What You Need to Know About Baclofen and Addiction

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen was initially introduced in 1960 to treat epilepsy. This use was determined to be ineffective. In 1971 baclofen was reintroduced to treat muscle spasticity. It is now prescribed to target spinal cord nerve disorders to relieve pain and muscle spasms (muscle stiffness and tightness). Baclofen is classified as a skeletal muscle relaxant. It is most prescribed for individuals with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord diseases. This drug acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to produce the relaxant effect. Baclofen use does not cure disorders; it is prescribed to elevate symptoms, though it may help reduce problems with tight muscles, for example, so that other therapies may be used. It has mood-elevating properties, which can lead to abuse.

Baclofen is an agonist, which means it creates, artificially, a reaction to a specific receptor in or on a cell’s surface. Agonists stimulate a cell receptor’s response. For example, endorphins are natural agonists of opioid receptors. The agonist activates a cell receptor response. Baclofen, as an agonist, binds to GABA receptors. GABA is an amino acid that inhibits the CNS, which is why it is part of muscle relaxant drugs. Research indicates that drugs affecting CNS, such as baclofen, can also produce a calming effect. Sometimes, it is prescribed for treating anxiety, stress, and fear.

According to the American Family Physician Foundation, the effectiveness of skeletal muscle relaxants has not necessarily been shown to be more effective than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or acetaminophen. Comparative studies are limited. Additionally, adverse reactions to CNS depressants can include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • headache
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • fatigue
  • frequent urination

Some patients can experience seizures and hallucinations.

Combining this medication with other medications can acerbate problems and lead to unexpected new reactions. If a person were to abuse baclofen along with tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and prescription pain medication, or benzodiazepines, for example, the side effects of those drugs together would be worse than one taken alone.

Symptoms of Overdose

  • blurred vision
  • irregular breathing
  • loss of strength
  • pale, or blue lips, fingernails or skin

In 2016, the FDA issued a drug safety alert about the serious risks of combining opioids and other CNS depressants. They determined that Black Box warnings were needed and revised warnings and precautions in the labeling sections should be added.

Alcohol Abuse and Baclofen

Recently, baclofen has been used to treat cravings in the treatment of alcohol-dependent individuals. Limited data exist, and results have been contradictory. The use of baclofen to treat alcoholic cravings is more frequently used in Europe and Australia than in the US. Furthermore, pre-existing conditions can exclude the use of baclofen in alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some data reveals that alcohol-dependent individuals with major depressor disorders use baclofen can cause baclofen-induced hypomania. This response indicates that the individual will become overly active or excited in the short term. It is a less mild mania and lasts several days instead of weeks or months.

Combining baclofen with sleeping pills, sedatives, anti-depressants, or tranquilizers is inadvisable. If at any time, while abusing baclofen one suddenly stops the medication without physician guidance, withdrawal symptoms may occur. Sudden withdrawal symptoms from baclofen use on include but are not limited to:

  • sleepiness
  • insomnia
  • lack of mental alertness
  • delusions
  • delirium
  • feeling cold
  • visual changes
  • seizures

If abusing several drugs simultaneously, additional withdrawal symptoms will also occur.

Risks of Addictive Behavior

As repeatedly stated above, baclofen is a CNS inhibitor. As such, arbitrarily mixing baclofen with other potent drugs can lead to an array of dangerous symptoms. Combining drugs that are CNS depressants can result in respiratory depression (slow breathing or difficulty breathing). According to an article in Pharmacological Research, “most patients with AUD have tried or are actively using other drugs, and more than 33% of them present a drug use disorder.”

According to a National Institute on Drug Abuse report, from 2019 to 2020, the number of overdose deaths involving prescription drugs increased to 16,416.

Treatment for Addictive Behavior

Substance abuse treatment is determined by the individual’s needs, physical history, health conditions, family history, psychological history, and more. “Treatment must take into account the type of drug used…Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including detoxification, counseling, and medications.”

There are two categories of treatment: behavioral (which includes a variety of therapeutic modalities and medication. Often, a person going through treatment will require a combination of treatment categories. The treatment protocol depends on the age, medical history and psychological profile, life skill analysis, and more to change unhealthy thinking and behaviors that perpetuate SUD. Sometimes family therapy is needed to address underlying issues and work-related stressors. Suppose the addict is addicted to multiple substances. In that case, the treatment approach must also address that some drugs can cause personality changes, changes in brain chemistry and function, and deepen certain mental health disorders.

As stated above, multiple therapeutic approaches are needed to support recovery. Choosing a licensed treatment facility that provides ongoing medical support (addiction physician, addiction clinicians, and technicians) who can closely monitor a client’s progress is best. The facility should also be able to provide a thoroughly thought-out aftercare plan and links to regulated and monitored sober living houses if that is needed.

 Call our center today if you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse. A trained staff member can answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. Calling the treatment facility is the first step toward regaining your life.

References:

Connor Barton
Connor Barton
2022-06-03
The staff here is amazing. Caring and attentive. I finally kicked the sticks and couldn’t be happier.
Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
2022-06-03
So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
2022-05-20
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
2022-05-04
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
2022-05-04
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
2022-03-21
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
2022-03-07
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
2022-02-26
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
2022-01-29
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

No products in the cart.