Alcohol Information – A Pill to eliminate alcohol cravings?
If only the cravings for alcohol would go away, people trying to
overcome the grip of alcoholism would stand a much better chance of
fighting off the disease. Anybody who has had alcohol cravings knows
what this is all about.
It’s one thing to experience a little temptation, but it’s
another to have an overwhelming, persistent urge and need for
alcohol. There’s always a problem.
First we want to take the edge off the troubles of the day, so we
have a drink. Then we want to take the edge off the craving for
Those who have participated in 12-Step recovery turn to their
“higher power” for strength and support, trusting that the
“higher power” will restore them to sanity. They decide turn
their will and their lives over to the care of God, as they
understand Him, to be a guiding light and source of comfort. This is
accomplished through an ever-deepening, personal relationship. But
this is America and we want relief NOW. There might be a
The drug Baclofen is a muscle relaxant, used to treat muscle
symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis. The symptoms include spasms,
stiffness and pain. Some of the side effects include impairment of
thinking or reactions, so patients who need to be awake and alert
need to be careful when using this drug.
Patients who have used Baclofen for a long time may experience
serious withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations. The
use of Baclofen to help alcoholics with their cravings is relatively
new, so there isn’t an abundance of clinical testing
I read an article on medscape.com, which discussed results of
clinical testing for patients with advanced liver disease. The 2007
study cast Baclofen in a favorable light for a medical intervention.
“In conclusion, our results suggest that Baclofen, because
of its anti-craving action and safety, could have an important role
for treatment of alcohol-dependent patients with advanced liver
disease,” the researchers, with first author Giovanni
Addolorato, MD, from the Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic
University of Rome, in Italy, write. “We have shown that a
pharmacological agent can promote alcohol abstinence and prevent
alcohol relapse in individuals with alcoholic liver disease.”
Must stop drinking before treatment
Patients with acidosis, who cannot stop drinking and are faced
with death if they fail to stop doing so, and any treatment can’t
move forward as long as they are drinking. But this is a severe case.
What about other patients with alcoholism, who are not in the latter
stages of liver disease, or who are in one of the earlier stages of
Assuming that Baclofen is safe and appropriate for treatment of
alcohol cravings does it represent a one-stop cure for alcoholism?
This introduces an interesting topic for discussion. Aside from
physical dependence or alcohol cravings, what about other factors
that contribute to one becoming an alcoholic, such as psychological
makeup, environment or genetics? If I drink, for example, to numb the
pain in my life, will taking away alcohol cravings help that pain to
I can see Baclofen as a piece of the solution puzzle, in limited
cases. But I can’t help but get back to 12 Step, because it is
incorporated into an interdisciplinary program, meaning that
physical, emotional and spiritual issues are addressed.
Pharmacological interventions do not sooth the human spirit, nor with Baclofen heal broken relationships. I can see, however, how this drug
intervention, in theory, can save the lives of patients in the cases
discussed in the study. I would caution against looking to a pill as
The anti-12 Step crowd will herald any drug intervention as being
a positive alternative to 12 Step, mainly because 12 Step takes time
and is far more difficult than taking a pill. Baclofen does not
require honesty, openness and willingness, nor does it necessitate
self-examination. Perhaps Baclofen can stop the alcohol cravings, or
be used as a tool to help a person regain control of his/her life,
and help bring about a return to health. I have no issue with this.
But if the whole person is not treated, then the hole in the spirit
that is filled with alcohol, or some other destructive force, is