HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

What Is Campral?

Campral is a drug which is used to reduce cravings for alcohol. The generic name for Campral is acamprosate. Campral has been demonstrated effective in helping people who are highly motivated to abstain from alcohol. The exact mechanism by which campral works is unknown but it is hypothesized that Campral affects the glutamate receptor.

20 studies of Campral which were conducted in Europe all showed Campral to be significantly more effective than a placebo in helping subjects to abstain from alcohol. However, the two large scale studies of Campral which were conducted in the United States did not show Campral to be significantly more effective than placebo. Apparently the discrepancy between the European and the American studies is due to subject selection--the subjects in the European trials were highly motivated to abstain whereas the subjects in the American trials were not.

A post hoc reanalysis of data from one of the American studies showed that when the subjects of the study were divided into a motivated group vs. an unmotivated group, then the subjects in the motivated group who received Campral did significantly better than the motivated subjects who received placebo.

It is unknown if Campral is helpful to subjects with a moderate drinking goal.

Side effects of Campral can include cognitive impairment, drowsiness, mood changes, diarrhea, and nausea. In clinical trials 8% of subjects receiving campral discontinued because of an adverse reaction as compared to 6% of those receiving placebo.

Please also visit our web pages:
Medications for Abstinence or Moderate Drinking
The Efficacy of Antabuse, Campral, and Naltrexone in Treating Alcohol Use Disorders


Anton RF et al. (2006). Combined pharmacotherapies and behavioral interventions for alcohol dependence: the COMBINE study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. May 3;295(17):2003-17.
PubMed Abstract
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Garbutt JC (2009). The state of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Jan;36(1):S15-23.
PubMed Abstract

Mason, B. J., Goodman, A. M., Chabac, S., & Lehert, P. (2006). Effect of oral acamprosate on abstinence in patients with alcohol dependence in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: The role of patient motivation. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 40, 383−393.
PubMed Abstract

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