Baclofen for Alcohol Abuse: Learn the Dangers

Mixing Baclofen and alcohol is a dangerous and sometimes deadly combination. Combining the two can cause impaired motor function, decreased cognitive abilities, extreme sedation, addiction, and even death. It is imperative to seek help if you abuse both substances to alleviate the risks. 

Baclofen does not get a person “high,” so it seems an odd choice to become addicted too. Studies have shown that Baclofen can be useful in treating alcohol withdrawal. There is much debate over Baclofen’s effectiveness in the treatment of alcoholism. But, there is conclusive evidence of the dangers of combining both alcohol and Baclofen. 

Why Mix Alcohol and Baclofen?

Baclofen and alcohol are both depressants. Depressants lower the neurotransmission levels in the brain, which creates a mellow, relaxed feeling. Some people like the feeling the alcohol brings along with the muscle relaxation from the Baclofen. Combining the two may make a person feel good, but the risks far outweigh the feeling. 

People may mix Baclofen and alcohol because a doctor prescribed Baclofen for alcohol withdrawal. Yes, studies have shown that Baclofen can affect alcohol withdrawal. But, this gives people the misconception that they can drink heavily and not have a hangover or overdose. 

Any combination of alcohol and Baclofen can be dangerous. Combining the two can be even more critical when the two are used to create a pleasurable effect. This can lead to addiction and consuming more substantial quantities of both substances. 

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen is a prescription drug used primarily to treat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease, and spinal cord injuries. Baclofen works by depressing the Central Nervous System and relaxing the muscles. Baclofen can alleviate pain, reduce muscle spasms, and allow for greater mobility. 

Baclofen is not the first line of defense for certain issues, such as lower back pain, due to abuse and side effects. Baclofen is usually prescribed for short term use to try to minimize the risk of addiction. 

Side effects of Baclofen include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Overly tired

Symptoms of baclofen overdose include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Convulsions
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Pale or blue lips

When used under the supervision of a physician and taken as prescribed, Baclofen is typically safe. But when combined with alcohol can have serious side effects. 

The Dangers of Mixing Baclofen and Alcohol

Side effects of mixing Baclofen and alcohol include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Higher risk of seizures
  • Higher risk of overdose
  • Dangerously slow breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual behavior
  • Memory problems

One of the most significant issues with combining alcohol and Baclofen is motor impairment and the lack of coordination. The mixture of alcohol and Baclofen can make it difficult to walk or even stand up. This can cause a person to fall and result in serious injuries.

Impairment of motor skills can make it dangerous to operate a vehicle. When used alone, both alcohol and Baclofen cause adverse effects on reaction time and decision making. Mixing the two and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle can be hazardous and even deadly for you and an innocent victim. 

The intense sedation effects of combining Baclofen and alcohol put a person at a higher risk of overdose. One in five ER visits related to the misuse of alcohol and muscle relaxers such as Baclofen. Overdose from combining the two can be so severe that it turns fatal. It is vital to seek treatment if you think a loved one or yourself are overdosing on alcohol and Baclofen.

Is Baclofen Addictive?

Muscle relaxers such as Baclofen can be addictive. Abusing Baclofen and abusing alcohol puts a person at a higher risk of addiction. Alcohol alone affects a person’s ability to think clearly. Because of the inability to make smart choices, it can be easy to use another drug or consume more than usual. These behaviors increase the risk of addiction. 

Withdrawal from alcohol and Baclofen should only be done in a medical detox environment. The withdrawal symptoms can become severe and can lead to death. Stopping Baclofen or alcohol cold turkey can be even more dangerous for people who have been abusing substances for an extended period of time. 

Serious withdrawal symptoms of Baclofen and alcohol include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Breathing problems
  • Mental disturbances
  • Aggravation of spastic conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Tremors
  • Severe anxiety

How Does Baclofen Treat Alcoholism?

The intended result of prescribing Baclofen for alcoholism is to reduce cravings and replace the compulsion to drink with a choice to drink. Baclofen makes the brain act like a non-addicted brain. A person can still face triggers, but they do not bring on thoughts of drinking.

People who do not have an addiction to alcohol are not aware of the number of drinking cues there are in daily life. You see alcohol advertised on billboards, sporting events, and magazines. Characters on tv are drinking alcohol, and there are bars on every corner. Every social event has alcohol; it is everywhere. 

Those without an addiction to alcohol do not notice the signs. But someone with an alcohol addiction sees every sign no matter how small. Resisting the urge to drink is a constant mental fight demanding a lot of willpower not to give in and drink.

Baclofen Treats Anxiety in Alcohol Addiction

Baclofen also helps with anxiety in people with alcohol addiction. A person who is suffering from alcohol addiction and severe anxiety find it more challenging to get sober. Alcohol is the go-to substance when someone feels anxious. 

Alcohol gives immediate relief to anxiety. But that is a false sense of relief. Over time, reaching for alcohol to relieve anxiety can lead to addiction. One drink use to work, but now it takes three or four. 

For people who have anxiety, quitting alcohol feels like the worst panic attack. Without alcohol to run to, all the problems alcohol hid, come to the surface. Facing both the anxiety and the issues can be too much to handle. Sustaining sobriety can be difficult, especially when adding the stress of life. 

By reducing anxiety and cravings, Baclofen can reduce relapse. Baclofen has stopped the endless cycle of addiction and relapse in those with alcohol addiction. Baclofen has helped many people take control of their life and continue a life of sobriety. 

Treatment for Alcohol and Baclofen Abuse

If used as prescribed, most people do not risk becoming addicted to Baclofen. But that is not the case for everyone. Maybe you were prescribed Baclofen to aid with muscle spasticity but hid the fact that you drink daily. Perhaps you tried to beat an addiction to alcohol and were prescribed Baclofen to help, but instead, you are abusing both. Whatever led you to abuse alcohol, and Baclofen is not the concern at the moment. What is important is that you get help.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

If you have tried to stop drinking and the cravings are so bad it causes you to relapse, Baclofen may help. People have reported that without Baclofen, they would still be addicted to alcohol. If you choose to use Baclofen, the safest way is while in an inpatient program. 

Detoxing from alcohol is extremely dangerous and is advised to do so in a medical detox program. The symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on how long and how much you have been consuming alcohol. People who only drink occasionally will not usually have withdrawal symptoms. 

Treating just the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol does not fix the core problem. If you do not seek treatment after medical detox, then you continue the vicious cycle of relapse. Doctors and nurses at a medical detox facility can help you get into a treatment program. 

Treatment for Baclofen Addiction

As already mentioned, Baclofen is prescribed to ease the treatment of alcohol addiction. Some people have found it useful in their sobriety. While other people have learned that taken in high doses can give them a feeling of being ”high.” This is why inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction is the best option.

Inpatient treatment provides 24-hour medical supervision and medication management. This cuts down on the health risks that Baclofen has to a person. Baclofen also reduces the chances of taking more than prescribed and overdosing. 

It can be complicated to identify Baclofen abuse. Baclofen is used for so many issues that it makes it hard to know if the signs of abuse are from Baclofen or other substances. There are a few tell-tell signs when it comes to Baclofen abuse which includes:

  • Visible symptoms of withdrawal without it.
  • Mixing it with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Doctor shopping – having more than one doctor prescribe it.
  • Taking it in large amounts and more often.

Footprints to Recovery Can Help Beat Addiction

At Footprints to Recovery we understand that every patient is as unique as their addiction. We offer a comprehensive overall approach to treatment. After your initial assessment, you and the group of doctors will develop a formal treatment plan. Together, you will decide the best program to help you achieve a life of sobriety. Call today and let our caring staff help you start a new life. 

Stephanie Ballard, LPC, CADC

Currently attending The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Business Psychology PhD Program with an emphasis in Consulting. Graduate of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology's Masters of Arts in Clinical Counseling Program with an emphasis in Addiction.

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