Baclofen and Alcohol: Risks, Effects & Interactions

Last Updated: April 12, 2023

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Baclofen is one of the most common muscle relaxants prescribed in the U.S. Generally used in multiple sclerosis, it can help people with rigid muscles regain their function. However, although baclofen is not a controlled substance, it should still be taken cautiously, especially if you drink alcohol.

What Is Baclofen? 

Baclofen is a muscle relaxant, although experts are not sure how it exerts its effects. Specifically, it is FDA-approved for use in multiple sclerosis to treat muscle rigidity and help improve muscle function. Unlike some other muscle relaxants, which are controlled substances, baclofen is not a controlled substance and is not considered a drug of abuse.

Baclofen Side Effects

Like all drugs, baclofen has some side effects. Generally, these side effects reflect the fact that baclofen is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and include:

  • Drowsiness, the most common side effect
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Increased urination
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure

Baclofen Addiction and Abuse

Some muscle relaxants are addictive substances and are prone to abuse. However, baclofen is not among these agents. Baclofen is not a controlled substance, and the Drug Enforcement Administration does not consider it a drug of concern.

That said, taking more baclofen than prescribed or taking it more often than prescribed can be dangerous. Baclofen may not be an addictive drug, but it is a prescription medication and should only be taken as prescribed. 

Taking a higher dose of baclofen than prescribed can be dangerous. When you take baclofen, your body can become used to the drug’s presence over time. If you suddenly stop taking baclofen, you can experience withdrawal symptoms, which include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in heart rate or blood pressure
  • Seizures

Because baclofen is a CNS depressant, it should be used with extreme caution with other CNS depressants, including alcohol.

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Can You Drink on Baclofen? 

Before drinking while on baclofen, looking into the possible side effects is important. As a muscle relaxant, baclofen is a CNS depressant. Because alcohol is also a CNS depressant, drinking while taking baclofen may increase your risk of side effects and baclofen overdose.

Side Effects and Interactions of Mixing Baclofen and Alcohol

When used together, baclofen and alcohol can increase each substance’s side effects. Specifically, this can lead to symptoms like:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Problems concentrating
  • Cognitive problems
  • Poor judgment
  • Impaired coordination

Because alcohol is additive with baclofen’s side effects, it is important to be aware of the signs of a baclofen overdose. These signs include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Trouble visually focusing on an object
  • Vomiting
  • Limp muscles
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Seizures

A baclofen overdose is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone has overdosed on baclofen, you should call 911.

Baclofen for Alcohol Withdrawal

Baclofen is not routinely used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Experts have found there is not enough evidence to recommend the drug. The first-line treatment for alcohol withdrawal symptoms is benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium). If benzodiazepines cannot be used, your doctor may offer other alternatives but is unlikely to recommend baclofen.

If you struggle with multiple substances like alcohol and muscle relaxants, help is available. Polysubstance abuse can be complicated but is a treatable condition. At The Recovery Village Columbus, you start in medical detox to wean your system of alcohol and muscle relaxants. Rehab follows medical detox to help keep you off alcohol and muscle relaxants for good. Contact a Recovery Advocate today to learn more about the treatment options available.

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When you call our team, you will speak to a Recovery Advocate who will answer any questions and perform a pre-assessment to determine your eligibility for treatment. If eligible, we will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. If The Recovery Village is not the right fit for you or your loved one, we will help refer you to a facility that is. All calls are 100% free and confidential.

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