Baclofen Withdrawal

Dr. Drew Sutton MD

This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Drew Sutton MD

Baclofen is a prescription, GABA classified muscle relaxer. The precise mechanism of action is not fully understood. However, it inhibits reflexes at the spinal level by decreasing the responses to stimuli. It helps treat multiple sclerosis by relieving spasms and concomitant pain, clonus, and muscular rigidity. Dosing is gradual for treating spasticity.

  • Most people can take it safely for muscle spasms, anxiety, and relaxation by sticking to the recommended doses.

Side effects

While many people don’t experience any side effects at all while taking it, others may deal with the following: Here is a list of some of the possible side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Slower Rate of Talking
  • Slurred Speech
  • Dizzy
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Memory Problems
  • Delirium
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Physical weakness
  • Dizziness

Also, it can result in mood changes or mental symptoms, including hallucinations, confusion, and depression.

Withdrawal

Abruptly stopping the taking of baclofen in any form or manner can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. They may be life-threatening and clinically severe. These can include changes in mental status.

Withdrawal from baclofen can be unpleasant in the extreme, which is why doctors and pharmacists recommend tapering off the drug gradually. If you try to stop taking it cold turkey, you can experience symptoms including:

  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea

If any of these symptoms manifest, call 911 immediately. By tapering off use, you can avoid most of these withdrawal symptoms.

  • If you or anyone ceases taking baclofen, ALWAYS do it under a doctor’s care.

GABA

According to Wikipedia, “GABA’s principal role in the human brain is to reduce neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. In humans, GABA is also directly responsible for regulating muscle tone.

GABA is an amino acid chemical found in the human brain. Its primary purpose is to regulate nervousness and excitability—various GABA-based, commercial drugs for controlling the Central Nervous System.

It is a CNS depressant.

Being a form of CNS depressant, in general, someone abusing it may seem “Out of it.”

Dose

Dosage generally starts with 5 mg. Doctors often start patients on low doses, around 5 mg, gradually increasing as you become accustomed to the side effects.

Kidney

Because it is primarily excreted unchanged through the kidneys, it can cause kidney problems if not appropriately dosed.

It is also used in topical creams to help reduce pain and muscle spasms. Some drugs can cause serious drug interactions. Two examples are:

1) Acetaminophen or hydrocodone

2) calcium/magnesium/potassium/sodium

Getting high

Because it is so effective, some people use it off-label for relaxation, anxiety or depression, or to get high. However, it is not considered addictive and should not result in cravings.

Here are some of the ways people use it to get high:

  • Taking more than a prescribed dosage
  • Snorting lines of pulverized pill powder
  • Smoking powder (in tobacco or marijuana, etc.)
  • Injecting it Into liquid form

The high people get from it doesn’t involve extreme euphoria. It does aid people to chill out, squash any anxiety, and feel relaxed. Some people who have problems with alcohol, cocaine, and other addictive substances find that it relaxes them so much that they no longer crave those drugs.

Precautions

1) Take with food to avoid stomach upset.

2) Abrupt drug discontinuation has resulted in adverse reactions that include hallucinations, seizures, high fever, altered mental status, exaggerated rebound spasticity, and muscle rigidity, that in rare cases has advanced to rhabdomyolysis, multiple organ-system failure, and death.

3) Possible exacerbation of psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, or confusional state.

4) Patients should avoid the operation of automobiles or other dangerous machinery until they know how the drug affects them; advise patients that the central nervous system effects may be addictive to those of alcohol and other CNS depressants.

Storage

Store the tablet form of this medication at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store it in the bathroom. Store the liquid form in the refrigerator. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

In the same way, you should gradually taper off to avoid any withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and hallucinations. If you experience these withdrawal symptoms, let your doctor know right away.

Overdoses can result in vomiting, difficulty breathing, seizures, and even death. One of the dangers is its affordability, which may lead people to abuse it, mainly because its sedative effects can be pleasurable.

Alcoholism

In some studies, higher doses have shown remarkable promise for treating alcohol dependence. In addition, it treats spasticity in neurologic disorders such as cerebral palsy and complex regional pain syndrome.