So earlier this month I was approached by AddictionHelper (also known as UK Rehab as pictured to the left) about them providing some sponsored content and they suggested the subject of Baclofen. I have written only one post about this medication that you can read here. And then serendipitously someone in the UK who had recently used Baclofen successfully (and will be 1 year sober on 1st January 2017) left a comment on that blog post and wanted to speak more about their experience. So I put the two in touch and here is the result 🙂
Baclofen: A new remedy for alcoholism?
Baclofen is a medication used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. Over the last decade, however, it has been put to the test in different quarters as a treatment for alcoholism.
The increase in the frequency of baclofen usage can be attributed to the fact that it has shown a proclivity for reducing withdrawal symptoms in alcoholic individuals. Presently, baclofen is still used in the treatment of alcoholism in an “off-label” manner (use outside regulatory approved boundaries). However, trials over the last decade, point to the possible removal of the “off-label” tag.
Related studies on baclofen and alcohol relationship
Many baclofen related studies have been completed in the past. One of such studies shows that only high doses of baclofen can lead to the desired indifference towards alcohol. Another study highlighted the relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed before treatment and the right dosage required by patients to achieve desired results.
Bacloville is one of the main studies that have been done on the drug. The study was conducted at the Paris Descartes University and led by Philippe Jaury. During the study, high doses of baclofen (average of 160mg per day), was administered to 320 volunteers aged 18-65 over a twelve-month period. 56.8% of the subjects on baclofen decreased their consumption to normal levels or became abstinent at the end of the period. 36.5% of subjects who were given placebos posted similar results.
The latest study at the Paul Brousse hospital, led by Michel Reynaud featured 320 subjects who were already abstinent for 20 weeks. They were given baclofen at 153mg per day. The results were less than stellar. Only 11.9% of subjects taking Baclofen remained alcohol-free while 10.5% of those on placebo did (Note from Lou: daily recommended maximum dose of Baclofen is 100mg within the UK).
While the evidence exists about the efficacy of baclofen in the treatment of alcoholism, addiction experts believe that it may not be a definitive solution for a while yet. Although clinical trials have been positive, more data is required to come to a conclusive agreement. Many, however, agree that baclofen has a higher chance of ensuring positive results in individuals that are more severely dependent on alcohol.
Side effects of baclofen
A study revealed that 88% of patients reported at least one undesirable side-effect as a result of baclofen usage. In some cases, the severity of the side-effects led to the cessation of baclofen-based treatment.
Some of the common side effects of baclofen include memory loss weight loss or gain, dysphoria, bowel disorder, sensory alterations, fatigue, sleepiness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, paraesthesia, decrease or increase of libido, different forms of pain among other symptoms. There have been some documented cases of seizures and breathing problems as a more serious side effect.
The result of the baclofen-induced chemical alterations in the brain can equally lead to reduced efficacy of other vital medications in use by an individual. Contraindications include psychological conditions, epilepsy, ulcers and heart-related ailments.
The dosage is decreased strategically, to combat the adverse effects of baclofen, over a two-week period with the aid of a qualified medical personal.
The effects of baclofen on alcoholism may be inconclusive, but past results make it a worthy option for alcoholics seeking remedy from their condition. However, baclofen based treatments for alcohol must only be administered by qualified professionals to avoid debilitating side effects that could prove fatal.
Personal Experience of Baclofen C Allan
I read about Baclofen and Olivier Ameison on the web-forum mywayout,org, an American based site covering most areas of alcoholism and the various methods of over coming this disease – I am not a “meeting” type of guy and indeed the thought of a meeting worried me as it would “interfere with my “drinking schedule” as every meet would be a driver away
Following a TIA in March 2015 – My Neurologist informed me that I had to make a considerable change to my personal circumstances, in particular my diet and my alcohol intake needed to improve – The results of the TIA are not noticeable externally, however there are occasions when my motor skills are confused, for instance I have to think before I can react to left and right handed commands (it is a bit like being spoken to in a foreign language and having to translate it first) and I also tend to type a lot of my words with letters the wrong way around – For instance I just wrote tpye instead of type
Having read many clinical trials papers following up on Ameison’s personal findings and the titration schedule as drawn up by French Physicians I started my initial titration on 20th December 2015 – On the 2nd January I stopped drinking, full stop, this was surprisingly easy, bearing in mind I had over the past 3+ decades consumed the equivalent to 180 units a week as I learned to pass out from the 220-250 a week unit intake I consumed at my peak – I put this solely down to Baclofen as I had tried (oh so) many times with self control – My Baclofen dosage at this time was 60mg a day. This dose was not sufficient to prevent my cravings so I continued titrating until I reached 180mg a day when my cravings ceased – As had the anxiety that I thought was a usual thing that on reflection had been the catalyst to my epic drinking history – It is moot as to whether or not Baclofen has reduced my anxiety or if the lack of alcohol has effected this – I suspect a little of both although without Baclofen, I could not have stopped drinking – Chicken and egg scenario
Anyway, I titrated up as per the French Physicians Guide (Translated by my friend David Harris), although I was not drinking against my will, I noticed a distinct lack of anxiety – I suffered this compulsively, some of the anxieties I had are on reflection, quite laughable now – At the time I did not realise that this was not normal – I thought everyone fet this way – I use an analogy to describe the feeling
It is like having a car, over the years the suspension becomes soft and saggy – You only notice how bad it has become when you replace the suspension – Because of the gradual effect of the loss of performance – My anxiety mirrored this
I was luck to make some good friends, mainly in the US, one in particular, who is IMO, a leading knowledge in Baclofen for AUD having correlated vast amounts of information and trial data over the years – He himself is an alcoholic, in remission thanks to Baclofen
I approached my GP in the early part of my titration and explained to her what my plan was – I had in the past I had heard some bad stories about GP’s reaction to non prescription medication, indeed one girl from Kent had been told to “find another GP” – My GP was terrific, she asked me to send her some information and as she could clearly see at that stage (BP and weight down) she even intimated she may even prescribe “off label” – So I took her up on her offer and sent her basically everything I could find on Baclofen
I went back to see her four months later and she was pleased with what she saw (BP perfect and 5 stone shed) – She then prescribed me my maintenance dose of 150mg a day by prescription – It was not a financial issue, the prescription, it was the recognition by the medical profession that Baclofen has a place in alcoholism – The French, who do prescribe Baclofen for AUD are generally limited to 100mg a day with therapy – She was keen to prescribe Baclofen to her other patients – Currently I suggested this may not be a good idea for reasons I may elaborate on at another time when i have some more time
So today I am indifferent to alcohol, I can drink coffee while the others get drunk – I don’t currently need alcohol to make me someone different – 150mg a day, with a NHS prescription and the support of my GP – Cannot get much better than that.
Thank you to Mark from AddictionHelper (and Chris Allan) for this content. I can’t advise on the use of Baclofen or the best rehabilitation for you, if that is what you need, so please do contact UK rehab who will be able to help.