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Baclofen for Alcohol Withdrawal


empyr3al
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I'm curious if anyone has tried this instead of the traditional Diazepam.  I seem to recall reading papers about it being effective.  Whether its a seizure prevention I don't know but does it work and how quantities of intake affect it.

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I've been through it with my wife.  She was being treated by a senior doctor several years ago and he advised that baclofen is equally good for withdrawal as diazapam.  The advantage of baclofen is that it is safer than diazapam because most of it is eliminated by the kidneys, so it doesn't affect the liver.   My wife has used it several times to deal with withdrawal symptoms.   However, there's not a lot of research or support in relation to using baclofen for this purpose.  Diazapam is still the "gold standard" among doctors for controlling AWS and that's what you are going to be told by virtually all doctors in the field to use for withdrawal.  You simply won't find a doctor who uses baclofen for this purpose and you would then be left to self administer and figure out the dosage yourself, with no medical backup.  

The problem, however, in using diazapam is that you can't keep using diazapam for this purpose.  It becomes less effective with each withdrawal and you risk becoming cross-addicted to diazapam as well as alcohol, which is a problem for many long time alcoholics.  We had a nurse coming to the house administering diazapam after one relapse several years go.  The routine is to start with 90mg a day spread through the day and reduce the dosage each day over the course of about a week.  

I'm not a doctor and I don't have any idea of how one would properly use baclofen to control AWS but what I would say is that AWS comes from the philosophy that one has to stop drinking, get through withdrawals, be sober, then work on underlying "conditions", whatever they are, in order to beat alcoholism, without any further medical treatment, except perhaps something like Campral (which is pretty useless).   Baclofen is not intended to be used as a drug to control AWS.  The whole idea of taking baclofen is to taper up until you reach a switch. That way, you don't go through AWS, because you don't withdraw suddenly.  Essentially, you are tapering off so the alcohol you drink is dealing with "withdrawal" and it's ok to continue drinking until your system adjusts to lower levels of intake and you replace it with baclofen, which "medicates" you the same way alcohol does.  That's not an entirely correct way, scientifically, to put it but I hope you get the point.  You wouldn't use baclofen to help AWS because you would not withdraw if you were being treated with baclofen.

There are some people who have taken huge doses of baclofen straight away..."go big or go home".   I don't know if they immediately stopped drinking but I hadn't heard that they went through AWS.   We tried using baclofen to come off alcohol and it does slow down drinking if it is taken in large doses during a binge.  This is a very controversial thing to do and should only be done in a hospital, in my opinion, and no hospital would do this.  Our problem was that my wife was so far gone when we tried this that she did, indeed, stop drinking but then did not continue taking baclofen and was hit by baclofen withdrawal and AWS which made her start drinking again.  

 

Edited by Otter
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