baclofen side effects

Baclofen Side Effects

In the 2000s, a medication called baclofen gained popularity as a safe and effective treatment for alcohol use disorder. This muscle relaxant alters the release of neurotransmitters to reduce electrical activity in the central nervous system, specifically within the brain and spinal cord. If you are interested in taking baclofen to help you stop drinking, here’s what you need to know about how it works and what you can expect.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptom Management

If you are physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, it can be challenging to quit drinking because alcohol mimics the effects of neurotransmitters in your brain. Without the presence of alcohol, your brain will become imbalanced. This struggle to regain equilibrium results in withdrawal.  

Typical acute withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

The most dangerous side effect of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens, which can involve potentially fatal symptoms like seizures and hallucinations. Because withdrawing can be so unpleasant, many people who try an at-home detox eventually return to substance abuse.

What Is Baclofen?

Baclofen is a selective gamma-aminobutyric acid-B receptor agonist, which means it works to ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms and help people manage cravings. If you want to get sober, taking baclofen under medical supervision can be beneficial.

Since baclofen is a muscle relaxer, it can make you feel extremely drowsy. You may also experience dizziness, headaches, dry mouth or vision problems. While you are taking baclofen, alert your doctor about any changes to eye or skin color, breathing difficulties or increased muscle spasms.

If you take baclofen for alcoholism, you’ll need to avoid other depressants like benzodiazepines, sleep medications, opioids and barbiturates. Combining baclofen and alcohol can cause serious side effects like impaired motor skills, memory problems and dangerously slowed breathing. It is also possible to overdose on baclofen and alcohol.

Baclofen Benefits

Baclofen can be helpful for people withdrawing from alcohol. Some research shows baclofen is significantly better than other treatments at reducing alcohol cravings, which can be especially strong during the early stages of withdrawal. Using baclofen can make your detoxification process more comfortable, so you can stabilize and move into the next phase of treatment.

Without alcohol as a crutch to help them relax, people who struggle with anxiety disorders can feel overwhelmed and experience insomnia and panic attacks. As a muscle relaxer, baclofen can also help ease the anxiety that comes with alcohol addiction and withdrawal.

Cutting-Edge Treatment Customized for You

Recovery Without Walls delivers proven treatment for substance use disorder, chronic pain and mental health issues. Members of our medical team stay abreast of the latest advancements in addiction medicine, and our use of baclofen for alcoholism represents one of our many innovative offerings. After your initial evaluation, our team will create a tailored plan that fits your unique needs and situation. To learn more about our internationally informed approach, contact our office today.