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About Baclofen

 

 

 

Alcoholism - through Baclofen I have beaten it. So can you!

 

 

About Baclofen

Baclofen is a really old drug, unexpectedly given a new lease of life in the treatment of the cravings associated with alcohol withdrawal and the chronic anxiety that often leads the individual to drink.

In the mid 20th Century it was deliberately made by scientists to mimic the actions of GABA (a neurotransmitter) so that doctors could use it on patients to calm down their central nervous systems, and relax their muscles. And this simple drug has been doing this successfully and extremely safely in millions of patients for over 70 years.

 

So, Baclofen is very well known to doctors (even your GP), and they are very confident in both its efficacy and its longterm safety. It is also extremely inexpensive – costing literally pennies to the NHS. 

Consequently, doctors have routinely been using it in medical conditions (normally neurological diseases) where the muscles become too tight and rigid (or spastic, as medics call it). Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsy all come to mind.

It was originally developed as a treatment for epilepsy, but it really wasn’t very good for that series of conditions. It is also used for other more esoteric conditions, including hiccups, but it is with muscle spasm that it is most associated.

The really good news was that, after probably seven decades of experience with it, Baclofen does not appear to result in any problems with dependency or tolerance like so many other ‘brain chemistry’ altering drugs do.

Let's make it very clear - Baclofen is NOT addictive.

Approximately 7 years ago, a French cardiologist (who was also an alcoholic; to such a degree that he was extremely ill and had all but lost his medical practice) researched the scientific literature and found that Baclofen taken in higher doses had been found to alleviate the problems of addiction both in laboratory rats and also in humans.

His name is Olivier Ameisen, and in an act of great courage he self-administered higher doses of Baclofen with miraculous results for him. In a further act of great bravery, he published his personal experiences in his seminal book The End Of My Addiction. It would be fair to say that, since its publication, the prospects of a cure for many alcoholism sufferers throughout the world have dramatically improved.

Tens of thousands of individuals across all continents are now taking high dose Baclofen, with extremely beneficial results in most.

So, why isn’t this new revolutionary treatment more widely available? In the UK, the answer is (unfortunately) extremely simple:

  • The medical profession are notoriously slow in adopting new treatments; requiring randomised, double-blind clinical trials to show that a new drug works better than the alternatives. This is almost always a good thing, but may have less relevance in the case of Baclofen, where many hundreds of highly positive anecdotes demonstrate its efficacy. This most certainly does demand further study but, for those for whom Baclofen works so well, the results of such studies will be wholly irrelevant;

  • Alcoholism, by and large, receives very little interest or importance with the vast majority of doctors (especially GP’s);

  • Baclofen is so old a drug that its patent has long since expired. This means that there is almost no financial incentive for drug companies to undertake this research. They would never recoup the costs of any such research;

  • Financial constraints, and the Government’s own new treatment watchdog (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence – NICE), mean that any new treatments generally require the ‘proper’ trials;

  • All NHS Trusts now rely upon ‘evidence-based medicine’, where they will only release finances for a treatment if it satisfies their stringent criteria for its use.

 

As a result, the overwhelming majority of GP’s in the UK know nothing of the use of Baclofen in alcoholism; and are often even less interested in finding out about it. Of those that do recognise the potential value of Baclofen in alcoholism, almost all will still refuse to prescribe it, or not feel that they have the confidence, expertise or time to take their patient on. Those very few who are prepared to prescribe Baclofen will not usually go over 100mg per day, which is rarely successful in anxiety-associated alcoholism; where,as Dr Ameisen states, High Dose Baclofen is required.

Therefore, almost all patients across the world are self-prescribing and self-monitoring their own treatment with Baclofen; obtaining their supply of Baclofen via the internet, where it is readily available. This is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and very unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

However, it IS perfectly legal and ethical for doctors to prescribe Baclofen for alcoholism. All they have to do is prescribe it ‘off-label’; meaning that the doctor has explained that he is prescribing Baclofen for a condition (i.e. alcoholism) and in a dose for which it is not registered in the UK. Off-label prescribing is an extremely common practice for many other drugs.

In conclusion, Baclofen most definitely DOES work for a high percentage of alcoholism suffers; especially if their drink problem is associated with long-term anxiety or Generalised Anxiety Disorder. One day, I have absolutely no doubt, a ‘new’ Baclofen will be developed and trialled. This will then become the treatment of choice for many of us, freely available through the NHS. However, that day is many years off, and will come too late for many of us.

To reassure you even more about the safety and acceptability of Baclofen, you might be interested to know that in other countries, such as Spain, Baclofen is freely available as an 'over-the-counter' medicine in high street pharmacies without prescription. Indeed, many Baclofen takers in the UK obtain their long-term supples of Baclofen each time they 'pop over' to Spain on holiday.

 

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