Baclofen is a common muscle relaxant that is used to treat back pain and spasms. But this drug may have other uses.
Several studies have been done in recent years to test whether baclofen might be useful in helping to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). Although the drug is not yet approved for this use in the U.S., there have been some promising results from the trials and studies.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about baclofen’s potential role in alcohol addiction treatment.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a very common disease wherein a person drinks alcohol without being able to control themselves. In the U.S., it is estimated that 15 million people live with AUD. In fact, almost 6% of adults in the U.S. live with AUD!
Alcohol addiction looks different in everyone. In order to officially qualify as having an addiction, you must answer ‘yes’ to at least 2 of the following 11 questions, which apply only to the past 12 months:
In the past year, have you:
- Wanted to stop drinking or tried to cut down, but were unable to?
- Ended up drinking more or for longer than you had meant to?
- Spent a significant amount of your time drinking or recovering from drinking?
- Felt a strong desire to drink?
- Noticed negative effects at work, in family life, or at school as a result of drinking?
- Kept drinking even if you noticed that your relationships were suffering?
- Given up hobbies or activities for drinking?
- Gotten into dangerous situations while drinking?
- Felt depressed, anxious, or otherwise unhealthy because of your drinking but kept drinking anyway?
- Noticed a higher alcohol tolerance?
- Noticed withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking?
Most people who have an addiction to alcohol do not seek help. Professional alcohol addiction treatment is the only safe way to handle AUD.
What Role Does Medication Play in Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
Many elements must come together to form a complete alcohol addiction treatment plan. A lot of people find success without using medication. Others only use medication during the detox phase. Many people in recovery from AUD use medication for several months.
Your doctors and addiction specialists at your rehab center will help you decide whether medication is right for your recovery.
Currently, there are 3 drugs available that are approved to help with AUD. They are disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. All these drugs work in different ways.
Disulfiram makes users very sick if they drink even a small amount of alcohol. Naltrexone works by blocking certain receptors in the brain – thus reducing cravings. Finally, disulfiram works to help reduce discomfort during the detox phase.
Although these drugs exist to help with alcohol addiction, they are not as effective as many would like, and they come with many downsides. A safe, widely effective drug to help treat AUD would be a huge game-changer in the fight against this disease.
What Is Baclofen and Can It Help With Alcohol Addiction?
Baclofen is a drug that has been around for decades and has been used to treat muscle spasms and back pain. Recently, several studies and trials, mostly in Europe, have shown that baclofen might help in treating AUD.
Studies About Baclofen and AUD
Several clinical studies have been done to test whether baclofen can treat AUD. The results from these studies have been quite mixed, with some showing that baclofen is very effective and others showing little or no effect.
Overall, the studies have shown that baclofen is likely to be more effective in treating AUD when given at higher doses. Of course, when a drug is given at high doses the risk of side effects increases.
As a result of the studies, many doctors in Europe and Australia are prescribing baclofen as an alcohol addiction treatment—but only in certain situations. Usually, baclofen is prescribed when the other main, approved drugs fail to help with AUD.
Baclofen and Liver Disease
Alcohol is very hard on the liver. Many AUD patients suffer from liver disease. The current drugs available for treating AUD are mainly processed by the liver—meaning they can’t be used safely by people with liver disease.
Baclofen is much safer for people with liver disease. Doctors in Europe and Australia commonly choose baclofen over other drugs in cases that involve someone with AUD and liver disease.
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction
If you are curious about using baclofen to treat alcohol addiction, call our treatment center to talk to our specialists.
Alcohol addiction is no joke. If you or someone you love is suffering from AUD, call Northeast Addiction Treatment Center now. We can help you to turn your life around, even when it seems like hope is lost.