Because this medication is not as popular as drugs like Oxycodone or Vicodin, it is not talked about as much in the media. But its use is becoming more common, and it can be abused by those who choose to do so.
If you have become addicted to Baclofen, please know that there is hope. You do not have to remain addicted to it, and there are ways for you to get treatment so you can stop. But first, it is very important for you to know more about this drug and how dangerous it can be.
Baclofen is a medication that is typically used to treat muscle spasms for people with various types of conditions. It works by acting on the GABA receptors in the spinal cord for someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis or a similar diseases. It can relieve pain and make it easier for them to move their muscles.
Baclofen goes by a few other brand names, including Kemstro and Lioresal. Doctors may attempt to place their patients on alternate drugs first because there are risks associated with this medication.
Baclofen can also be used to treat severe cases of the hiccups, or for muscle spasms when someone is at the end of their life. It is given in the form of a pill, or by injection directly into the spinal cord.
Baclofen is not a narcotic, and some people believe that this means it should be non-addictive and relatively safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all. There are many drugs on the market that are addictive, and yet, they are not considered narcotics.
When Baclofen is prescribed, it is usually given in a small dose at first. Over time, the dosage amount is increased slowly. It can take some time before a person reaches the therapeutic level. But, even though someone has followed their doctor’s instructions to the letter, they can still become addicted to it.
This is a medication that causes withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop taking it. That makes it physically addictive. It is also possible to reach a point where you believe that you need this drug to be OK. That in itself makes it psychologically addictive as well.
Like other drugs, Baclofen has a fairly long list of side effects. Some of them are typical with the use of the medication, and they may go away with time. Others may linger, or they may get worse as the dosage increases. The side effects tend to be both psychological and physical in nature.
The physical side effects of Baclofen include:
The psychological side effects of Baclofen can potentially become very serious. People can suffer from:
Any side effects – physical or mental – should be discussed with a doctor. Physicians are aware of the possibility of side effects, but they prescribe this drug because they believe it to be beneficial. In their opinion, the benefits of it outweigh the risk of side effects.
Baclofen is a very powerful, potent medication. Anytime it is prescribed, the physician should be made aware of any other drugs the person is taking. This also applies to any herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
Of course, there are those who will knowingly abuse other drugs while they are taking Baclofen. They may do this in an attempt to enhance the way they feel when they are on both at the same time. This is very dangerous, and it can result in significant adverse effects, that can even become life threatening.
Baclofen is classified as a central nervous system depressant, and the same is true for alcohol. Because of this, mixing the two together can be extremely dangerous.
Both of them lower the neurotransmission levels in the brain. This tends to create a relaxed and mellow feeling that is experienced when a person only takes one or the other. When the two are combined, that feeling is multiplied. Alcohol offers depressant effects whereas Baclofen relaxes the muscles. For someone who is suffering and in pain, taking the two together sounds like it might be a good idea to get some relief.
Alcohol tends to heighten the side effects that people experience when they take Baclofen. That means, people tend to have:
This type of interaction is known as a pharmacodynamic interaction. This is an interaction in which the use of alcohol enhances the effects of a medication. This particularly takes place within the central nervous system.
This type of interaction can have an extremely dangerous impact on the body. In 2012, a study documented the case of a man who was 46 years old. He mixed 240 mg of Baclofen with alcohol. He did not have a history of neurological problems or disorders, but he suffered from two seizures after drinking while on this drug. Other studies have shown that mixing the two substances together can lead to increased heart rate and high blood pressure. For those with pre-existing heart conditions, the consequences can become even worse.
Without a doubt, opioids are the most commonly prescribed classification of drugs in the world. In fact, in 2016, healthcare providers across the United States wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for painkillers. That is a rate of 66.5 prescriptions for every 100 people in our country, and proof that the opioid epidemic is out of control. That is a staggering amount, but it is not surprising that someone who is taking Baclofen might try to mix it with one of these drugs.
In the central nervous system, opioid receptors and GABA receptors overlap. Scientists believe that this means that the two systems are probably interrelated, and they can modify each other.
Doctors may prescribe an opioid drug along with Baclofen, which is true for other, similar types of drugs as well. But when they are taken together, without a doctor’s OK, and in excessive amounts, the results can be very dangerous.
Opioids have a calming effect, and they produce a sensation of euphoria that can complement Baclofen very well. This sensation can quickly become addictive. Also, in higher dosages, respiratory depression is a very real concern when both drugs are combined.
When Baclofen is mixed with stimulants, the concerns are very different. It is always dangerous to combine two drugs with each other that both do the opposite in the body.
As we have discussed previously, Baclofen has a relaxant effect on the body. This is not the case with stimulants, and their sole purpose is to speed things up; both physically and mentally. While there are no reported interactions between this medication and drugs like Adderall, it is still important to be cautious.
The most concerning aspect of this combination is the effect it might have on a person’s heart. That is why it is so important to bring it to a doctor’s attention if you are taking a CNS stimulant and getting a prescription for Baclofen.
Most people agree that in smaller doses, the euphoria that people experience with Baclofen is mostly non-existent. It is only in higher doses that people begin to feel the high that the drug can cause.
Typically, people who abuse Baclofen are most likely doing so by accident. They may appreciate the way the drug works for them when they first start taking it. But over time, the effectiveness of it begins to diminish as they develop a tolerance. Instead of talking with their doctors about their concerns, they take matters into their own hands.
Usually, people begin by increasing their dosage on their own, or taking doses too close together. With more of the drug in their system, they start to experience that euphoria, which can quickly become addictive. This is Baclofen abuse, and it is much more common than most people realize.
People who get high on Baclofen describe the sensations they experience as an initial, light buzz. They feel mildly dizzy, and may become clumsy and have problems with coordination. There are those who will become nauseous, much like they do when they drink too much alcohol. Of course, some report not having any euphoria at all. Instead, they feel an intense feeling of relaxation and tend to sleep for many hours after having taken the drug.
There is no telling how much it might take before a person gets high on Baclofen because everyone is different. For one person, they may need to take three pills. Another person may need to take five or six.
In general, people progress to using Baclofen to get high. At first, they usually just increase how much of the drug they are taking. In time, they may move on to mixing it with other drugs, and snorting or smoking the crushed pills. There are also those who will either inject the drug in liquid form, or crush the pills, mix them with a liquid and inject them that way.
Most people who get addicted to Baclofen are surprised to learn that they are addicted. This is because they tend to think of addiction as something that happens to other people; they believe it could never happen to them. Of course, they are wrong.
All instances of addiction begin with abusing a drug. In most cases, it takes some time to get the brain accustomed to the changes that a new drug presents when a person starts taking it. Once the brain adjusts, when that drug is no longer present, there is a reaction in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Also, Baclofen can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, which is why people experience euphoria when they take it.
Dopamine is the chemical the brain makes when a person feels happy, safe and secure. It is experienced every time you have a delicious meal or spend time with a close friend. It is an essential part of life for humans.
Over time, when drugs like Baclofen are present, the brain begins to forget how to make dopamine on its own. That means that without the drug, an addict does not feel like themselves. They need to use again just to feel normal. At that point, the person is addicted, but it can take some time to reach that point; although the length of time is different for everyone.
After learning all of this information about Baclofen, you probably only have one question left to get an answer for – are you addicted? That is a great question, and you certainly need to know the truth.
There are a few different ways to find out if you are addicted to Baclofen. It is possible that you could be addicted to this drug without knowing it, and for many people, that is the case.
If you are addicted to Baclofen, that means that your drug use has gotten out of control. You have most likely been abusing it for far too long, and at this point, you feel as though you cannot live without it. This can be the case even if you have been taking the drug for what your doctor believes is an appropriate amount of time.
It is very important to know what the signs of addiction are. They can include:
All of these signs of addiction are indicative of a serious problem. Also, you do not have to have every symptom on the list in order to be addicted. But the more you can relate to, the worse your addiction may be. It is possible to only have one or two of these symptoms and still be an addict.
If you think you might be addicted to Baclofen, it is important to find out for sure. You should take the following steps.
First, please visit our Am I Addicted Quiz page and take the quiz that is there. It will ask you a series of questions about your drug use habits. Be very honest when you answer the questions. Remember, this is for your knowledge only. Once you know the severity of your substance abuse problem, you can take the next steps and act appropriately.
If you are addicted, the quiz will advise you about what steps to take. This might mean talking with someone in the addiction treatment industry to discuss your situation in greater detail. Many drug rehab programs offer free addiction assessments that can be done over the phone. You talk with them about your drug use, and they will advise you about the type of treatment that is necessary for you to recover.
It is much better for you to have answers then to continue to live in denial. At the very least, it will put your mind at ease, and you can begin to think about what you would like to do next.
Once people experience what the Baclofen high feels like, they often do not want to stop using. They want to continue with that feeling because it helps them cope. But doing so – even for only a short time period – can have devastating consequences. There are both short and long-term effects with this drug.
For those who use Baclofen in the short-term, they are very likely to experience many of the above mentioned side effects. As we mentioned earlier, those side effects can become much more severe when the drug is combined with alcohol or other drugs. In higher dosages, it can cause worsened side effects and sensations of euphoria.
In general, the short-term effects of Baclofen are not worrisome enough to people to get them to stop. In fact, many of those effects are exactly what they are looking for. But the longer they take the drug, the more risks there are.
When a person takes Baclofen long-term, the number of risks significantly increases. Not only are they likely to experience ongoing side effects, but they could be putting their muscles in danger.
Dr. Christine Thomas is a faculty member of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami. Her findings state that long-term use of this drug can have unwanted effects on people who live with chronic spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Thomas and her team evaluated thumb muscles in three different groups of people. They were:
Their findings suggested that those in the first group suffered from significantly weaker and slower muscle contractions. They also had slower conducting nerves within the muscle fibers in contrast to both of the control groups.
This means that over time, Baclofen can make the muscles in the body much weaker. People may also find that they get fatigued much faster than they did previously.
The American Journal of Medicine offers some interesting information on the use of Baclofen in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome, or AWS. Historically, the most common treatment for AWS has been benzodiazepine drugs like Valium or Ativan. Prior to their study, there had not been any studies that compare the use of these medications with AWS. Their findings on Baclofen may be promising.
Research has shown that Baclofen may reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. There were 37 patients enrolled in the study, and all of them were suffering from AWS. 18 of them were prescribed Baclofen 30 mg per day for ten days. 19 of them were prescribed Valium 0.5-0.75 mg a day for six days. After that, the dose was tapered by 25% each day through day ten. Each participant was evaluated for their physical symptoms of withdrawal using The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment.
People in both groups experienced significantly decreased alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In fact, there were no major differences between the two different types of treatment. The only variance was that people tended to feel better faster with Valium than they did with Baclofen.
While some may be touting the use of Baclofen as a “cure for addiction,” they should be cautioned. There is no cure for addiction as of right now. It might be a feasible treatment with more research in the future. But the FDA has not approved it for that purpose. Doctors can still prescribe it for people going through alcohol withdrawal on an off-label basis, and many do.
The biggest issue with using Baclofen to treat alcoholism is the fact that it could be allowing people to trade one addiction for another. This is the same argument that many experts have regarding the use of medications to treat withdrawal.
The reality is that this drug can be addictive when it is misused or abused. It is possible for someone to begin to believe that they need it in order to be OK. After all, it helped them with their symptoms, so it must be necessary.
The other issue is that more research needs to be done. The fact that the FDA has not approved Baclofen to treat alcoholism is something that should not be ignored.
The FDA has issued a black box warning for Baclofen because of the withdrawal symptoms that can occur when it is stopped. They can actually be life-threatening, which is something more patients need to be made aware of when they start taking it. This is why it is so important to stop taking this drug in a monitored environment where you can get quick medical treatment, if necessary.
Having said that, stopping this drug cold turkey should never be attempted. It is necessary to get treatment for withdrawal, as well as to go to a quality rehabilitation center to get additional support to stay in recovery.
When someone goes through withdrawal because of this drug, they are diagnosed with Baclofen withdrawal syndrome. This is a very dangerous condition, and some of the withdrawal symptoms a person might experience include:
The first step in recovery for someone who is addicted to Baclofen is to go through drug detox. This should only be done in an inpatient setting, and while there are outpatient detoxification programs, they can be very dangerous.
Drug detox involves a process of treating withdrawal symptoms as toxins from the drug exit the body. There are many different ways doctors treat Baclofen withdrawal syndrome, but they typically include the following.
You may be given smaller doses of Baclofen until you are no longer taking the drug at all. This is called a medical taper. The belief is that with smaller doses over time, the body will adjust and withdrawal symptoms should be minimized.
But, the person is likely to experience some discomfort even though they go through a tapering period. This is to be expected, but typically, that discomfort can be treated so that it is less problematic.
You may be given additional medications that are targeted to specifically treat your withdrawal symptoms. For instance, if you are considered a risk for seizures, you may be placed on an anticonvulsant drug. If you are at risk for depression or anxiety, you may be prescribed an antidepressant. This is called medical detox.
In general, these new medications are not intended to be a long-term solution. They are only prescribed in the short-term to help people get through their withdrawals. They should be discontinued at a time that you and your doctor decide they should be.
Many detoxification programs also understand the need for holistic treatments during withdrawal. This may be especially necessary for someone going through Baclofen withdrawal.
Holistic detox usually involves talking with a nutritionist to improve your diet and adding physical exercise to your daily regimen. Most people with addictions struggle to get the proper vitamins and nutrients from their food. They may also not get enough exercise. This type of treatment targets a person’s overall health. It helps the body get rid of toxins faster.
For someone with a Baclofen addiction, holistic detox may help them physically as well, by strengthening their muscles. This is an added benefit.
The detoxification process may take as little as a few days, or it might take a few weeks. Everyone is different. But afterwards, it is critical to go to a high quality drug rehab for further treatment. It is essential to understand what it was that led to the addiction so that real healing can take place. Otherwise, the individual is likely to return to using.
During rehab, patients work closely with a therapist in a one on one setting. They also have group therapy and participate in other forms of treatment. They learn how to avoid a relapse and make a plan to live their lives without the use of this drug.
Many people with Baclofen addictions also suffer from co-occurring disorders, and many of them are not aware of this fact. This refers to a mental health condition that they are inadvertently using the drug to treat themselves.
Uncovering and treating a co-occurring disorder is very important. By removing the cause of the addiction, the person’s chances of recovering increase significantly.
At Northpoint Washington, we know that it is hard to admit that you are addicted to Baclofen. We want you to know that we are here to help and support you so that you can stop successfully.
Do you need to learn more about Baclofen addiction and treatment? Please contact us.