The prescription drug baclofen is often prescribed for spinal disorders and injuries and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis. It is intended as an antispastic and muscle relaxant, but in recent years it has also been used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Baclofen is administered either as a pill or as a solution delivered intrathecally, meaning through a catheter or injection into the spine. Some brand names for baclofen include Lioresal, Liofen, and Gablofen.
Baclofen doesn’t cause euphoria (a “high”), but it does have sedative, or calming, effects. It’s important to follow the baclofen dosing directions carefully. If someone takes too much baclofen either accidentally or intentionally, the overdose can result in dangerous and even deadly symptoms.
It’s possible to become dependent on baclofen. If someone has been taking baclofen for a while and they stop taking it suddenly, they will likely experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Read more below to learn about baclofen half-life, detoxing from baclofen, and how long it takes for baclofen to leave your system.
Baclofen is available as 10 mg or 20 mg oral tablets or as a solution that is administered into the spine through an injection or intrathecal pump. For muscle or spinal cord disorders, the total daily dose of oral baclofen is usually no more than 80 mg.
Baclofen is also used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Dosages for this treatment are usually higher than 80 mg. If you have any questions about your baclofen prescription or dosage, contact your healthcare provider. Don’t make any changes to your dosage without speaking with your doctor first.
So, how long does baclofen stay in your system? The half-life of baclofen is about two to four hours. Because of this, a baclofen prescription usually requires frequent dosing to maintain its effects.
If you have been taking baclofen regularly, particularly for a long time, don’t stop taking it suddenly. This can result in baclofen withdrawal symptoms. It can take 48 hours before baclofen withdrawal symptoms occur. They usually peak within 72 hours. Early symptoms may include itchiness, irritability, nausea, and vomiting. As the withdrawal continues, other more severe symptoms may develop, including irregular heartbeat, seizures, and hallucinations. Unmonitored baclofen withdrawal can even result in death.
If you are taking a drug test, you shouldn’t have to worry about baclofen causing any problems. Most drug panels employers use test for five kinds of drugs, which are mostly “street” drugs with the exception of some opioids. These five drugs are:
Some larger drug panels test for additional drugs such as prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants in addition to amphetamines, among others. Baclofen is not included on these panels because it’s not a controlled substance and it’s not an opiate. While some prescription drugs may interfere with drug tests, particularly prescription opioids, baclofen typically doesn’t cause any problems.
Baclofen would only show up on a drug panel if, for some reason, it was included in the test. If that’s the case, given its half-life, baclofen would be detectable in a blood sample for about a day. It’s excreted from the body through urine, so it could show up in a urine drug screening for about two days. It’s possible that it might be detectable longer in the case of someone who took a large dose of the drug.
If you’ve been struggling with a baclofen dependence and you’re ready to stop, quitting cold turkey may sound like a good idea. But it’s not. Suddenly stopping baclofen can result in uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. The best way to safely withdraw from baclofen and ensure your best chance for recovery is to participate in a professional medical detox program.
The medical detox process may take a few days. During this time a medical team will closely monitor you. They will take steps to help alleviate the physical discomfort of baclofen withdrawal symptoms while you eliminate the drug from your system. Counseling support will also be provided to help you manage the psychological and emotional aspects of baclofen detox.
Once you have completed the medical detox process, it’s ideal to continue treatment with a full continuum of care, which takes you through progressively less intense levels of treatment. After detox, the next step would be to either continue with further inpatient treatment or move into a partial hospitalization program. This type of program allows you more flexibility than an inpatient program where you are monitored 24/7. However, your doctor may recommend inpatient care if you have any co-existing medical or psychological conditions or any other substance use disorders.
The next stage after partial hospitalization is outpatient treatment, which allows you to live independently and participate in counseling sessions and other forms of therapy a few times a week. Once you have completed an outpatient program, then you move into an alumni or aftercare program that provides opportunities for ongoing support as you adjust to life outside of the treatment program.
If you participate in a full continuum of care from detox through aftercare, your treatment program may last several weeks to a few months. Finding the best care for you will depend on your treatment needs, your doctor’s recommendations, and your financial situation.
Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that is often prescribed for spinal disorders and injuries and muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis. It’s available in pill form or as an intrathecal solution. Baclofen can be habit-forming. It has a short half-life and usually requires frequent dosing.
Don’t stop taking baclofen suddenly because it may cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before making any changes to your baclofen dosage. If you are struggling with an addiction to baclofen, find a reputable medical detox program to guide you through withdrawal and help position you for a successful recovery.
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