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Baclofen Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

Baclofen Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment
Baclofen is a muscle relaxant sold under brand names Lioresal and Gablofen. It’s used to treat spinal cord injuries and symptoms of cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Baclofen is a derivative of the naturally occurring GABA neurotransmitter, which reduces nerve activity in the central nervous system. Due to its effects on the brain – which are like those of alcohol – abuse and dependence are potential risks of long-term use. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of baclofen withdrawal to ensure that proper treatment is received if needed.  

What Are the Symptoms of Baclofen Withdrawal?

Some people may experience a sense of well-being and calm when taking baclofen. Signs of baclofen abuse may include taking higher doses than prescribed, using it with other depressants to increase its effects, or using it without a prescription. 

Dependence and addiction can occur as a result of long-term baclofen abuse or misuse. Symptoms of baclofen withdrawal are the most common indicators of drug abuse, as they normally occur in people who have developed a tolerance for and dependence on the drug. 

Drug tolerance occurs when someone’s brain and body become accustomed to a certain dose of the substance. Dependence then results from increased tolerance, in which the brain can’t function “normally” when the person isn’t using the drug. 

Withdrawals from baclofen can occur both in people who use the drug as prescribed for long periods and in people who misuse the drug to get high. These symptoms can be like those of benzodiazepines and alcohol withdrawal, mainly because both substances interact with GABA in the brain. 

A person is more likely to go through baclofen withdrawals if they’ve been using it for several months. Withdrawal can also occur in those who use a low or high dose, as symptoms mostly depend on the length of time the person has been using the medication. 

If someone suddenly stops using baclofen, withdrawals can be severe. Common baclofen withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Changes in perception
  • Hyperthermia
  • Depersonalization (the feeling of being disconnected from one’s body and thoughts)
  • Psychosis
  • Increased energy and hyperactivity
  • Mood swings
  • Tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats per minute)
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Muscle rigidity and spasticity

Rebound symptoms of the ailments the medication is meant to treat, such as muscle rigidity and spasticity, can occur during baclofen withdrawal. It’s important not to stop taking this medication without the guidance of your doctor. 

How Long Do Baclofen Withdrawals Last?

The baclofen withdrawal timeline depends on various factors, including the person’s normal dose and how long they’ve been taking the medication. The longer someone has used baclofen, the more severe and long-lasting their withdrawals may be. Another relevant factor in the duration of baclofen withdrawals is how the person stopped using the drug. 

While gradually tapering off drugs or weaning the individual slowly by reducing doses over a certain period is recommended, those who attempt to stop using baclofen “cold turkey” may experience more serious symptoms. In fact, doing this can actually cause advanced withdrawal, which in some cases can lead to organ failure and death. 

While the timeline varies, baclofen withdrawal symptoms can start within a few hours after the last dose is taken or may take up to 48 hours to begin. Symptoms will usually peak at 72 hours or after three days 

and gradually subside as time passes. For some people, baclofen withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks, and symptoms like anxiety can persist for months. 

Treatment of Baclofen Withdrawal

Anytime someone wants to stop using a medication, they should be aware of the withdrawal symptoms that could occur. Due to the possible severity of baclofen withdrawals, a professional medically monitored detox is recommended. Some of the most severe symptoms of baclofen withdrawal – such as seizures, hallucinations, and organ failure – can be avoided and properly treated with professional baclofen detox. 

Banyan’s detox programs are all led by our medical team, during which patients are offered 24-hour care and medical intervention (as needed), to alleviate any discomfort or pain associated with detox symptoms. We ensure that our patients remain as safe and comfortable as possible during detox to reduce their likelihood of relapse and help them abstain from the substance in question. 

Following detox, patients may also be assessed for any underlying mental health or substance use disorders they may have. Mental illness and addiction often co-occur, and in such cases, we offer dual diagnosis treatment to make sure that both are addressed. 

Baclofen detox should not be attempted at home. For questions about medical detox or the substance abuse services offered at our drug and alcohol treatment centers, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763. 

Related Reading: Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers The Effects of Alcohol on Muscles & Joints
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.