Baclofen Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
Baclofen is a prescription drug classified as a muscle relaxer and antispasmodic agent. It’s typically given to patients experiencing muscle stiffness and tightness due to conditions such as spinal cord injuries and diseases.
Because of the nature of baclofen, it can be addicting. A person prescribed baclofen may begin misusing it over time to strengthen its effects. Those without a prescription for baclofen may obtain it and take it because it relieves pain and relaxes the body, which can lead to feelings of elatedness in large quantities.
If you or someone you know is misusing baclofen, it’s important to understand the side effects, dangers, and treatment options for baclofen abuse. Zinnia Healing can help. Please call us at (855) 430-9439 or use our website to learn more.
What is Baclofen?
Baclofen is an antispasmodic agent, which is why it’s prescribed for certain types of muscle tightness and muscle stiffness called spasticity. It’s available in both a tablet and liquid form taken orally or an injectable form, which has the strongest effects.
Baclofen is being explored as an “opioid replacement” because it has similar pain-relieving qualities to opioids, although it doesn’t interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. However, it’s important to note that baclofen is not a pain killer. Instead, baclofen only relieves the severe pain associated with certain muscle conditions.
In large quantities, baclofen can lead to pleasurable feelings similar to those created by drinking alcohol, which is why it can be addicting. Baclofen is not a controlled substance in the United States, however, baclofen misuse can be dangerous.
Why Do People Take Baclofen?
Baclofen may be prescribed for a variety of conditions that result in muscle stiffness and tightness, including spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.
In recent years, medical professionals have also been prescribing baclofen for “off-label” purposes. This means that, while the FDA has approved baclofen for treating the above conditions, it’s also prescribed to treat conditions not yet approved by the FDA.
Some off-label uses for baclofen include supporting the recovery of people who previously misused tobacco, alcohol, and certain drugs. However, because they are recovering from addictions, these people are at a higher risk of misusing baclofen, which is why it needs to be closely monitored.
What Are The Benefits of Baclofen?
When prescribed by a physician and monitored closely, baclofen can support positive health outcomes. Here are some positive effects of baclofen:
- Relaxes muscles and relieves stiffness, tension, cramping, and the associated pain.
- Prevents muscle spasms by blocking the signals sent by the central nervous system (CNS).
- Reduces anxiety due to its anxiolytic effect, which is currently being studied for the treatment of PTSD and other disorders.
- Elevates mood and is believed to have an energizing effect, which is why it’s being explored for depression.
It’s important to note that baclofen can be dangerous when misused, and baclofen addiction should be taken seriously.
Effects of Baclofen Abuse
Using baclofen, even as prescribed, can lead to unpleasant side effects, but the effects associated with substance abuse tend to be more severe. Some side effects of baclofen abuse you might experience include:
- Feeling dizzy and/or weak, to the point where you may have difficulty being physically active.
- Being extremely tired but also suffering from insomnia (inability to sleep) at the same time.
- Feeling confused with difficulty focusing, which can make performing at work or school harder.
- Having the urge to urinate more frequently than normal. You may also feel constipated or nauseated.
- Seeing or hearing things that do not exist. This is something you should immediately bring up to a medical professional.
Headaches, seizures, and other side effects are also associated with substance use disorders like baclofen misuse. However, this drug affects everyone differently, and the side effects may be more severe when combining baclofen with other medications, such as antidepressants.
Drug use always requires medical supervision. Without it, individuals risk severe and possibly permanent side effects. In the case of baclofen, kidney damage, liver disease, and memory impairment are just some outcomes that could permanently impact your quality of life with baclofen misuse.
Symptoms of Baclofen Withdrawal
The withdrawal period is when your brain and body adjust to not having baclofen in your system. The withdrawal process can be uncomfortable both physically and mentally. In fact, it can cause relapse because of the intense side effects and cravings that most people experience during withdrawal.
The baclofen withdrawal symptoms may include severe side effects and can be life-threatening. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that anyone experiencing misuse of baclofen undergo medication-assisted treatment, starting with medical detox.
Baclofen withdrawal tends to be more severe for those who took high doses of baclofen and/or those who use the injectable form of baclofen. With that in mind, some symptoms you might experience during withdrawal include:
- Stiff muscles
- Low blood pressure
- Itchy skin
Tapering off of baclofen while in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program is important. Quitting baclofen “cold turkey” could lead to more severe side effects, including:
- Rapid muscle breakdown
You don’t have to go through withdrawal alone. Going through withdrawal at a treatment center can help you get through it safely, and health care professionals may also prescribe medications and therapies to make the process more comfortable for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about the withdrawal process and your options for a medical detox, call our team at (855) 430-9439 and take the first steps to design your custom program.
Outcomes of Baclofen Overdose
One of the biggest risks of baclofen is that it’s easy to overdose on it. People in the withdrawal process and relapse are at a higher risk of overdose.
Just 100 mg of baclofen can lead to toxicity in the body. Taking more than 200 mg of baclofen can worsen the chance of life-threatening outcomes. If you take too much baclofen over a short period, you might be at risk of an overdose, which is characterized by:
- General side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and weakness.
- Critical changes, such as slowed breathing and/or slowed heart rate.
- Sudden emergencies such as a coma or seizures.
- Permanent side effects such as brain damage or kidney failure.
As with any other type of drug abuse, too much baclofen can also lead to sudden death. This is why seeking addiction treatment is critical to protecting your well-being and ensuring a safe recovery.
Treatment Programs for Baclofen Abuse
Several treatment levels are available, depending on the severity of your addiction. Understanding your options is important to make sure you get the help you need for successful addiction recovery.
Intensive Inpatient Treatment
Intensive inpatient treatment, also known as “medically managed” treatment, is considered the highest level of care for addiction treatment. This type of program generally only lasts a few weeks, and it’s meant to help you through the most critical, dangerous parts of recovery known as the withdrawal period.
Intensive inpatient treatment means you’ll be admitted to a hospital where you will get 24/7 medical supervision and care. Once you complete the program, you’ll spend time at either a residential facility or an outpatient program to get the continued support you need to prevent relapse and ensure your success.
Residential treatment programs offer 24/7 assistance just like an inpatient program. The difference is that a residential recovery center cannot provide the same medical treatment that a hospital can. Instead, a residential recovery center might have a large team of therapists and specialists who can create a customized treatment program based on your needs.
Generally, enrolling in a residential treatment facility requires a commitment of 21 days or more. Most often, residential treatment is suggested as a transitional option after an inpatient program. However, you might go straight to residential treatment if your care team decides that intensive inpatient care isn’t necessary.
Residential treatment is often preferred to the outpatient alternatives because of the around-the-clock care and support provided. You’ll be in a home-like setting with specialists and like-minded people, and it’s often a better environment for your mental health. This is especially true for those who don’t have a strong support system at home.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Intensive outpatient care is a step down from a residential facility because you’ll be at home or in a sober living environment most of the time. With this plan, you’ll be asked to check in with medical professionals multiple times a week. Your care plan might include individual and group therapies, specialist visits, and more.
The biggest challenge with an intensive outpatient program is that it requires a strong support system, a healthy home environment, and the ability to get to and from multiple appointments. These programs generally last for a few months.
Outpatient treatment is considered the least intensive level of care. With outpatient treatment, you may be asked to attend therapy sessions throughout the week and have regular appointments with your healthcare providers. However, it is much less structured than a partial hospitalization program.
Some people thrive with the flexibility that outpatient programs provide, especially if they have a lot of friends and family around to help them stick to their treatment plan. On the other hand, those with environmental triggers at home and/or lack of strong support will likely need a higher level of care.
Addiction Treatment Therapies
Regardless of the type of treatment program you choose to enroll in, a variety of therapies will support you both physically and mentally. As part of a long-term care plan, like one provided by a residential facility, you may also be enrolled in re-skilling programs that will help you transition into the workforce and lead an independent life.
Some of the most common addiction treatment therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is based on the theory that addiction is caused by unhealthy coping methods, thought patterns, and learned behaviors. Therefore, CBT works to help you relearn and restructure your ways of thinking, behaviors, and coping methods to be more positive.
- Motivational Interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a more casual therapy where a counselor meets with you to provide motivation and support. They may help by talking you through your goals, thoughts, and challenges each week, and offering advice to help you stay on track.
- Family Therapy: Creating a healthy support network is important for addiction recovery and preventing relapse, which is why family therapy often comes into the equation. Family therapy may help you discover new reasons for your drug addiction and help your family learn how to best support you.
- Alternative Medicine: As part of your care plan, you may be introduced to alternative therapies, such as massage therapy, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. These therapies can be used to manage the physical and mental strain of the recovery process. They might be used to manage pain, anxiety, and other conditions without the use of medication.
- Aftercare: Aftercare programs provide ongoing support once you have left a treatment facility or completed your treatment program. You might participate in aftercare for months or years after completing treatment to prevent relapse, connect with others on their addiction recovery journeys, and help you continue setting and reaching new goals.
Ultimately, your care plan should be customized to meet your needs. Don’t hesitate to speak with a provider and ask them about the proven methods they use and the best ways they could be applied based on your circumstances.
Seeking treatment for baclofen abuse may not be easy, but avoiding the severe and dangerous side effects of misuse, overdose, and withdrawal is essential. If you’re looking for a trusted team of providers who can help guide you toward the right treatment plan, Zinnia Healing can help.
Contact Zinnia Healing today to explore how we help people overcome baclofen addiction and take the first steps towards your recovery. Our team is just a phone call away at (855) 430-9439 or, if you prefer, you can use our website to reach out. We look forward to hearing from you!