Baclofen is prescribed to people with muscle spasms. Their spasms may be caused by a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or another disease. The drug is typically taken orally. Patients follow a regular schedule to take the drug at the same time each day and to reduce muscle spasms.
Doctors will traditionally prescribe baclofen at the lowest dose possible. Then they gradually raise the dose based on the needs of each patient. They do this because they want to minimize their chances of becoming dependent on the drug and the unwanted side effects. Besides being administered orally, doctors can administer baclofen as an injection or via an implantable pump.
Baclofen affects the GABA receptors in the central nervous system. This is what can lead to a person eventually developing a dependency on baclofen. It typically takes a couple of months for dependence to develop. Quitting baclofen cold turkey is not recommended. Patients will typically lower their dosages gradually to minimize potentially severe withdrawal symptoms.
Baclofen withdrawal symptoms can include disorientation, hallucination, seizures, mania, tachycardia, and psychosis. Withdrawal symptoms are more severe the longer a person uses baclofen and the more abruptly they stop using it, which is why medical supervision is recommended.
What Does Baclofen Do to Your Brain and Body?
Baclofen has a chemical structure that is similar to the GABA neurotransmitter naturally produced by your body. The GABA neurotransmitter calms neural activity.
When baclofen is taken, it triggers GABA receptors in your brain. This allows your body to calm the neural activity that causes muscle spasms. Since baclofen is a nervous system depressant, it can cause you to feel drowsy and nauseous. It may affect urination, disturb your sleep, lead to constipation, and cause fatigue.
What Is the Half-Life of Baclofen?
A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for the drug’s active substance to be reduced by half in your body. Several factors influence when a drug reaches its half-life, including how your body can process and eliminate the drug. The half-life can be as little as a few hours or as long as a few weeks depending on the drug taken.
There are two points to remember when discussing any drug’s half-life:
- A short half-life means more withdrawal problems.
- A long half-life means fewer withdrawal problems.
If you take a drug that has a short half-life and you have problems with withdrawal, it may be possible to switch to a similar drug that has a longer half-life to reduce withdrawal symptoms. This may make it easier to come off the drug.
Knowing a drug’s half-life can guide you about how long it will take the drug to reach a stable level in your body. It takes about five times the drug’s half-life for it to reduce to a stable level in your body.
Baclofen has a short half-life of between two and four hours. Most patients need to take baclofen multiple times a day to control their muscle spasms consistently.
Based on this half-life estimate, baclofen needs between 10 and 20 hours to clear out of your system entirely. It is good to know this information because you can anticipate withdrawal symptoms before they occur. Baclofen withdrawal symptoms can be severe, so users must understand the half-life of baclofen before they take it.
How Long Can Baclofen Be Detected in Your Blood and Urine?
Urine tests can typically detect baclofen for up to two days. If a person takes baclofen for a longer amount of time, the drug may have accumulated in the body, increasing the window of detectability. Blood tests may show the presence of baclofen for up to 24 hours. Certain factors will determine how long the drug is present in the body.
As mentioned, baclofen has a half-life of between two and four hours, but some people will eliminate the drug faster than others. Age is a key factor in determining how long baclofen remains in the system. Older people typically have a slower metabolism, so they take longer to eliminate the drug from their bodies compared to their younger counterparts. Even individuals of the same age and similar body composition can have different metabolisms. A person who has a faster metabolism will eliminate the substance more quickly than someone with a slower metabolism.
The body mass of the individual taking the drug and the dosage used are also determining factors. Understandably, if a person takes a high dose of baclofen, their body will take longer to eliminate the substance from the system.
Some people have taken baclofen for a long period. Their bodies will take longer to eliminate the drug because the substance has had time to accumulate in their bodies.
Does Baclofen Appear in Standard Drug Screenings?
A person undergoing a standard drug screening panel is unlikely to be tested for baclofen. Since baclofen is commonly prescribed as a muscle relaxant, it is typically not included in a routine drug test.
However, if it is specifically tested for, this drug will show up in the blood for at least 24 hours after the last dose and in the urine for at least two days after the last dose. If someone took a sizeable amount of baclofen or overdosed on the drug, it may be present in the urine and the blood for up to 10 days.
The Effects of Baclofen Addiction
Some people abuse baclofen by taking a higher dose than prescribed or using it with other drugs and alcohol. When baclofen is abused, it can create a sense of euphoria. The feeling is comparable to being drunk or using marijuana.
Most baclofen users looking to get high will mix the drug with alcohol, amphetamines, or opioids. If baclofen is taken as prescribed, it is not very addictive. However, just about any substance that produces a high when misused can be addictive. As with most drugs, the user will need to increase the dosage to combat tolerance over time.
Side effects of baclofen abuse can include:
More severe side effects could include:
- Shallow or weak breathing
In their severest form, the side effects of baclofen addiction can be life-threatening. There is a high propensity toward overdosing when baclofen is used recreationally.
Signs of an overdose may include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Muscle weakness
- Shallow breathing
If an overdose is left untreated, a person may develop a slow heartbeat, bradycardia, seizures, hypothermia, or a coma. In some cases, the results are fatal. Mixing baclofen with alcohol or other drugs increases the overdose rate and can lead to more severe side effects.
Common Baclofen Withdrawal Symptoms
If a person misuses baclofen, it is easy to develop tolerance. Tolerance leads to increased dosage, which results in increased withdrawal symptoms once the person strives to break free from the substance. Baclofen withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening if they are not treated by a professional.
At Granite Recovery Center, we are experienced in helping individuals going through the detox process deal with their withdrawal symptoms in a safe, clean, and dignified environment.
The symptoms of baclofen withdrawal include:
- Tingling sensations
- Low blood pressure
- Increase in or return of spasms
If symptoms are left untreated, mild symptoms will eventually progress to more severe symptoms. These increasingly unpleasant symptoms can include:
- High fever
- Changed mental status
- Loss of function of vital organs
- Muscle stiffness
Therefore, it is important to get the care of medical professionals. Don’t try to break free from baclofen addiction on your own. At Granite Recovery Center, we can help you make the recovery process easier, which increases the rate of long-term success.
Treating Baclofen Addiction
Baclofen is sometimes used to help individuals who are already recovering from an existing addiction. It is often effective in helping those going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It has a higher rate of success when treating opioid dependence. Unfortunately, many individuals struggling with addiction take baclofen in excessive quantities and develop an addictive high.
Baclofen addiction treatment usually begins with a detox program. Research shows that long-term rehab is effective in helping people overcome physical and psychological addictions to drugs and alcohol, including baclofen. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that addiction treatments that last 90 days or longer offer the best outcome for long-term recovery.
Granite Recovery Center provides long-term drug rehab and helps reduce a person’s risk of relapse by giving them more time to change, experience personal growth, and benefit from continued support. During rehab for baclofen addiction, patients need a multidisciplinary team of professionals to deal with the various aspects of addiction.
Successful methods include:
- Education about baclofen addiction, the disease of addiction, and the process that a person goes through as they recover
- A 12-step curriculum that provides for individual and group work
- Counseling to help the individual avoid triggers and successfully deal with high-risk situations and cravings
- Lessons in communication, self-monitoring, problem-solving skills, and life skills
Successful rehabilitation programs require evidence-based treatment. These include educational lectures, family therapy, behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and group therapy.
What Happens During Detox for Baclofen?
Detox is the purging of all traces of baclofen from the body. During that process, you or your loved one will be made physically stable to start therapy.
Addiction leads to a person’s body becoming accustomed to having a substance in the system. During the detox process, that substance is gradually removed, giving the brain and the body time to adjust to the reduced baclofen levels.
The detox process can trigger unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. However, controlled and medically supervised detox can help minimize the negative impact of withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to make the withdrawal process as safe, effective, and dignified as possible.
If a person tries to detox alone, they have a low chance of success. Going cold turkey or attempting to detox on your own may lead to severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms may become so intense that you may relapse into baclofen abuse to make the symptoms go away.
Granite Recovery Center can help make the detox process easier by first giving you a medical assessment. This helps us get an accurate picture of your current state and your medical history. This information, coupled with details about your addiction, will help us craft an individualized plan tailored for your success.
Your Journey to Recovery Can Start Here
At Granite Recovery Center, we have over ten years of successful life transformations behind us. We have helped many individuals break free from the grips of alcohol and drug dependence. Our clients are from the New England area and across the country. At our New Hampshire treatment center, we offer a blend of a comprehensive 12-step curriculum with evidence-based psychotherapies.
With a fully staffed drug rehab center, we can offer the full spectrum of care you or your loved one needs. This includes medication-assistant treatment, medical detox, extended care, residential treatment, intensive outpatient counseling, and sober living facilities.
Granite Recovery Center staff takes a unique approach to treatment. We pride ourselves on helping individuals go through detox and recovery smoothly to help prevent future relapse. Our movement revolves around the idea of assisting people in pulling away from a lonely, isolated existence to having fulfilling existences that allow them to contribute meaningfully to their own lives and the lives of others.
We don’t prescribe to the idea that addiction is a moral failing or a reflection of a weak character. We see addiction as a chronic disease. Those who visit our centers are not bad people but sick people trying to get healthy again. That is at the heart of what we do. You can live a life that is free of drug dependency. Let us be there to guide you on this journey.