Baclofen

Baclofen: The Potential for Abuse and Addiction (A Treatment Guide)

Baclofen has become increasingly popular as a treatment for alcoholism. This drug interacts with gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) receptors in the brain and can help reduce the severity of alcohol cravings. 

However, while Baclofen can be useful for treating alcoholism, there is a growing concern over whether or not this drug has the potential to become addictive. It is possible that using this drug does more harm than good.

What Is Baclofen?

Baclofen is a prescription drug that is typically used to treat multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal diseases, and spinal injuries. It can also curb cravings for alcohol.

Some of the most commonly reported side effects of this drug include:

  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Drowsiness or excessive sleepiness
  • Confusion or inability to comprehend situations 

While Baclofen is not a narcotic drug, reports have shown that it does change a person’s behavior and mood the way narcotics might. Studies have also shown that the structure of this drug links to GABA, which is why some users report feelings of euphoria after consuming more of the medication than was advised by a medical professional.  

How Does This Drug Affect the Body?

Studies have not fully uncovered exactly how Baclofen behaves in the body. However, they do reveal that GABA acts as a depressant in the body. It influences how your brain and central nervous system interact as well as how messages are sent from one to the other. GABA is also involved in regulating communication between brain cells. 

What Are the Brand Names of Baclofen?

The top three Baclofen brand names are Gablofen, Lioresal, and Kemstro. However, it is worth noting that there are also generic, budget-friendly Baclofen brands available on the market. 

Kemstro is available in 10 mg and 20 mg oral doses while Lioresal is available in both oral and intrathecal prescriptions. Gablofen is only available as an intrathecal prescription, with the lowest dose at 50 mg and the highest dose at 2000 mcg.

How Does It Help With Alcoholism?  

Research has shown that using Baclofen to treat patients with alcoholism can help to reduce cravings. Further evidence shows that, due to its mood-elevating properties, using this drug to address various forms of addiction may decrease the chances of relapse

Is It Addictive?

While Baclofen is not a narcotic, some studies have shown that some alcohol-dependent patients do misuse it. 

Researchers believe that this drug may have a high potential for abuse because of its mood-boosting properties

What Are the Side Effects of Baclofen Abuse? 

Prolonged abuse may lead to the following health risks:

  • Confusion
  • Severe nausea 
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Hypertension or hypotension

In the instance of an overdose, a person may experience:

  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing

Can Baclofen Addiction Be Treated?

While Baclofen is used in addiction treatment, it’s possible for a person to develop an addiction to it if he or she uses it for a prolonged period of time. 

Any form of addiction should be treated alongside a medical professional. However, even under medical supervision, it is possible to develop Baclofen Withdraw Syndrome (BWS) when tapering off of the drug.

Baclofen withdrawal is challenging, especially since some of the symptoms are very similar to that of an overdose.

Some symptoms of BWS include:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Delirium
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in mood
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

What Are Some Addiction Treatment Options?

If you’re struggling with Baclofen addiction, recovery is possible. Seeking treatment will not only help you detox from the drug safely but also help you to address the sources of your addiction and work on relapse prevention. 

Some of the different treatment options include:

Medical Detox 

During medical detox, you will be tapered off of Baclofen. Your body will re-adjust to not having any drugs in its system. In other words, your body will stabilize so that you can work towards your next treatment. 

Inpatient Treatment

During inpatient treatment, you will live at the treatment facility, where you will receive medical assistance as you detox. Additional treatment options such as group therapy, individual therapy, and counseling sessions are available through inpatient care. 

Outpatient Treatment 

This form of treatment allows you to live at home and be able to attend school or work during rehab. The success of outpatient treatment depends heavily on group therapy and counseling sessions to uncover the underlying reasons for your addiction.

Support Groups

Also known as a 12-step program, support groups are a great way to build social support while working towards fighting your addiction. Many treatment facilities offer 12-step programs. However, they are also available outside of rehab centers.

Additional Questions?

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment option for addiction. One type of treatment may work better for one person than another.

Still, with the right medical treatment and help, conquering your Baclofen addiction and living a sober life is entirely possible. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with Baclofen addiction, call us for a quick and confidential assessment. We can help find treatment for you or your loved one. 

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.