Baclofen – Is This Common Muscle Relaxant the Cure for Alcoholism?

Baclofen a common muscle relaxant medication that suppresses cravings for alcohol — and is believed by many to be the solution to the incurable disease of alcoholism.

In the United States alone, approximately 14 million people are addicted to alcohol, or abuse alcohol. In addition, an estimated 43% of American adults have had a child, parent, sibling or spouse who is or was an alcoholic.

Countless jobs and productivity hours have been lost, an untold number of marriages have failed, and children have been born with birth defects because of alcoholism.

Overcoming Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease involving the inability to control alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a toxic agent that impairs cellular respiration and causes histotoxic hypoxia, a condition characterized by the inability of cells and tissues to utilize or metabolize the oxygen from the bloodstream. This is one of the reasons why alcoholism is often chronic and progressive.

According to addiction experts, treatment centers, self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)… no medication is considered a “cure” for alcoholism. However, a French-American doctor, Olivier Ameisen, M.D., has proven otherwise.

Dr. Ameisen is a cardiologist at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical College, and a recovered alcoholic. He used to be a binge drinker, according to a profile featured in The Guardian (May 2010). In the late 1990s, he was regularly hospitalized for alcohol treatment — even though he had tried everything, including the use of the drug Antabuse, acupuncture, hypnosis, Valium, yoga and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous

In 2000, he read an article in the New York Times about a cocaine user who cured his addiction by taking the drug baclofen, which quite ironically, was prescribed for a muscle problem.

Baclofen Study on Curing Alcohol Addiction

Not long thereafter, Dr. Ameisen self-medicated with baclofen and consequently cured his alcohol addiction. He told The Guardian that the medication reduced his craving for alcohol and enabled him to remain abstinent for longer periods until eventually, he became completely and effortlessly indifferent to alcohol .

In his book, The End of My Addiction: How One Man Cured Himself of Alcoholism (which became a bestseller in France in 2008), Dr. Ameisen states that baclofen, used off-label and in high doses, can cure all addictions, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, smoking, bulimia and anorexia, compulsive shopping and gambling.

The muscle relaxant and anti-spastic aspects of the medication (brand names Kemstro and Lioresal) appears to loosen the hold of panic attacks and obsessive thinking.

A study by the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute had earlier touted baclofen as an antidote for cocaine abusers. A double-blind study conducted in 2007 at the Institute of Internal Medicine of the Catholic University of Rome found 70% of alcohol-dependent test subjects treated with baclofen achieved sobriety compared to only 30% of those treated with placebo.

According to the World Health Organization baclofen may just be the solution that could prevent the deaths of the approximately 2 million people around the world who die from the effects of alcohol each year.

Dr. Ameisen’s fellow physicians from institutions like the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the McLean Hospital Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse of Harvard University have become believers and advocates of baclofen for the suppression of alcohol, cocaine and heroin cravings.