Baclofen is an antispasmodic medicine, which means it treats muscle spasms and twitches by relaxing the body’s muscles. When taken as directed by a doctor, it can be an effective treatment for symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, spinal injuries, and even alcohol detox. On its own, it is not a particularly addictive drug. However, mixing it with other drugs, such as marijuana, alcohol, or opioids, can increase the “high” it causes, making Baclofen potentially addictive. When someone is dependent on baclofen, stopping suddenly can cause serious withdrawal symptoms – sometimes the same symptoms it is intended to treat.
What is Baclofen?
Baclofen works by reducing the communication between muscles and the central nervous system. This makes stiffness and spasms less likely. Doctors usually prescribe Baclofen to treat patients with medical conditions that cause these symptoms, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. While more medical proof is needed, one study showed that baclofen can also help with alcohol addiction by reducing or even eliminating cravings. People usually take it in tablet form, and medical professionals may sometimes administer it by injecting it into a patient’s spinal fluid. Patients may also apply it to the skin as a cream or liquid. Baclofen’s side effects are generally mild:
- Trouble Sleeping
There are no specific drugs that are prescribed with Baclofen, but there are several that should be avoided while taking it. Codeine, fentanyl, and morphine all have major interactions with Baclofen. Each of these drugs combined with Baclofen have similar side effects, the worst of which include trouble breathing, coma, and death. When combining baclofen with alcohol, someone may experience dizziness, drowsiness, or difficulty concentrating. Some people may even have trouble thinking or making clear-headed decisions. If you are taking baclofen, you should avoid operating machinery or driving until you know how it affects you, and do not combine it with other drugs without doctor supervision.
Is Baclofen Addictive?
Most people who abuse baclofen don’t do so intentionally at first. Someone may begin taking more than their directed dose thinking that more is better. People also sometimes mix it with other drugs without knowing the possible interactions and start down a dangerous path. Doctors commonly prescribe the use of Baclofen to treat withdrawal symptoms of other addictive substances, but Baclofen itself can become addictive. This means it can cause its own set of withdrawal symptoms. Some people abuse baclofen on its own (though this is rare), and abuse can develop into addiction. In one case, a user experienced feelings of well-being and pleasure for no apparent reason, as well as a craving for Baclofen. However, even a small decrease in dosage caused the patient to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Baclofen withdrawal begins immediately after someone stops taking the drug, and the symptoms are sometimes severe. This usually happens when someone quits “cold turkey” – going from a full, regular dosage to nothing at all. However, withdrawal symptoms can also appear when a patient simply decreases their usual dose. Since dependence is possible even in small doses, it is important to start and stop taking baclofen gradually. Consult a medical professional if you think you should stop taking Baclofen or if it isn’t working for you. Some of the most common baclofen withdrawal symptoms include:
However, quitting baclofen can also cause more serious symptoms:
These are more likely to occur if someone has been abusing baclofen along with alcohol or other drugs. This is where medically-supervised detox can be important and even life-saving.
Overcoming Baclofen Withdrawal
Baclofen withdrawal symptoms are serious, and can occur very quickly, sometimes appearing as soon as 48 hours after someone stops taking the medication. Depending on withdrawal severity, some people may need medical attention. Because many people often don’t realize withdrawal can occur while taking Baclofen, they may simply stop taking it altogether, and not realize the consequences. It’s important to remember the seriousness of baclofen withdrawal and speak to your doctor if you want or plan to stop taking baclofen.
The Bottom Line
While baclofen can be extremely beneficial when treating muscle spasms or alcohol detox, no one should take it casually. Baclofen can be abused by itself or with other drugs, sometimes leading to dangerous side effects. Dependence to baclofen also develops relatively quickly, and can occur even even if someone is taking a small amount. Since withdrawal symptoms can be so severe, caution is key when deciding how to stop taking Baclofen. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with Baclofen abuse, or any addiction, reach out for help. Contact us and we can help you on your journey to sobriety.