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Baclofen for Alcohol Addiction

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iStock_000022899517_SmallModern addiction treatment recognizes that addiction to drugs and alcohol has both biological and psychological causes. In the past, the only treatment that was really available for alcoholism was attending Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings. The philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous is that addiction to alcohol is a spiritual disease. However, this is simply not true for everyone. AA does not address the biology of addiction. AA does not recognize the brain receptors and reward pathways that are involved in addiction. Fortunately, science and medicine has given us this information. With this knowledge, we now have medications that can be very effective in helping people to stop or reduce their drinking. Baclofen is one of those medications.

EFFECTIVENESS OF BACLOFEN

Olivier Ameison, MD, is a French-American physician who discovered baclofen as treatment for alcohol addiction. He put his disease into remission by self-prescribing the medication. Dr. Ameison then wrote a book,”The End of My Addiction”, which detailed his discovery, treatment, and remission of his alcoholism. The most effective medication that I prescribe for alcoholism is baclofen. I continue to be amazed by how effective this medication is for many people who identify themselves as alcoholics or heavy drinkers. Many patients who start baclofen describe a complete loss of cravings, as well as a complete indifference to alcohol. About half of the patients for whom I prescribe baclofen stop drinking completely within the first few days of starting the medication. Other patients significantly reduce their drinking to a healthier level. I have also found it to be helpful for some patients who want to comfortably moderate their drinking, as opposed to completely abstain, as their goal for the treatment of their alcoholism.

BACLOFEN TREATS ANXIETY AND THE DOPAMINE REWARD SYSTEM IN THE BRAIN

Baclofen is actually a muscle relaxant that has been around for a long time. It works for the treatment of alcoholism in two ways. First, it treats anxiety by acting on the GABA-B receptor. Alcohol and sedatives such as Valium both stimulate the GABA-A receptor. Stimulation of GABA-A or GABA-B receptors causes the anti-anxiety and calming effects of alcohol. Second, baclofen attenuates the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric and rewarding effects of alcohol. GABA-B receptors and dopamine receptors in the reward pathway of the brain are intertwined. This gives baclofen a very unique mechanism of action, and is the reason such dramatic results can be seen when treating patients who identify as alcoholics or heavy drinkers.

AFTER WORK DRINKING

There are many people who are addicted to alcohol that drink in large part to diminish their anxiety and high stress levels. Many high functioning people with busy lives and stressful jobs will not drink during the workday. However, drinking will start immediately after work, and continue until they pass out from the large quantity of alcohol that was consumed. Baclofen works by treating their symptoms without the intoxication of alcohol. With this type of biological treatment for alcoholism, patients are able to stop drinking, and feel good at the same time.

If you would like more information about baclofen, please call for a free phone consultation at (646) 713-6578.

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