Last reviewed by Miljan Krcobic on August 25th, 2018.
What is baclofen?
Baclofen is a gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) derivative used as a skeletal muscle relaxant which stimulates GABA-B receptors leading to decreased frequency and amplitude of muscle spasms. Baclofen is beneficial in treating muscle spasticity associated with spinal cord injury and treat symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis (such as spasm, pain, and stiffness) and diseases of spinal cord). This medication is available in powder suspension as well as tablet form and is available on doctor’s prescription.
You should not stop the administration of baclofen abruptly as you may suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
What is baclofen used for?
Baclofen is used to treat muscle spasms and to reduce the symptoms of spasticity that may be resulting from multiple sclerosis. The symptoms include relief of flexor spasms, concomitant pain, and muscle rigidity.
How baclofen works in the body?
Baclofen works as direct agonist at GABA-B receptors. The exact mechanism of the baclofen is not known. At the spinal level, it is capable of inhibiting monosynaptic and polysynaptic reflexes as well. It occurs due to hyperpolyrization of afferent terminals, although its clinical effect is also contributed by actions at supraspinal sites.
Can baclofen makes you ‘’high’’?
Baclofen is known to cause drowsiness therefore some people abuse this medication for a “high” narcotic like action. The high dose increase the risk of overdose associated with recreational use of baclofen. The overdose of baclofen can cause severe side effects such as coma.
Baclofen ‘’high’’ experience
Currently, I use baclofen primarily to control anxiety. It is impossible for me to know whether symptoms of dependence would reoccur, and at which lower dosage, since I have not contemplated weaning myself off baclofen. Would conscious cognition that I have remained indifferent to alcohol for several months modify my behavioral response if symptoms were to reoccur? I believe that the new situation created by baclofen-mediated suppression of symptoms of alcohol dependence offers a window of opportunity to explore the effects of other approaches, such as CBT (Chronic Behavioral Therapy), in helping reduce or suppress requirement for life-long baclofen treatment. Moreover, the necessity for life-long baclofen treatment could be studied in the newly described addiction model in rats (Deroche-Gamonet et al., 2004).
Can I take baclofen with alcohol?
Baclofen should never be administered with alcohol. Baclofen can interact with other medication you are taking, or other medications can also interact with baclofen. Therefore concurrent administration of certain medication along with baclofen is prohibitory. You should always let your doctor know about the other over the counter, supplements, vitamins or any other prescription medications that you are already taking.
You should not drink alcohol while taking baclofen because that can worsen side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. Because baclofen relaxes muscles, it may cause weakness and imbalance, especially if you have muscle stiffness. Talk to your doctor about how baclofen may affect your balance.
Is baclofen a narcotic?
Baclofen is not a narcotic or an addictive drug. But, if stopped abruptly, it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. You should never stop this medication before prior consent to the doctor as the severe cases of withdrawal can be fatal.
Baclofen at high doses produce calming effects, therefore some people use this medication other than prescribed and start abusing it. The dangers of abusing the baclofen increase when abusers take this medication along with other drugs which depress the central nervous system and thereby increase the risk of side effects from the drug.
Baclofen is abused with alcohol, sleeping pills, or other muscle relaxants, which is excessively harmful. They should never be administered altogether, because the concurrent administration of baclofen and other central nervous depressant agents can result in weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, or even imbalance. You should also be aware of the fact that chronic or severe baclofen abuse can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Side effects of abuse
Abusing baclofen can lead to a range of side effects, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Central nervous system depression
If the user takes other CNS depressants or alcohol in addition to baclofen, it can exacerbate the high and result in profound dizziness and drowsiness.
How long baclofen stay in your system?
The half life of baclofen is 2-4 hours therefore it stays for almost 10 -20 hours in your body or you can say; it will be completely eliminated from your body in almost 10-20 hours.
What to do in case of overdose of baclofen?
Baclofen effectively reduces the frequency and severity of muscle spasms. Despite its therapeutic utility, a user can overdose by taking too much baclofen, the effects of which, one study discovered, were coma, slowed breathing, respiratory arrest, heart muscle conduction disturbances, seizures and slowed heart rate.
Try to keep the person calm, who has overdosed the baclofen. You can also follow these steps:
- You should check the breathing of the person, if they are not breathing, start the cardio pulmonary resuscitation. If the person is unconscious, and still breathing, try to make them into recovery position.
- If the person just had an overdose of baclofen, and getting seizures, prevent them from self injuring. You can help them by lying down in area and place a cushion behind their head.
Baclofen abuse treatment
You should seek a treatment if you or someone you are close to, is struggling with baclofen abuse. You should take some steps forward in order to lead a healthy and drug free life. If you are abusing baclofen with other drugs like opioids or alcohol, you should seek treatment for the underlying cause of your addiction with the help of therapy, group counseling, relapse prevention and aftercare.
Detox: It is the first step in treating a substance use disorder. In this process, you should not stop baclofen immediately; instead you should slowly wean yourself of baclofen. This will help your body to adjust the dosage of baclofen and get back to its previous state with normal functioning. A healthcare provider will evaluate your condition, once you get stabilized, in order to transfer you to next step of the treatment.
Inpatient treatment: You will receive intensive treatment such as individual therapy, medication management, and group therapy. You need to live in the healthcare clinic throughout your program with all treatment facilities.
Residential treatment: This treatment can last for 1 month to 1 year or even more. Such treatment is given when your substance use disorder is serious.
Outpatient: Here you can seek regular treatment by visiting the health clinic on daily basis. Outpatient treatments mainly include group therapy, counseling, and meditation management.
Support group: Many support groups available to you before, during, and after treatment. There is a group called 12-step groups which work as great supplement to any treatment program.
Aftercare: After getting rid from the substance addiction, living a healthcare life is at most important. You should engage yourself in aftercare therapy (regularly seeing a therapist or following a 12-step program) that works best for you.
What is Intrathecal baclofen pump? How they are responsible for baclofen withdrawal syndrome?
Intrathecal baclofen pump has been used effectively in patients suffering from severe spasticity and who are unresponsive to pharmacotherapy. It is also beneficial in patients who develop intolerable side effects at minimal or therapeutic doses of baclofen. IF intrathecal pump deliver an incorrect dose of baclofen, it may cause drowsiness, headache, nausea, muscle weakness, light-headedness, and return of spasticity.
Intrathecal baclofen also cause withdrawal symptom which may pose life-threatening complication of baclofen that may be caused by abrupt withdrawal of baclofen, however, this condition is very rare.
Baclofen is a widely used and effective medication for the treatment of spasticity.
Since 1960, Baclofen is used as a oral formulation in order to treat spasticity and improvement in spasms in around 70% to 96% of patients. In patients with spasticity of spinal origin unresponsive to maximal doses of oral antispasmodics, the intrathecal route of administration has been found to be very effective.
Intrathecal route proves more beneficial in ensuring higher cerebrospinal fluid concentrations as compared to the oral route because such concentrations are very difficult to maintain in case of oral route. The abrupt withdrawal from intrathecal administration of baclofen has resulted in poor outcomes, whereas the withdrawal following oral administration of baclofen is not much harmful also not even much recognized.
When central nervous system levels of baclofen decline after a short period of time, the baclofen withdrawal symptoms may develop. The clinical symptoms that present after oral baclofen is stopped are usually associated with intentional drug cessation without adequate attention to weaning the dose. If a dose of 60mg/day is stopped abruptly or without weaning, one can see the withdrawal symptoms that developed after 48 hours of abrupt discontinuation.
The patient developed an altered mental state that required readmission and, ultimately, another stay within the intensive care unit. Her symptoms were resistant to all measures to increase her alertness and respiratory effort until her oral baclofen was reinstated and her symptoms quickly resolved.
Does baclofen shows on 10 panel drug and other drug tests?
Baclofen belongs to the class of organic compounds known as gamma amino acids and derivatives. These are amino acids having a (-NH2) group attached to the gamma carbon atom. It is a gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) derivative used as a skeletal muscle relaxant. Is non-narcotic drug.
Baclofen can’t be detected in 10 panel drug test and other commercial drug tests such as: single panel urine tests, single panel spice urine test, 12 panel drug test and others. These drug test can identify only narcotic drugs, cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, & Quaaludes.
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