Baclofen is the generic name for a type of prescription muscle relaxer that is commonly used to treat neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Over the last few years, baclofen has also been used to help with the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically to help with the symptoms of withdrawal during the early stages of treatment. While prescribed only for specific uses, given the strength of the medication and its intended use, it can ultimately lead to dependence. This begs the question, “Is baclofen addictive?”
Unfortunately, some people who use baclofen can develop an addiction to it. This is largely due to its pain-relieving qualities, similar to those of opioids. If someone can’t stop taking baclofen, they may develop a dependence on it. This can also lead to baclofen withdrawal symptoms.
What is Baclofen?
As we mentioned above, baclofen is the generic name of a medication that is prescribed predominantly as a muscle relaxer. Popular brand names of this medication include Gablofen, Lioresal, Kemstro, and Lioresal. Baclofen interacts with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, blocking the signals that your body would send out to indicate that your muscles are in pain or are spasming. As a result, it can also help improve overall muscle movement, specifically in those affected areas.
In addition to treating neurological disorders, baclofen is also prescribed to those suffering from spinal injuries.
The medication can be ingested in either tablet form, an oral solution, oral powder, or even via spinal injection. The peak concentration of baclofen in the bloodstream occurs one to three hours after taking the medication orally, while the half-life is three to four hours in the plasma.
What Is the Recommended Dosage For Baclofen?
The recommended daily dosage of baclofen is no more than 100mg. Most baclofen prescriptions are in small and frequent doses. It’s recommended to take it no more than three times a day. If and when you decide to stop, it is important to do so slowly over a one- to two-week period to eliminate the potential for extreme withdrawal symptoms. For efficiency purposes, it is also crucial to not miss any doses or not taking them as scheduled. In order to be effective, there needs to be a certain amount of baclofen must be in your body at all times.
Before taking any form of baclofen, it is important that you speak with your doctor. Your doctor will determine the dosage amount that is right for you, as well as determine if baclofen will work well for you and your condition.
Side Effects of Baclofen Use
The most common side effects associate with baclofen include:
- Muscle weakness
- Upset stomach
Is Baclofen Addictive?
Taking baclofen in excess or combining it with other drugs or alcohol can produce a euphoric high that many users can get addicted to. There are certain signs and symptoms to look for that may indicate that you have ingested too much baclofen and may be experiencing an overdose. These include:
- Weak or shallow breathing
- Severe muscle weakness
- Heart issues
- Slowed heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Low body temperature
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of ingesting too much baclofen it is important to get them medical help immediately.
Just like with any prescribed substance, it is important to gradually increase or decrease your dosage gradually over time. This is known as tapering. Not doing so can result in your body growing dependent on the substance and ultimately developing an addiction.
Can Baclofen Be Mixed With Other Substances?
Before mixing any types of medications together, it’s always important to speak with a doctor to make sure it is safe to do so. However, for those using baclofen in ways other than directed, it can be common to mix baclofen with other substances to increase the “high.” The most common things people mix with baclofen include:
- Central nervous system depressants
Since both alcohol and baclofen are central nervous system depressants, mixing them can heighten both of their effects to dangerous levels. While this might be done purposefully, it can have negative effects such as extreme levels of drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, changes in mood, and agitation. Mixing the two can also result in an increase in blood pressure and heart rate and even cause seizures.
What Are Some Signs I Might Be Suffering From Baclofen Withdrawal?
As with any other substance of abuse, once your body has grown dependent on the substance, attempting to stop taking it can lead to extreme withdrawal symptoms. Some of the common symptoms associated with baclofen withdrawal include:
- Extreme hallucinations
- Memory loss
- Extreme mood swings or changes in behavior
- Changes in perception
If you are attempting to withdraw from baclofen and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to get professional help immediately. Patients do this before the symptoms become more extreme and possibly become fatal.
If You Can Get Addicted to Baclofen, How Is It Used In Treating Addictions?
While it might seem strange that a drug you can get addicted to can also be used to treat addiction, this is the case with baclofen.
In 2009, a cardiologist named Olivier Amiesen discovered that he was able to recover from his alcohol addiction thanks in large part to taking baclofen. It was after this discovery that researchers began to explore the possibilities of baclofen being used to help with addiction treatment. Since the drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for addiction treatment, it is considered “off-label.” However, over the last decade, it has still become a prominent addiction treatment tool amongst medical and treatment professionals.
Because of the way it reacts with GABA receptors in the brain, it can produce a calming effect that causes dopamine levels to increase in the body. This is ideal for those people who are suffering during the early stages of detox and recovery by helping them manage their withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, the “feel-good” effects that baclofen can produce can also help cut down on any cravings someone may have as well.
Research has shown that baclofen has been particularly helpful for those suffering from alcohol, opioid, cocaine, and nicotine addictions.
Is Treatment Available For Baclofen Addiction?
If you find yourself suffering from a baclofen addiction, the good news is that there are treatment options available for you. Just like with any other substance of abuse, baclofen addiction can be treated using traditional treatment methods.
The first step in the treatment process is to undergo medical detox. This is done to rid your body of baclofen as well as any other harmful substance you might have been taking. After all, how can your body learn to not need baclofen anymore without first getting rid of it?
Due to some of the side effects associated with baclofen withdrawal, it’s important to undergo detox under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. This can be done at either a medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also provides detox services. Any attempt to self-detox can be incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
Once the detox process has been completed, it is then time to begin your addiction treatment. This can be done via either inpatient or outpatient treatment depending on your situation and which option your treatment professional thinks is best for you.
Inpatient (or residential) treatment is best for people with a severe addiction. Here, patients will receive 24/7 care from trained staff and will dedicate all of their time to treatment. On the other hand, outpatient treatment works for people with a more mild addiction. Outpatient treatment allows patients to attend programs several times a week while making time for school, work, or child care.
During treatment, you will undergo countless hours of therapy sessions, both in one-on-one and group settings. These therapy sessions will allow you to learn not only what exactly causes your addiction but also how to go about your new life drug and alcohol-free. The group sessions can also provide an opportunity to build a support system and learn from others going through similar things as you.
Find Help from Addiction Intervention Today
Baclofen is a unique drug in that while someone can get addicted to it, it can also be used to treat other addictions. If you develop an addiction to baclofen, though, you’re going to need some help.
Whether you are someone who is suffering from a baclofen addiction or think that baclofen might help you recover, Addiction Intervention is here. It is our goal to get you the help you need so you can live a happy and sober life. Contact us today to learn more about different treatment options and how you can get on the road to recovery.