Drug and Alcohol

Baclofen: A Closer Look at the Risks of Muscle Relaxant Abuse

What is Baclofen?

Is baclofen addictive? In our blog, we examine this muscle relaxer that's often utilized in drug and alcohol treatment. Learn more in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

September 27, 2023

Os baclofen addictive? That’s a great question.

It’s definitely a drug many people struggling with addiction come in contact with. Used to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and opioid withdrawal, this muscle relaxant has helped many through the difficulties of withdrawal.

Like other muscle relaxants, it can be addictive for some. Since it’s a drug many encounter when they’re in treatment for addiction, recognizing the signs and symptoms of baclofen abuse is important for both patients and professionals alike.

What Is Baclofen?

Baclofen is a prescription drug that belongs to the muscle relaxant family of medications. Doctors commonly prescribe it to individuals suffering from muscular spasms or tightness. Brand names for baclofen in the US include Fleqsuvy, Lyvispah, and Ozobax.

It’s available in tablet, packet, solution, and even suspension form, which is a liquid solution with small pieces of a drug in it.

How Does Baclofen Work?

Baclofen acts on the central nervous system. This includes the brain and spinal cord. It targets the spinal cord, a specific portion of the neurological system, where it works on certain receptors to diminish nerve cell activity. Baclofen helps to relax muscles and minimize muscular spasms by doing so.

So, what is the importance of muscular relaxation? Assume you're playing sports, and your leg muscle cramps or tightens up. It can be uncomfortable and make movement difficult. This is where baclofen comes into play. It helps relax hyperactive nerves in the spinal cord, letting your muscles relax and easing spasms or stiffness.

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Is Baclofen Addictive?

It's common for some people to have a fear of becoming addicted when taking certain medications, and it's important to understand the potential risks associated with any drug you take. So, let’s dive into whether or not baclofen is addictive.

Baclofen is not regarded as highly addictive. However, some people may develop dependency or experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it abruptly after an extended period. Compared to opioids or benzodiazepines, the risk of addiction or dependency with Baclofen is often reduced.

Individuals using Baclofen for a long time may have withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking it. Anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, increased muscular spasms, and, in rare circumstances, hallucinations or seizures are among the symptoms. When stopping Baclofen, it is typically suggested to gradually lower the dosage under supervision to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

What's the Difference Between Abuse and Addiction?

It's important to understand the difference between abuse and addiction when it comes to any medication. Abuse is taking a drug without your doctor’s prescription, or not taking it as prescribed. Addiction is a chronic brain disorder, characterized by compulsive usage of drugs despite the negative consequences associated with it.

When it comes to baclofen, some people may have a fear of becoming addicted because it is often prescribed off-label for the treatment of alcohol abuse and opioid addiction. It's important to note that baclofen isn't being used in an addictive way to treat these conditions, but instead as an aid in managing withdrawal symptoms.

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What Are the Risks of Taking Baclofen?

Although there is no significant evidence that baclofen is addictive, there are still risks associated with taking it. As with any medication, there can be side effects that range from mild to serious.

Some of the more common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking baclofen, contact your doctor right away.

In rare cases, baclofen can cause severe allergic reactions, seizures, and slowed breathing that require medical attention. Be sure to contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms while taking baclofen.

What Is Baclofen Used For?

Baclofen is frequently recommended for individuals who have multiple sclerosis. It is a disorder that damages the nerves & can cause muscular spasms. It can also aid those who suffer spinal cord injuries or cerebral palsy. This affects muscle control and movement.

Baclofen is prescribed for a variety of medical conditions and uses. Let's look at the most common baclofen uses.

Muscle Spasms

It is often used to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and other neurological conditions. It helps in muscular relaxation and lowers the frequency and intensity of spasms, allowing for greater movement and comfort.


Spasticity is defined as involuntary muscular contractions, stiffness, and tightness. Baclofen is frequently used to treat spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke, and cerebral palsy. It promotes mobility and range of motion while reducing muscular tone.

Alcohol Addiction

Baclofen has been investigated as a possible therapy for alcoholism. It is supposed to help reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms by influencing particular brain receptors implicated in addiction. While research in this area is still underway, baclofen may be considered a possibility for certain people who are addicted to alcohol.

Neuropathic Pain

Chronic pain caused by nerve damage or dysfunction is called neuropathic pain. Baclofen is occasionally used as an adjuvant drug to treat neuropathic pain. It can be taken alone or with other pain drugs for pain relief.

Off-Label Uses

Baclofen is sometimes used off-label for applications not expressly approved by regulatory bodies but based on clinical judgment and medical data. Off-label use for baclofen includes facial pain, restless leg syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, and mental diseases.

Other Uses for Baclofen

In addition to the principal uses already listed, baclofen is also used for the following.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

It can be administered to help lessen the frequency & intensity of symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. It works by relaxing the esophageal muscles, lowering stomach acid reflux, and treating symptoms such as heartburn.

Tourette Syndrome

Baclofen has demonstrated some efficacy in treating Tourette Syndrome tics, a neurological disease marked by repeated, involuntary movements or vocalizations. It may help lower the intensity and duration of tics, relieving those suffering from the condition.

Migraine Headaches

Baclofen has been investigated as a potential therapy option for some forms of migraines, notably those that cause muscular tension. It can help in muscular relaxation and reduce the intensity and duration of attacks of migraines.

Cocaine and Opioid Addiction

Baclofen has been studied as a possible medicine for lowering cravings and withdrawal symptoms in those addicted to cocaine or caught up in opioid addiction. While further study is needed, preliminary data shows that it may have a role in treating drug use disorders.

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Is Baclofen a Controlled Substance?

Baclofen is not a controlled substance in most countries, including the United States. Controlled substances are medications or drugs that have the potential for misuse or addiction and are closely restricted by law in their distribution and usage. These substances are classified into schedules or classes depending on their abuse potential, medicinal use, and the level of dependency they can develop.

As a muscle relaxant medicine, baclofen has a lower risk for misuse or addiction than other substances. It relaxes muscles mainly through the central nervous system. It does not cause the same euphoric effects as regulated medications such as opioids or benzodiazepines.

Laws and classifications may differ from one country to the other. baclofen is not typically considered a prohibited substance. However, it is always a good idea to check local laws to know the legal status of baclofen in a particular region or nation.

Baclofen Side Effects

Baclofen has side effects, like many other drugs.

Common Side Effects of Baclofen

Some of the common side effects of baclofen include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue: Baclofen can produce drowsiness or extreme sleepiness; therefore, avoid tasks requiring attention, such as driving or operating equipment.

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded: Some people may suffer dizziness or lightheadedness, especially upon rising from a sitting or laying posture. Changing postures with caution can help prevent falls.

  • Weakness or tiredness: Baclofen may cause sensations of weakness or tiredness. Rest as required and avoid activities that involve significant physical movement.

  • Headaches: Although headaches are a possible side effect of Baclofen, they are usually mild and temporary.

  • Nausea or stomach discomfort: Baclofen can occasionally produce nausea or stomach discomfort. Taking the medication with food or modifying your dosing schedule may help lessen these effects.

  • Constipation: Baclofen can cause constipation, relieved with a fiber-rich diet, increased fluid intake, and light physical exercise.

  • Dry mouth: While using baclofen, some people may have a dry mouth. This side effect can be minimized by practicing proper dental hygiene and staying hydrated.

  • Increased urination or difficulty urinating: Baclofen can affect bladder function, causing frequent urination or difficulties emptying the bladder. 

  • Insomnia or sleep disorders: Baclofen can potentially interrupt normal sleep patterns, resulting in insomnia or changes in sleep quality.

Less Common Side Effects of Baclofen

Baclofen has some side effects that are less common. They include:

  • Disorientation or confusion: Some people can experience confusion or disorientation when using baclofen, especially at larger dosages or in elderly individuals.

  • Depression or mood swings: Baclofen has the potential to change the mood and cause symptoms of depression. 

  • Impaired coordination or unsteadiness: Baclofen can affect coordination and balance in certain people, causing instability or trouble walking. 

  • Tremors or muscle weakness: Baclofen's muscle-relaxing effects might occasionally produce muscular weakness or tremors. 

  • Vision shifts: Baclofen may induce visual disturbances or blurred vision in rare circumstances. 

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing: Baclofen can impair respiratory function, especially in people with respiratory problems. 

  • Allergic reactions: While allergic responses to Baclofen are uncommon, they might emerge as a rash, itching, swelling, or trouble breathing. 

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How Long Does Baclofen Stay in Your System?

A drug’s half-life is how long it takes for half of a dose to leave a person’s system. Baclofen has a relatively short half-life of between two to six hours. Baclofen is mostly removed via urination.

Individual characteristics such as age, liver function, kidney function, and overall health can all affect baclofen elimination. Individuals who use intrathecal administration, in which the medicine is administered directly into the spinal canal through a pump, may have a varied duration of baclofen in the system.

Baclofen Interactions with Other Medications

Baclofen may interact with the following medications:

Central Nervous System Depressants

When baclofen is used with sedatives, tranquilizers, opioids, or alcohol, the risk of serious sedation, sleepiness, respiratory depression, and impaired coordination increases.

Antihypertensive Medications

When coupled with antihypertensive medicines, the blood pressure-lowering effects of baclofen can be increased, potentially resulting in serious hypotension. 

Antidepressants & Antipsychotics

It may interact with antidepressants & antipsychotics, causing drowsiness or muscular stiffness. 

Anti-Seizure Medications

Baclofen may reduce the efficacy of certain anti-seizure medications or raise the risk of seizures. 

Should I Avoid Mixing Baclofen with Certain Drugs?

Yes, baclofen shouldn’t be mixed with certain substances. They include:


When baclofen is used with alcohol, it can cause sedation, sleepiness, and poor coordination.


Caffeine and other stimulants, along with certain medications, can counteract the sedative effects of baclofen. Individual reactions may differ, so proceed with caution.

What Are Common Baclofen Withdrawal Symptoms?

Baclofen withdrawal can occur if the medicine is abruptly stopped after a long usage period or if the dose is drastically lowered without sufficient medical monitoring. The intensity of baclofen withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Rebound Spasticity

Baclofen is generally used to treat muscular spasticity, and abrupt discontinuation can increase muscle stiffness, tightness, and spasms. This can lead to discomfort and trouble moving.

Anxiety and Restlessness

Individuals withdrawing from Baclofen may report increased anxiety, restlessness, irritability, or agitation. These symptoms can range from moderate to severe and can cause significant discomfort.


A typical withdrawal symptom is difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. Sleep disruptions can increase other withdrawal symptoms and negatively influence overall health.

Increased Sensitivity to Stimuli

Some people may become hypersensitive to light, sound, or touch during Baclofen withdrawal. These increased sensory reactions can increase feelings of discomfort and anxiety.

Psychological Symptoms

Withdrawal from baclofen can also cause mood changes. These include depression, low mood, or a sense of unease. Some people may have cognitive issues. Such as trouble concentrating or memory problems.

Autonomic Dysfunction

Baclofen withdrawal can cause autonomic dysfunction in rare situations, resulting in symptoms such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and sweating. Also, gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can occur.

Need Help With Baclofen? The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

It's important to note that everyone reacts differently to medications. As such, it's important to work closely with your doctor when making sure that any drugs you take are the right choice for you. They can also provide guidance on whether or not baclofen is an appropriate treatment option and monitor your progress while taking it.

If you’re looking for help managing a baclofen addiction or any substance abuse issue, The Edge Treatment Center can provide the support you need. Our team of medical professionals and counselors specializes in treating people struggling with addiction and other mental health issues. We provide comprehensive treatment programs tailored to meet each individual's needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you take control of your life.

The Edge Treatment Center is here to provide the support and care needed to help individuals recover from addiction. With our evidence-based treatment methods, we have helped many people get back to living a happier, healthier life. Don't wait any longer - contact us today for more information about our services!

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