Acamprosate, sold under the brand name Campral, is a medicine used for the medication-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD). As opposed to the various other medications used for AUD, acamprosate proposes a relatively new way to tackle the disease of alcohol addiction.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Despite its widespread normalization in cultures across the globe, alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances, and it is also one of the most harmful. Many of us drink alcohol regularly, and many know or have met someone who has a serious alcohol addiction. A study showed that in 2019, 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they engaged in heavy binge drinking. In the same year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and older had alcohol use disorder (AUD). Whether having a drink with friends, with co-workers at a social function, or on a date, alcohol is one of the few drugs that are commonplace amongst almost everyone. It is proven that the effects of alcohol consumption at any “dosage” are harmful; however, drinking socially occasionally is not considered AUD. Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism, is defined by a hindered ability to quit or control alcohol use, especially when social, financial and health consequences are present in one’s life.
The Effects Of Alcohol
The negative effects of AUD go far beyond regrettable decisions and bad hangovers. Alcohol is extremely toxic to the brain and body. Other commonly abused substances, such as opioids, attach to receptors in certain cells in the body (though still incredibly harmful). However, alcohol can enter any cell, as it is both water-soluble and fat-soluble. Ethanol, the form of alcohol humans consume, causes significant stress and damage to cells. Ethanol is toxic to the body upon immediate consumption and must be converted into something else once in the body. Once ingested, ethanol is converted into acetaldehyde, an even more toxic substance, as well as adenosine triphosphate, a nutrient-empty calorie. Acetaldehyde is a chemical that indiscriminately kills cells, and it is also what causes you to feel drunk as it disrupts neural networks in the brain.
What Does Campral/Acamprosate Do?
As mentioned, acamprosate, sold as Campral, proposes a method of medication-assisted treatment for alcoholism that is dissimilar to other pharmacotherapies of the same purpose. Acamprosate is a prototypical neuromodulatory approach, which serves to stabilize neural networks that are disrupted upon alcohol consumption. Acamprosate serves to neutralize brain activity specific to the glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission systems. This reduces the neurochemical and physiological activity that occurs during withdrawal, making maintenance of recovery significantly easier and more feasible.
Acamprosate has been studied extensively and boasts a high rate of efficacy. It is also proven to be quite safe and with few side effects (when taken during withdrawal), relative to other medicines used for similar purposes. Hence, acamprosate is an FDA-approved drug for the medication-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder.
We Can Help You Overcome
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with alcohol addiction or dependence, we can help. We have the means and motivation to help one overcome addiction. If acamprosate is a viable option, we will create a medication-assisted treatment plan that suits your needs.