Baclofen Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, and Treatment
What is baclofen? Also known by brand names Kemstro and Lioresal, baclofen is a prescription muscle relaxant drug most often used by people with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord diseases.
What is baclofen? Also known by brand names Kemstro and Lioresal, baclofen is a prescription muscle relaxant drug most often used by people with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord diseases. This medication is designed to alleviate pain, muscle spasms, and improve muscle movement. It also has an off-label use of alcohol addiction treatment, although the effectiveness of this is still being researched. Today, we’re looking into the possibility of baclofen addiction, as well as its side effects and signs of abuse.
What Does Baclofen Do?
Baclofen is used to help certain muscles in the body relax. It relieves spasms, cramping, and tightness of muscles that are caused by medical conditions like multiple sclerosis or certain spinal injuries.
Baclofen is a GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) agonist, meaning its primary mechanism of action is to reduce the release of excitatory neurotransmitters by binding to the GABA receptor. Basically, baclofen alleviates muscle cramps and spasms by reducing the transmission of messages between nerve cells, reducing contraction, cramping, and stiffness in the muscles.
Baclofen Side Effects
In addition to its needed effects, baclofen may also produce some undesirable side effects. Common side effects of baclofen include:
More severe side effects of baclofen may include difficulty breathing and seizures. As a GABA agonist, this medication can also be considered a central nervous system depressant, which is known to present risky breathing problems when misused or abused.
It’s important to avoid taking higher doses of baclofen than prescribed or directed by a doctor to avoid the adverse reactions listed above as well as overdose. Baclofen overdose may occur if a higher dose than prescribed is taken or if it’s mixed with other substances like drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, some individuals may be more susceptible to the adverse side effects of baclofen, such as the elderly or those with kidney problems or poor renal function. Individuals with conditions like galactose intolerance, active peptic ulceration, and porphyria should also avoid taking this medication.
People who also have psychiatric disorders, seizure disorders, sphincter hypertonia, liver disease, or diabetes mellitus should also avoid taking baclofen.
Doses of baclofen are usually increased or decreased over time to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The usual dose of baclofen ranges from 5 mg three times daily for three days to no more than 80 mg per day for the oral solution. The average dose for baclofen tablets may begin at 5 mg three times daily and be increased to no more than 80 mg per day.
Is Baclofen Addictive?
Yes, baclofen is addictive. Those who engage in baclofen abuse – including taking higher doses than prescribed or mixing it with alcohol or drugs – are at an increased risk of developing an addiction to the drug.
Usually, baclofen addiction begins with increased tolerance, which is when the person has to use more of the drug to experience the same effect. A patient who’s becoming tolerant to the drug may take more than their doctor prescribed to them to experience relief.
Eventually, physical dependence may occur, which is when the person experiences withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t taking the drug. Oftentimes, people who are physically dependent on a drug may keep taking it simply to avoid withdrawals.
After a while, however, their tolerance will continue to grow, and their drug use will become more severe. There are also some people who take baclofen to get high.
Like alcohol and other GABA agonists, baclofen can produce a high when taken in high enough doses, which can encourage further drug-taking behavior. As previously mentioned, there’s a high risk of baclofen overdose when the drug is consistently abused.
If you notice that your tolerance to baclofen has increased, speak to your doctor right away. Do not take higher doses than you’ve been prescribed.
Signs of Baclofen Abuse
People who abuse their prescription drugs may exhibit certain physical and behavioral signs. Some signs of baclofen abuse to look out for include:
Doctor shopping (switching from one doctor to the next for prescriptions)
Lying or stealing to get more of the drug
Decreased performance at school, work, or home
Withdrawal from loved ones
Lack of interest in activities they once liked
If you’re taking baclofen or any prescription muscle relaxers, be sure to take them exactly as prescribed. If you experience any adverse side effects while taking a prescription medication, speak to your doctor about adjusting your dose or other alternatives.
Help for Baclofen Addiction
Baclofen addiction can be difficult to recover from without the help of addiction specialists. Our nationwide detox programs are designed to help patients safely recover from withdrawal symptoms and overcome drug cravings to increase their chances of long-term sobriety.
We recommend that those who are seeking to quit baclofen or any other prescription medication undergo medically monitored detox at one of our Banyan rehab locations to avoid adverse reactions. We also offer a variety of substance abuse services, including outpatient and inpatient drug treatment, to help clients understand their conditions and develop the skills necessary to sustain a sober lifestyle outside of rehab.
For more information about our mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities and services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.
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