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24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice
24 hours rehab

Call Now for Immediate Confidential Help and Advice 02038 115 619

24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice

Baclofen Explained

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen – sold under various brand names including Lioresal, Liofen, Gablofen, Beklo, Baclodol, Flexibac, Gablofen, Kemstro, Lyflex, Clofen, Muslofen, Bacloren, Baklofen,Sclerofen and others – is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and skeletal muscle relaxant, with the chemical synonym β-(4-chlorophenyl)-γ-aminobutyric acid (β-(4-chlorophenyl)-GABA). It is taken orally, and is a prescription-only medicine in the UK.

What is Baclofen Used to Treat?

Baclofen is primarily used to treat muscle contractions and spasticity – a combination of paralysis, hypertonia and increased tendon reflex activity, often described as an unusual tightness or “pull” of muscles – especially in cases of cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and some spinal cord injuries. It is also increasingly used in the treatment of alcoholism, in particular alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

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Why use Baclofen for Alcoholism

Baclofen’s use as a treatment for alcoholism is a relatively recent development and research is still ongoing into its efficacy in this area. Baclofen’s effects on GABA receptors in the brain have been seen to help reduce cravings and lessen the impact of withdrawal symptoms in alcohol addicts who have stopped drinking; it may also assist people in remaining abstinent entirely. It also helps reduce anxiety, which is often a trigger for alcoholics.

How do Medications for Addiction Treatment Work?

Baclofen works by activating the GABAb receptor in the brain; it acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, preventing the release of chemicals known as excitatory transmitters (chemical messengers which transmit signals across synapses in the brain). In cases of addiction, past a certain level of tolerance some systems in the brain – including the reward systems – are unable to function normally without the presence in the brain of the relevant substance of abuse. Baclofen’s action upon GABA receptors helps to normalise the function of these systems, which can help reduce cravings and ameliorate withdrawal symptoms resulting from cessation of use of the substance in question.

Is Baclofen Effective at Treating Addiction?

While, as noted, baclofen has only comparatively recently begun to be used as a treatment for addiction – in particular, alcoholism, though it is also being studied as a treatment for other disorders including cocaine addiction – it has been seen to reduce cravings and lessen the impact of withdrawal symptoms. Studies have shown that alcohol addicts receiving baclofen are typically able to abstain from drinking for significantly longer periods than those not receiving the drug.

Principles of Effective Baclofen Addiction Treatment

Baclofen should be provided as part of a holistic addiction treatment programme also including therapy, dietary and fitness regimes and other elements, perhaps as part of a stay in residential rehabilitation (rehab). It should only be taken according to the instructions given on prescription; in particular, using baclofen for more than a couple of months may result in dependence, possibly causing withdrawal syndrome with a wide range of symptoms resembling those of benzodiazepine withdrawal. At a recommended dose baclofen does not produce euphoric or other pleasant effects which could encourage its abuse as a recreational drug, nor is it known to possess addictive qualities.
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Baclofen Combined with Addiction Therapy

Although baclofen can reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms, its use will not address any of the underlying causes of addiction, and upon ceasing baclofen treatment an affected individual will therefore be highly likely to succumb once more to addiction. As a result, baclofen – like any other addiction medication – should be prescribed as part of an integrated addiction treatment programme including therapy aimed at uncovering and addressing the fundamental causes of addiction and at providing the addict with defence mechanisms against relapse.

What are the Side Effects of Baclofen?

Potential side effects of baclofen consumption include fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, weakness, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation and urinary retention.

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If you are struggling under the burden of addiction – to alcohol or any other substance of abuse – only you can take the first step towards freedom by acknowledging your addiction and reaching out for help; no treatment can be successful if you do not truly wish to be treated.

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If you are ready to ask for help, there are now an array of facilities across the UK treating addicts like yourself. Speak with your GP and/or an addiction specialist today to discuss what treatment may be appropriate for you.

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If you are an addict you may feel as though you have lost control of your life – but you can regain that control by getting help for your addiction. Speak with your GP and/or an addiction specialist as soon as possible and take the first step on the path back to health and happiness.

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