Baclofen is an FDA-approved muscle relaxer that also shows promise in treating alcohol addiction. By acting on the nervous system – specifically, a neurotransmitter called GABA – it can ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms and help people manage cravings.
Like most prescription medications, baclofen has various side effects and drug interactions you should be aware of. Before taking this drug for any reason, speak with your general practitioner and pharmacist and provide them with an up-to-date list of any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take regularly. They can help you understand what to avoid while you are on baclofen.
You should not drink alcohol while taking muscle relaxers, especially if your goal in using baclofen is to quit drinking. Since baclofen and alcohol both act upon the central nervous system, combining them can compound unpleasant side effects like confusion, dizziness, weakness, slowed speech and trouble concentrating.
Opioids like Oxycontin, Vicodin and morphine are painkillers that can be effective when taken for short periods under a doctor’s supervision. However, taking opioids alongside other drugs can have severe side effects, including accidental overdose. Since opioids cause brain functions to slow down, the most common cause of death from an overdose is respiratory failure.
If your doctor prescribes you an opioid, it’s wise to have naloxone (brand name Narcan) on hand at all times to reverse the effects of an overdose. You can get this opioid antagonist at your local pharmacy without a prescription.
Your doctor may prescribe you a benzodiazepine such as Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan if you struggle with mental health conditions like anxiety or panic disorder. Like opioid drugs, benzos can slow down your brain function and can cause labored or shallow breathing.
If you take benzodiazepines, check with your health provider before starting baclofen. They may recommend tapering off your anxiety medications or adjusting the dose. Don’t make sudden changes to your medication regimen without talking to your prescriber, as abruptly stopping benzos can be dangerous.
4. Sleep Aids
Prescription and OTC sleep medications like Ambien and Unisom can cause excessive drowsiness when combined with baclofen. Even some medications that aren’t specifically to help people sleep, but still cause sleepiness as a side effect, can also have risky drug interactions with baclofen. If you take these medications and want to start baclofen, let your doctor know. They may recommend a drug-free insomnia remedy.
6. Other Muscle Relaxers
Baclofen is not the only muscle relaxer available. These prescription drugs do not all have the same chemical structure or work the same way in the brain. Still, they act upon the central nervous system and have sedative properties. If you take multiple different muscle relaxers at once, you should know that the drug interactions can amplify effects like disorientation and dizziness.
Get a Tailored Treatment Plan to Help You Stop Drinking
Recovery Without Walls delivers proven treatment for substance abuse, chronic pain and mental health issues. Our experienced professional team stays up to date on the cutting edge of addiction medicine, and our use of baclofen to treat alcohol use disorder is an example of our willingness to innovate and evolve. After evaluating your needs, we will customize an approach that meets you where you are. Reach out to us today to learn about how we can help you overcome a drinking problem.