprosate has no effects on the cardiovascular, haemodynamic,
respiratory, gastrointestinal or renal systems.
Absorption: After a single dose the maximum concentration
is reached in 5 hours. At recommended dose (two 333mg tabs three times
per day) steady state (or blood concentration levels) is reached at the
end of 7 days. After this is achieved, the half life of Campral is 20.8
hours. Acamprosate is mainly eliminated unchanged in the urine, it is
When should I start
taking Campral? It's
recommended that patients should stop drinking for between 2-7 days
before commencing treatment.
How long do the tablets
take to work? Steady blood
concentrations are reached after 7 days.
What are the side
effects? Diarrhoea is the
most common, followed by nausea, stomach pains, and an allergic skin
reaction. Most side effects remit after a few weeks of treatment.
What will I feel taking
these tablets? Unless you
experience any of the side effects, you may not notice anything.
Campral will not make you feel 'high' or sedated.
Will I have any cravings
while taking Campral?
Yes, Campral is not a magic
tablet. It will help take the edge off the cravings and support your
hard work in achieving abstinence.
What happens if I drink
whilst taking Campral?
Nothing. Campral does not alter the effects of alcohol. It is important
to keep taking Campral even on days when you have had a drink. As
Campral is quickly eliminated by the body, all doses (two tablets three
times a day) need to be taken to maintain optimal blood concentration
Is Campral addictive? You can stop taking Campral at any time
without feeling symptoms of withdrawal from Campral. It is not habit
What if I miss a dose? If you miss a dose, do not take extra tablets
to make up for it. Take the next dose at the usual time.
Do I have to take
Campral with food? It is best to take Campral with food, as this
can help any stomach upset that you might experience.
Can I take other
medications if needed?
There are no known interactions with other medications. If necessary,
Campral can be used with antidepressants, tranquillisers or disulfram.
Taking Campral will not interfere with medication taken for long term
illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure or peptic ulcers.
Do I have to take Campral
for the rest of my life?
No, the standard course
of treatment is 6 months.