French Doctor Says Baclofen Cures Addiction
December 10, 2008
French cardiologist Oliver Ameisen is urging researchers to conduct clinical trials testing the effects of baclofen, a muscle relaxer that Ameisen says can cure alcohol and cocaine addictions, the BBC reported Dec. 6.
After reading that baclofen seemed to alleviate rats’ alcohol and cocaine addictions, Ameisen began self-medicating with the drug in 2002 to treat his alcoholism. Ameisen continues to take daily doses of the drug today, and describes its positive effects in his book, “The Last Glass” (Le Dernier Verre), which reached best-seller status in France this fall and will be published in English next month.
“Mine is the first case in which a course of medicine has completely suppressed alcohol addiction,” said Ameisen. “Now I can have a glass and it has no effect. Above all, I no longer have that irrepressible need to drink.”
The book has sparked interest from many to begin baclofen treatment, but the drug has not been approved to treat alcoholism. “We need comprehensive tests to determine how this drug acts, if it is effective and at what dosage, and if it is genuinely harmless in the longer term,” said Alain Rigaud, president of France’s National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction. “But even if it turns out to work, that does not mean a drug alone is the solution.”
However, other doctors report positive results with prescribing baclofen to treat addiction. “I have never had reactions like this before,” said Pascal Garche, a physician in Geneva, Switzerland, who found that seven out of his 12 patients who he put on baclofen reported improvements. “We cannot ignore findings such as this”.