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‘Wonder drug’ Baclofen ineffective for treating alcohol use disorders, finds study

Baclofen is a medication commonly used for treating muscular spasticity. Prior studies have shown it to be a promising treatment option for patients suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) and some have even cited it as the ‘wonder drug’ to treat alcoholism. However, a recent study by a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool has highlighted the ineffectiveness of baclofen treatment for AUD. The study published online in the journal Addiction on Feb. 26, 2018, claimed the drug to have no superior effect in decreasing heavy drinking, alcohol cravings, anxiety or depression.

For the study, Dr. Abi Rose and Dr. Andy Jones conducted a meta-analysis on outcome data from 12 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) comparing the drug with a placebo. The RCTs provided data on at least one of the primary as well as the secondary outcome measures, including drinking-related outcomes like rates of abstinence, alcohol cravings, anxiety and depression. Considered to be an advanced statistical procedure, meta-analysis allows researchers to merge results of all the studies on a specific topic into a quantitative measure, thereby providing a more accurate and reliable outcome compared to a single experiment.

Ineffectiveness of baclofen treatment

A GABA-B agonist, the wonder drug is considered to be more effective than other treatment options with its ability to effectively suppress cravings, treat alcohol withdrawal and reduce negative mood states such as depression and anxiety. What adds to the drug’s popularity is that it is largely excreted through the kidneys, making it possible to be administered to individuals suffering from alcohol-related liver disease. Following a number of successful trials, the prescription of baclofen in curing AUD has become widespread in certain countries.

According to Dr. Jones, the meta-analysis shows baclofen to be no more effective than a placebo on a range of outcomes that further suggest that the current increasing use of the drug for treating AUDs is premature. The researchers also revealed the ineffectiveness of the drug treatment in having superior effect on increasing the number of alcohol abstinent days or reducing the number of heavy drinking days.

AUD a chronic and relapsing brain disease

A problematic pattern of alcohol use, AUD involves being preoccupied with alcohol, having problem in controlling one’s drinking habit and continuing to consume alcohol even when it causes troubles. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease that affected 15.1 million American people (aged 12 or above) in 2016.

Many people drink to get a high or relax, or as a coping mechanism to get relief from life stressors. Drinking in excess on a single occasion or over a lifetime can cause major health problems and can even be life-threatening. Some of the risks associated with excessive drinking include increased risk of injury and self-harm behavior, serious physical and mental diseases and risk of birth-related defects, among others. It is essential to encourage the affected person to get the treatment in time and walk the path of sobriety.

Path to recovery

A comprehensive treatment for AUD involves medically assisted detox followed by psychotherapy or counseling sessions under the guidance of trained medical health professionals. For individuals battling an addiction to alcohol and looking for effective treatment plans, look no further. The representatives at the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help you or your loved ones learn more about addiction, identify the symptoms and get connected to the best treatment providers in the country. We can help you locate the finest alcohol abuse treatment centers that offer holistic recovery plans in a safe and compassionate environment. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (855) 441-4405 or chat online with a representative to find the best alcohol addiction treatment options basis your needs.

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