Baclofen Addiction & Abuse

Baclofen is a generic medication used to treat spasticity, which refers to uncontrolled muscle spasms or tension. Baclofen is also sold under the brand name Lioresal. Baclofen is a derivative of GABA, which is a brain neurotransmitter. Baclofen is believed to work by activating GABA receptors in the brain, and thus, calming activity that can lead to spasticity. Baclofen works in a similar way to the drug phenibut. Both of these drugs affect the same receptors and have many of the same effects. Baclofen is believed to block certain reflexes so that excitatory transmitters can’t be released. Baclofen was originally used to treat epilepsy but it didn’t work well for that purpose. Baclofen can be given to patients as a cream that’s put on the skin or it can be taken orally. Sometimes baclofen is administered directly into spinal fluid with a pump that’s placed under the skin.
Baclofen Addiction/Abuse
Baclofen is a central nervous system depressant. It’s also a skeletal muscle relaxant. When someone uses baclofen, it calms activity in the brain and spinal cord nerves so that there are fewer and less severe muscle spasms. Baclofen is primarily used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis or disease of the spinal cord. Baclofen can be used to treat people with spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy as well. Baclofen is not recommended for use in people with Parkinson’s disease or stroke. Some of the side effects of baclofen include insomnia, drowsiness, feeling tired, dizzy or weak, headache, nausea or constipation.

Baclofen has been gaining a lot of attention in its experimental use in treating addiction. Some researchers believe baclofen could be helpful in addiction treatment because of the links between the GABA receptors and alcohol use. While it’s still unclear how baclofen may be helpful in reducing alcohol cravings, there are theories that it could interact with and activate the same receptors as alcohol, thereby reducing the need to drink. It is possible the brain perceives baclofen as a substitution for alcohol; however, research still needs to be conducted on the topic. Despite the promising capacity of baclofen to treat alcohol addiction and dependence, this is still an off-label use for baclofen which is not approved by the FDA.

While there are therapeutic benefits associated with baclofen, there are risks as well. There are common side effects, such as drowsiness. Baclofen abuse and addiction are also possible. Some antidotal reports also talk about how baclofen can create feelings of euphoria and pleasant relaxation that are similar to a high from narcotics.

When someone is using baclofen recreationally, they are at a high risk of an overdose because very large doses are needed to feel narcotic-like effects. Some people may experience a high with only 10 mg of baclofen, but usually people use upwards of 20 mg when they are abusing it. Combining baclofen with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol, could create more intense effects. This is a dangerous practice. Whenever someone combines central nervous system depressants, they are at risk of suffering from a fatal overdose.

A therapeutic dose of baclofen is based on individual factors, such as the patient’s age, the condition being treated and its severity, and the individual’s reaction to the first dose. An oral tablet of baclofen is available in two strengths -10 mg and 20 mg. When someone is first starting to take baclofen, a therapeutic dose is usually around 5 mg, taken three times a day. The dose may gradually be increased by a doctor.

A baclofen overdose is possible. Signs of a baclofen overdose include muscle weakness, vomiting and seizures. Other signs of a baclofen overdose can include stopped breathing or losing consciousness. A person who overdoses on baclofen may suffer from hypothermia, bradycardia, high blood pressure and slow reflexes. There’s no way to determine how much baclofen will lead to an overdose because every person is different. That’s why it’s important to use baclofen only with a prescription, as instructed by a physician.

Struggling with addiction doesn’t have to be your reality. Contact The Recovery Village to learn about treatment options available to you or your loved one now.

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