Baclofen is a generic medication, also sold under the brand name Lioresal. Baclofen is prescribed to treat muscle spasticity. Specifically, baclofen can be used to treat spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. It is also used off-label to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome, although there isn’t much research on the effectiveness of this practice yet.
Baclofen is a derivative of the naturally-occurring GABA neurotransmitter. It activates GABA receptors in the central nervous system, which calms nerve activity. Due to its effects on the brain and central nervous system, there is a potential for abuse with the use of baclofen. Some people may experience a sense of well-being or relaxation when using baclofen. Signs that indicate that a person is abusing this drug can include using higher doses than prescribed, combining it with other central nervous system depressants to increase the effects, or using it without a prescription.
Dependence and addiction are also possible with the use of baclofen. Baclofen can result in withdrawal symptoms that are severe. Baclofen withdrawal occurs when the brain becomes dependent upon the drug’s effects, particularly on GABA receptors. Baclofen withdrawal can occur even if someone is using it exactly as prescribed. It’s important for people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of baclofen withdrawal and to seek medical care before they stop using it.
Baclofen withdrawal symptoms can be similar to those of benzodiazepine and alcohol withdrawal. Withdrawal from all of these substances can be severe and, in some cases, deadly. People are most likely to go through baclofen withdrawal if they have been using the drug for more than a few months. Baclofen withdrawal can occur whether someone uses a low or high dose. If someone suddenly stops using the drug, withdrawal symptoms are more likely to be severe. Baclofen withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Tactile hallucinations
- Memory problems
- Changes in perception
- Mood disturbances
- Changes in behavior
- Extreme rebound muscle rigidity and spasticity
Like most other drugs, the withdrawal timeline can vary quite a bit depending on the individual and how long they’ve used baclofen. Whether or not they taper down their dosage gradually or stop using it suddenly is also relevant. Withdrawal symptoms tend to be most severe for patients who use the spinal injection version of baclofen. This can cause advanced withdrawal. Symptoms of advanced baclofen withdrawal include high fever, muscle stiffness and changes in mental status. In some cases, sudden baclofen withdrawal can cause organ failure and death.
How Long Does Baclofen Withdrawal Last?
The specific baclofen withdrawal timeline can vary a lot depending on the individual, the dosage of baclofen, route of administration and how long the drug was used. However, a general timeline for baclofen withdrawal is similar to alcohol withdrawal since both affect GABA in the brain. For some people, baclofen withdrawal symptoms can start within a few hours after the last dose is taken. However, it can also take up to 48 hours for baclofen withdrawal symptoms to occur. Symptoms will usually peak within 72 hours. For some people, baclofen withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety can persist for months, in some cases.
Before someone stops using baclofen, they should be aware of the risks of withdrawal. Because of the possible severity of baclofen withdrawal, a professional baclofen detox is often recommended. Some of the most severe symptoms of baclofen withdrawal, such as seizures, hallucinations and organ failure, can be avoided if someone participates in a professional baclofen detox. During a baclofen detox, a patient’s dosage of the drug is tapered down under close medical supervision. Certain medical interventions can be performed to ensure that a patient stays safe, is as comfortable as possible, and so that their vitals can be monitored during the process. During a baclofen detox, a patient can also start to be assessed for any co-occurring mental health conditions and begin treatment for them as well. Baclofen detox is never something that someone should attempt to do at home or on their own because it can be deadly.
For questions about medical detox or addiction treatment, contact The Recovery Village today.
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