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Alcohol Alcohol. 2011 Nov-Dec;46(6):714-20. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agr131. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Clinical experience with baclofen in the management of alcohol-dependent patients with psychiatric comorbidity: a selected case series.

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Northern Sydney Drug and Alcohol Service, Herbert St Clinic, RNS Hospital, St Leonards, Sydney, NSW 2065, Australia.



To illustrate the potential indications for, and adverse effects of, baclofen pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence in patients with co-existing psychiatric illness.


Audit of the files of alcohol-dependent patients treated for comorbid non-psychotic psychiatric illness in a specialist detoxification unit with integrated outpatient treatment. Files were selected of patients who had been offered treatment with baclofen because other alcohol pharmacotherapies had previously been unsuccessful in preventing relapse or were contraindicated.


Of the 21 selected patients, 13 attended for outpatient treatment, with follow-up periods ranging from 4 days to 27 months, and the outcomes could be rated. Prescribed baclofen doses ranged from 30 to 275 mg daily. Common side effects at lower doses included tiredness and sedation; one patient on 120 mg/day developed reversible severe back pain, and a patient taking up to 275 mg/day developed somnolence, dizziness and incontinence. Seven patients maintained significant periods of abstinence, and one patient reduced daily consumption to non-problematic levels. Two patients consumed an overdose of other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, while taking baclofen in the first week of treatment, were briefly unwell, were given emergency monitoring, but made a full recovery.


While more than half the patients reported significant reduction in alcohol use, it is not possible to draw definite conclusions about the effectiveness of baclofen, given that it was combined with other psychiatric and alcohol treatments, and because there was no control or comparison group. We recommend caution when offering baclofen to patients with a history of recurrent overdosing or a history of other substance misuse. When prescribing in conjunction with other medications with CNS depressant action, close monitoring is recommended at initiation and during dose escalation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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