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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2017 May;43(3):324-331. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2016.1240797. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

Randomized open-label trial of baclofen for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence.

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a Department of Psychiatry , GB Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research , New Delhi , India.
b Department of Psychiatry , VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital , New Delhi , India.
c Department of Pathology , VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital , New Delhi , India.
d Department of Pathology , ESIC Medical College , Faridabad , Haryana , India.



Alcohol dependence is a progressive chronic disorder characterized by narrowing of the drinking repertoire, salience of drinking, tolerance and withdrawal phenomenon, compulsion to drink, and frequent relapses. Baclofen has been shown to promote abstinence, to reduce craving, and to reduce anxiety in alcohol-dependent individuals, and it promises to be a useful agent, although clinical data are limited at present.


The current study aimed to test the utility of baclofen, a GABA agonist, in improving the relapse rates in alcohol-dependent subjects.


A total of 122 alcohol-dependent subjects were randomized into two groups. Groups were administered baclofen (30 mg/day) or benfothiamine (a nutritional supplement) using an open label design. Both groups received brief motivational intervention. Subjects were assessed at 0, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks for the primary outcome measures: time to first relapse, heavy drinking days, cumulative abstinence duration, and craving (measured by the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS)).


Seventy-two participants received baclofen, and 50 received benfothiamine. Participants receiving baclofen remained abstinent for significantly more days than the benfothiamine group (p < 0.05). The percentage of heavy drinking days was significantly lower in the baclofen group (p = 0.001). Craving and anxiety scores (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale) were also significantly decreased in the baclofen group relative to the control group (p = 0.001). Time to first relapse was similar in both groups.


In this open-label trial, alcohol-dependent participants receiving baclofen showed significant improvements in drinking outcomes compared with participants receiving benfothiamine. This study provides further evidence that baclofen is useful for the treatment of alcohol dependence.


Baclofen; GABA agonist; alcohol dependence; craving; relapse prevention

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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