Is Baclofen Addictive or a Treatment for Addiction?
The professional addiction treatment community is always on the lookout for new, more reliable ways of treating substance use disorders, and research is continually ongoing into various means of medical support for treatment. One of the tools that has been researched and used in the past two decades is a drug called baclofen.
While bacolofen has benefits in the treatment of addiction, it does carry a risk of side effects and addiction potential. Our guide will help you learn more about baclofen, its uses, side effects, and how to find addiction treatment for you or a loved one.
What Is Baclofen?
Baclofen was originally designed to treat epileptic seizures. While it had limited effect on the seizures themselves, it did prove to be helpful in decreasing muscle spasms, and it is therefore used to manage spasms related to cerebral palsy and spinal cord diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). It is thought to do this through activating the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system, which helps to relax and calm nerves.
Since then, the drug has been found useful to treat other conditions, including mental health disorders. While these are considered off-label uses, the drug has been gaining traction as a potential treatment for substance use disorders, and it has been researched for treating alcoholism and addiction to opioid medications and cocaine.
Baclofen for Addiction Treatment
Baclofen is indicated in a variety of different areas of addiction treatment, and it may be able to be used for others.
- Alcohol: Studies from as far back as 2000, like one from Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research, have demonstrated potential for using baclofen to aid in reducing alcohol cravings. More recently, a study demonstrated that very high doses of baclofen may be particularly helpful in suppressing alcohol cravings.
- Opioid drugs: Baclofen has also been used to manage detox and provide maintenance treatment in opioid addiction. The results of this study were that individuals on baclofen were much more likely to remain in addiction treatment and maintenance than those who were not taking it.
- Cocaine: Similarly, a study from Neuropsychopharmacology revealed that people recovering from cocaine addiction were more likely to decrease self-administration of cocaine when not taking baclofen, and reported reductions in cravings for cocaine if they were taking baclofen concurrently.
All of the research above indicates that baclofen can be a helpful tool supporting treatment of substance use disorders. However, there are also some risks in using it that both treating professionals and individuals who might want to use it should be aware of first.
Issues with Treating Addiction with Baclofen
It is important to emphasize that baclofen, while it may be useful in supporting addiction treatment, is not a standalone solution to managing substance use disorders. The drug can help diminish cravings and make it easier to avoid relapse to substance use, but it is necessary to provide complementary therapy and other treatments to help the individual.
There are also side effects of taking baclofen that need to be considered before the individual undergoes treatment with this medication. These side effects include difficulty breathing, seizures, and suicidal ideation. If these side effects are experienced, medical help should be obtained right away.
Other side effects that are not as bad but can be uncomfortable include:
- Upset stomach.
- Drowsiness or dizziness.
Because some of the side effects can be dangerous, it is important to obtain input and oversight from a medical professional before using baclofen to treat addiction. If the side effects for the individual are severe, it may counter any craving reductions or other substance abuse benefit the drug might provide. It also may be risky to the individual’s health.
Addiction Potential of Baclofen
While there is minimal data on whether baclofen is addictive, there is some evidence that indicates baclofen addiction may be possible. Similar to reports of addiction to gabapentin from a variety of sources, euphoric sensations were reported when taking the drug, and reactions to stopping baclofen use that included classic withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Physical tremors.
- Cravings for the substance.
- Angry outbursts.
Baclofen withdrawal symptoms are usually an indication that the body has developed a dependence on a drug, and compulsive use of higher doses than needed, which can lead to tolerance, is also a sign of possible addiction to the drug.
More information and research are needed to confirm that addiction may be a risk with this drug. Luckily, there are other ways to treat addiction that research has shown to be helpful in managing addiction, including psychological and peer support group programs.
Benefits of Professional Addiction Treatment
Ultimately, drug and alcohol addiction treatment is more likely to contribute to remission of substance use disorders when the person is provided with multiple tools to treat the condition. Baclofen can be a useful tool when used as part of an integrated approach to treatment that includes medical supervision and other tools, such as research-based therapies and peer support.
These elements of substance use disorder treatment not only help a person learn how to manage triggers and cravings that lead to relapse, but also help the individual develop external support systems and inner confidence that improve the person’s ability to remain in recovery on a long-term basis. For this reason, it is helpful to get professional treatment through a certified, experienced treatment program.
Finding Addiction Treatment in South Florida
If you find yourself struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, or know someone who does, there is help. At our drug and alcohol rehab in Hollywood, FL the addiction treatment specialists at Recovery First are ready to help you find lasting and meaningful recovery.
We work with you to develop customized treatment plans for your specific needs and goals, using evidence-based therapeutic interventions. Contact our helpful and knowledgeable admissions navigators at to learn more information about our different levels of care, ways to pay for addiction treatment, and our features and amenities. You can also quickly verify your insurance coverage by