Baclofen Withdrawal, Timeline, and Treatment

For people who have certain medical concerns, baclofen can be a source of considerable relief. But when someone becomes addicted to this medication, baclofen withdrawal symptoms can be a barrier between the despair of compulsive substance abuse and the hope and promise of a healthy drug-free future.

What Is Baclofen?

Baclofen is a prescription medication that is categorized as a skeletal muscle relaxant, or a muscle relaxer. Baclofen is the generic name for this medication. In the United States, it is sold under several brand names, including Lioresal, Lyvispah, Ozobax, and Gablofen. 

Baclofen is most commonly prescribed to patients who have multiple sclerosis or certain spinal injuries. The medication can ease pain, reduce stiffness, and relieve spasms and cramping. 

Baclofen is sometimes also incorporated into medication-assisted treatment for people who have become addicted to alcohol or opiates, as it can ease drug cravings and some other withdrawal symptoms.

It is usually taken by mouth, either as a tablet or liquid. It can also be administered via an implanted intrathecal pump.

Signs of Baclofen Abuse and Addiction

When a person uses baclofen as directed by the prescribing physician – either to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis and spinal injuries or to ease drug cravings – their risk of addiction may be low. If they abuse the medication, the likelihood that they will become dependent on it can increase considerably.

The following signs could indicate that a person has been abusing baclofen:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired coordination

When a person’s abuse of baclofen morphs from an unhealthy behavior into a compulsion, they may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Dramatic changes in mood, mindset, attitude, and energy
  • Powerful urges to use baclofen
  • Trying to buy, borrow, or steal baclofen that had been prescribed to someone else
  • Visiting several doctors and lying about their symptoms in order to get multiple prescriptions (an illicit practice that is commonly referred to as “doctor shopping”)
  • Downturn in their performance at work or in school
  • Using baclofen in ways that are particularly dangerous, such as taking the drug in combination with alcohol or other mind-altering substances
  • Continuing to abuse baclofen even after incurring harm as a result of prior use
  • Failing to meeting their personal, academic, or work-related responsibilities
  • Developing tolerance, or needing to use larger doses of baclofen to experience the effects that they are seeking
  • Experiencing physical and/or psychological distress when they abruptly try to end their baclofen use

The final symptom above refers to baclofen withdrawal symptoms, which can keep a person trapped in active addiction. We will address this aspect of baclofen addiction in greater detail in the next section. 

Baclofen Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone becomes addicted to baclofen or any other substance, their system adapts to the presence of the drug. When this individual is prevented from using the drug, or if they try to stop using it on their own, their body may respond with a variety of painful symptoms.

As we alluded to in the previous section, the pain that these symptoms can cause (and the knowledge that they can be alleviated if the person resumes their substance abuse) can derail a person’s efforts to end their baclofen use.

The following are examples of common baclofen withdrawal symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Seizure
  • Tachycardia (dangerously fast heart rate)
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Anxiety 
  • Confusion and disorientation

The timeline of baclofen withdrawal can vary from person to person. Some people begin to develop symptoms within a few hours, while for others it may take a day before symptoms begin to arise. Once baclofen withdrawal symptoms appear, they usually increase in intensity over a 72-hour period. After this peak, symptoms typically begin to subside, becoming less intense over the next few days.

The intensity and potential harm of baclofen withdrawal symptoms can make it extremely difficult for a person to stop abusing this drug on their own. However, when someone receives effective professional care that includes detoxification, they can rid their body of this dangerous substance and begin to build a healthier future, free from compulsive baclofen abuse.

Treatment Options for Baclofen Addiction

When someone has become addicted to baclofen, several factors can influence which type of treatment would be best for them. These factors can include:

  • Their age, gender, and treatment history
  • How long they’ve been abusing the drug, and how much they have been using
  • The severity of their baclofen withdrawal symptoms
  • The degree to which their addiction has impacted their life
  • If they have also been abusing or become addicted to other substances
  • If they have any co-occurring mental health concerns

Depending on these and other factors, the patient’s ideal path to recovery may involve one, several, or all of the following programs:

  • Detoxification
  • Residential rehab
  • Partial hospitalization program (Day Treatment)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Outpatient treatment

Within these programs, treatment for dependence on baclofen may include multiple forms of therapy, including:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Rational emotive therapy (RET)
  • Trauma therapy
  • Experiential and mindfulness therapy
  • Ego-modifying therapy

There’s no single program, type of therapy, or treatment plan that works for everyone. What’s most important is finding a reputable provider that will assess your needs and develop a customized course of treatment, just for you.

Find Treatment for Baclofen Addiction in Worcester, Massachusetts

If you have become addicted to baclofen or another prescription medication, Lake Avenue Recovery is here to help. Our drug rehab center in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a trusted source of customized outpatient addiction treatment. We also serve patients whose struggles with substance abuse are accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other co-occurring mental health concerns.

When you are trapped in the downward spiral of active addiction, it can feel like there’s no escape. Please know that this is not true. When you get the care you need, you can start living the healthier and more hopeful life you deserve. With the guidance and support of our experienced treatment professionals, you can overcome your self-defeating urges and build a solid foundation for lifelong recovery.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call us today. We look forward to answering all your questions and helping you determine if Lake Avenue Recovery is the perfect place for you.