Baclofen is a muscle relaxant drug that was initially created to ease the symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. In the past decade, however, baclofen has increasingly been used for the off-label purpose of easing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Evidence-based reports state that, similar to methadone or naltrexone, chronic administration of baclofen reduces the drug-motivated behaviors in opiate, amphetamine and cocaine abuse, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A common trend among people addicted to opioids is to begin abusing the very drug intended to help them overcome their addiction, and unfortunately, baclofen is no exception. Addicts have quickly figured out that taking large doses of baclofen gives them a buzz similar to alcohol but without the hangover. And more often, users mix baclofen with other, stronger drugs or with alcohol to intensify the effects of the drug. Just as with any drug, it is not safe to take baclofen in doses larger than those prescribed by a licensed pharmacist or physician or to mix it with other drugs or alcohol.
Baclofen has been found to be an addictive drug in the sense that it causes a pleasurable sensation when ingested in large amounts. Over time, higher and higher doses are needed to experience this feeling. Side effects of baclofen addiction include confusion, drowsiness, and dizziness. One of the more severe side effects of baclofen abuse is difficulty breathing, which can be life-threatening.
Baclofen addiction is a tough one to battle; according to medtronic.com, the effects of baclofen withdrawal include an increase in or return of spasticity, itching, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and tingling sensations. These symptoms are highly unpleasant, and it’s important that those experiencing possible withdrawal seek the care of a medical professional.
The baclofen website says, “If not treated, early symptoms of withdrawal can progress to advanced symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of advanced withdrawal are high fever, changed mental status, and muscle stiffness. In rare cases, withdrawal may result in loss of function of many vital organs and death.” One person on a drug forum also attests to the tough withdrawal symptoms that come with baclofen addiction, saying, “Tolerance builds fast and [withdrawal] is reportedly as bad as valium so take care.”
If you or a loved one could be struggling with substance use disorder involving baclofen or other drugs, we invite you to contact our compassionate and well-trained team at The Recovery Village. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. As always, we’re here and ready to help in any way we can.
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