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Alcoholism and a sudden interest in baclofen

January 14, 2009 |  9:52 am

Newbourbon_3"In the depths of a desperate struggle with alcoholism, I found a medicine, baclofen, that both freed me of all cravings for alcohol and resolved the underlying disorder, overwhelming anxiety, that made me vulnerable to addiction."

So writes French cardiologist Dr. Olivier Ameisen in his new book, "The End of My Addiction." An excerpt of the book appears today on abcnews.com and is not surprisingly -- with that kind of claim -- prompting interest in the drug, speculation about its potential and, of course, Google searches hither and yon.

Ameisen's statement is certainly provocative -- bordering on incendiary -- for the almost magic-like quality it seems to suggest for baclofen, a drug of which few people are aware.

The medication itself is a muscle relaxer, often used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis symptoms, according to drugs.com.

And it does show some promise ...

A relatively small, but human, study published in the Dec. 8, 2007, issue of The Lancet concluded: "Baclofen is effective at promoting alcohol abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis. The drug is well tolerated and could have an important role in treatment of these individuals."

The drug has also intrigued some researchers for its potential to treat cocaine addiction and has been eyed for its possibility in treating other addictions as well. But such research is far from a slam-dunk cure for alcoholism.

Ameisen, at least, says it's time for further studies.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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