Baclofen is a standard treatment option used as an antispasmodic or a muscle relaxant. It is often used in treating muscle stiffness, pain, and spasms initiated by injuries of multiple sclerosis or the spinal cord and by other problems associated with the spine. Baclofen affects the patient’s nervous system and, in turn, relaxes the patient’s muscles. And apart from serving as a muscle relaxer, some researchers believe that baclofen can serve as a treatment option for patients suffering from alcohol addiction.
Baclofen is available in three forms: powder for suspension, liquid solution, and tablet. However, the most common form is the tablet, and patients receive the medication orally or through direct injection into the spine.
Using Baclofen to Treat Alcohol and Other Addictions
Addiction is a common issue that affects individuals of all demographics. Initially, medical experts used baclofen to treat epilepsy, but this usage was minimally successful. In 2009, Oliver Amiesen, a renowned cardiologist, printed a memoir that showed how he used baclofen to recover from alcohol dependence. This publication prompted researchers to delve into investigating how baclofen and alcohol addiction are related.
Since that time, many researchers have reported that baclofen can be an alternative to alcohol addiction treatment. Although the use of baclofen in treating alcohol dependency has gained a lot of popularity, there is no evidence proving that baclofen effectively treats alcohol addiction; hence, most medical experts consider it an off-label treatment option.
A research project carried out in 2012 revealed that baclofen was effective in treating patients suffering from alcohol addiction. However, the results also showed that baclofen was less effective in treating patients than using other forms of alcohol addiction treatments.
Furthermore, most medical personnel use it as an off-label treatment option since it has a chemical makeup that mimics the gamma-aminobutyric acid. Since this body chemical helps to calm an individual’s mood, baclofen uses the same calming effect that triggers dopamine creation in the body. When dopamine levels increase in the body, people feel much better when dealing with alcohol and other drug cravings. This, in turn, helps patients suffering from alcohol and other drug dependencies to manage their withdrawal symptoms.
How Often Is Baclofen Abused?
According to the DEA, baclofen is not listed among the controlled substances, and it is not addictive. However, if a patient or any other individual misuses the drug, he or she can become physically dependent, primarily if it is used in high doses. For this reason, baclofen is only available to patients with a valid prescription from licensed medical personnel.
There is an ability for people to abuse baclofen to get high, although it is rare. When an individual does take it in extreme doses, he or she can get a high feeling and even feel drowsy. However, some people choose to consume baclofen with other depressants that affect the central nervous system, such as alcohol, to get high. This use can be very risky and can lead the patient to an overdose, resulting in death or a coma.
In addition, if the patients use baclofen to get high, this decision can result in physical addiction. When the user suddenly stops taking the drug, it can result in deadly withdrawal symptoms if the user fails to take the drugs regularly.
What Are the Risks of Taking Baclofen?
If you are allergic to baclofen, taking it can result in allergic reactions. For instance, a patient can develop swelling of the tongue or the throat or develop breathing challenges. In severe cases, patients who are allergic to baclofen can experience severe allergic reactions that may result in death. Hence, you should always seek medical help before taking baclofen if you have ever experienced any baclofen allergic reactions.
Apart from that, baclofen can increase seizures in patients who have epilepsy. Patients with kidney disease or other kidney-related issues can have trouble clearing this drug from their systems. This difficulty can result in increased baclofen levels in the patient’s body, which can adversely affect the future patient’s health.
The Side Effects of Abusing Baclofen
Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and weakness are among the common side effects of abusing baclofen. However, if you use baclofen excessively, you may experience seizures, confusion, constipation, low blood pressure, vomiting, and nausea. At times, you might experience urinary retention, sleep disturbances, and respiratory depression.
If you abuse the injection version of baclofen regularly and stop using it suddenly, you may experience high fever and rebound muscle spasticity and rigidity. If the condition worsens, you may experience a muscle breakdown condition known as rhabdomyolysis that results in death or organ failure. Other rare side effects include chest pain, blood in the urine, and abnormal liver function tests. Combining other treatment options with baclofen can lower the user’s blood pressure and can result in brain functioning depression.
What Are the Signs of Baclofen Abuse?
If your friend or family member is taking prescribed baclofen, there are some behavioral signs that you should watch to note whether you are addicted or not. These changes include taking frequent or larger doses or taking baclofen with other drugs or alcohol. A patient who is faking symptoms to get a prescription and a family member or friend who is taking someone else’s doses are other behavioral signs to look out for. However, when a patient receives multiple baclofen prescriptions to use recreationally, contact a medical expert as soon as possible.
In some other cases, the patient might miss school or work or might experience work problems resulting from baclofen addiction. In case your friend or relative undergoes the above changes or gives up on social activities, jobs, and hobbies and starts isolating from family members and friends, contact a licensed rehab center immediately.
Is Baclofen Addictive?
The high levels of abuse associated with baclofen and its euphoric effects play a significant role in making this drug highly addictive. Failure to stop taking the medications without experiencing any withdrawal symptoms implies that you have been addicted to the drug. If the dependency gets so bad that it changes your behavior, you should seek medical help since you are experiencing baclofen addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Baclofen Withdrawal
Abuse of baclofen can result in addiction and dependence. Once a patient becomes addicted to this drug and tries to quit using it, withdrawal signs and symptoms may arise. These issues affect people abusing the drugs, but they also affect patients using baclofen as a treatment option. When not treated by a medical expert, the symptoms can be severe and potentially dangerous. Common withdrawal symptoms include confusion, insomnia, nausea, dizziness, and fever.
Failure to treat the issue early can result in more unpleasant and severe symptoms. These include a change in mental status, a high fever, tactile hallucinations, hyperthermia, tremors, seizures, tachycardia, and behavior changes. Other advanced symptoms include muscle stiffness and death. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must contact an addiction treatment facility or a detox center.
The Duration of Baclofen Withdrawal
Numerous factors play a role in determining the time that baclofen withdrawal lasts. These include the period in which the patient has been using the drug, the type of drug, and the health of the patient, the method the patient took the drug and the patient’s way to stop taking the drug. Some patients might experience withdrawal symptoms hours after taking the drug, which can last for hours or weeks. However, people suffering from physiological symptoms such as anxiety can experience this issue for months.
Halting Baclofen Abuse or Treatment
Patients and other users need to know how to stop taking or abusing baclofen. This is because weaning off baclofen comes with a host of severe symptoms. Furthermore, abrupt discontinuation of baclofen can cause death or organ failure in the worst cases. The best and ideal course to take when you want to halt taking baclofen is contacting a licensed detox specialist. You can also opt to visit a qualified lab to undergo withdrawal treatment.
Treating Baclofen Addiction and Dependency
If you are a baclofen addict, you may opt to continue with your addiction management soon after finishing the detox program. Engaging in a long-term rehab program is an effective way of overcoming physiological and physical addiction to baclofen, alcohol, and other drugs. Furthermore, long-term addiction treatment provides patients with the best recovery outcomes. It also reduces the patient’s chances of relapses by giving them time for personal change, growth, and continued support.
When you visit a qualified rehab center like Granite Recovery Center, you will work with a team of trained and licensed professionals who will help you overcome your addiction problem in different ways. During the recovery period, our team will counsel you on coping with baclofen cravings and triggers and how to solve problems associated with addiction. You will also undergo educational programs about the recovery process and the problem of baclofen addiction. You will engage in evidence-based treatments such as individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.
Outpatient Baclofen Rehab and Inpatient Baclofen Rehab
There are two types of rehab programs to consider when searching for a baclofen rehab program: inpatient and outpatient rehab programs. And although these two options focus on treating patients suffering from baclofen addiction, the two have some differences that set them apart.
For instance, in inpatient rehab program, the patients tend to live at the rehab center while undergoing a structured program of group activities, meals, personal time, and treatment programs. On the other hand, in outpatient rehab, the patient will live at home and complete the rehab center assignments.
Other Care Options for Drug Addiction and Dependency Treatment
After undergoing baclofen addiction treatment and detox, many patients require continued support from friends and family members to avoid relapse. Aftercare programs and sober living programs are among the health care options that drug addicts should try. Aftercare programs assist sober people who have completed the rehab and detox programs and who want continued support as they begin their sober lives. Through this program, patients may find aftercare helpful, especially when coping with triggers and high-risk situations and avoiding relapse.
Get Help Today
If you have a family member or friend struggling with baclofen dependency or addiction, contact Granite Recovery Center today. We offer baclofen addicts evidence-based treatment that consists of treatments such as behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, trauma therapy, and many other options. Through these therapeutic programs, patients tend to identify, reprogram, and dissect harmful behaviors and thoughts quickly. We also provide patients with sober living programs by providing our clients with sober, structured, supportive, and safe environments for early recovery.
Whether you want to receive baclofen addiction treatment or any other addiction treatment, Granite Recovery Center is here to help you. We have experienced and licensed specialists who can help you overcome your addiction problem. To learn more about drug addiction or the services we offer, call us today to book an appointment.