Baclofen- is it useful for alcohol addiction?

Addiction is a brain disease that involves changes to brain structure and function. That is why a decision to stop using is so often ineffective and psychological treatments are only part of the solution. So are there any drugs that help?

Ameisen, a French Cardiologist who moved to New York as an Associate professor in cardiology and had to be treated in the same hospital accident and emergency for alcohol induced seizures! He tried every psychological approach, peer-support group and traditional medications such as Naltrexone, Disulfiram and Campral. He then discovered that in rats a well-known medication for muscle spasm Baclofen, had reduced alcohol cravings. In desperation he tried it on himself and it worked. Far from being an out of control alcoholic he was able to return to normal and save his career. He was so impressed he wrote a book “The End of my Addiction”.

I have been using baclofen for over 5 years with many patients. Whilst it is not a panacea in some patients it is amazingly effective. Additionally, it is safe and mainly excreted through the kidneys. It also reduces anxiety.  It does not cross the blood brain barrier easily, so some people need higher dosage.

Read more about it on an Emergency Physician’s website. Dr Amanda Stevenson works at Royal Perth Hospital and has used it with indigenous patients attending Accident and Emergency. She is so impressed with Baclofen that she created a website to encourage its use, www.baclofentreatment.com. Check it out for yourself !

by Dr Zelko Mustac

 

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