nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,
nancylebov
nancylebov

Anxiety, alcoholism, and baclofen

The End of My Addiction by Olivier Ameisen is a cardiologist's account of becoming an alcoholic, and, after trying a number of things that didn't work or didn't do much (AA and Rational Recovery, rehab, antabuse, various other drugs, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy), discovered that relatively high doses of baclofen (a muscle relaxant) not only completely suppressed his craving for alcohol, but also suppressed the anxiety which was driving the alcoholism. He's found AA and CBT to be very valuable, but not effective for his alcoholism.

Baclofen is a drug which has been used for a long time for neurological problems, and has a good record for safety. However, it's no longer under patent, and there's no one who's interested in putting up the $500,000 which it would cost to test it for helping with addictions. This surprises me-- admittedly, the companies that make it don't want to do any favors for their competitors, but why isn't some government or charity interested in this?

Part of what's interesting about the book is the portrayal of prejudice against alcoholics (probably against addicts in general)-- the author mentions that he got significantly worse hospital care for alcoholism than for other problems.

Also, the craving for alcohol cuts into quality of life in a big way (whether the person drinks or not) but is generally not considered to be a problem worth treating.

He'd been saying for years that he drank because of his anxiety. People would tell him that if he stopped drinking, his anxiety would go away. This simply wasn't true, and they had no reason to think it was true.
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