from our general practitioner's office & press releases
Lecture by Dr. Schnell on Baclofen therapy
"The little prince meets the drunkard"...
...and he is sorry for him. The little prince is baffled and leaves the alcoholic alone.
Medicine almost always leave the alcoholic alone, tells him he should stop, he just has to want it, he should work on himself. He is admitted as an in-patient, sometimes discharged disciplinarily, forced to open up and to admit that he is an alcoholic, then ultimately he is locked up in a rehab clinic. He leaves the clinic after having received the best possible treatment... and relapses in the first 14 days. He is told that he has not understood it and everything starts again. He is alone, he is ashamed, despairs of himself and drinks again. The family is tortured by conflicting feelings of contempt, disgust, anger, disappointment, frustration and then in turn care, help and the intention of absolute support. This drama of familial inner conflict stretches across the years, until finally the whole family is burnt out.
Treatment of alcohol addiction with high-dose Baclofen
The first randomised and placebo-controlled study with high-dose Baclofen (up to 270 mg/day).
Previous randomised, placebo-controlled studies (RCTs), which deal with the efficacy of the selective gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-B receptor agonist Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol addiction, reported varying results, which could be linked to the low to medium dosage of the active ingredient Baclofen (30–80 mg/day). Building on preclinical observations, which suggested dosage-dependent effects, and based on positive case studies of alcohol-dependent patients, it was the aim of this study to investigate the efficacy and safety of Baclofen treatment for alcohol addiction, with individually adjusted, high dosages.
Out of 93 gradually selected alcohol-dependent patients, 56 were randomly allocated to a double-blind treatment with individually adjusted dosages of Baclofen or placebo (30-270 mg/day). (...)
Read the complete study "Treatment of alcohol addiction with high-dose Baclofen" here. »
France allows medication against alcoholism
We recommend the following article from the WELT tablet app:
Frankreich lässt Medikament gegen Alkoholismus zu [France allows medication against alcoholism]
Starting from now, the medication Baclofen with the active ingredient of the same name is temporarily authorised for the treatment of alcohol addiction.
On Friday, the French Medicines Agency announced in Paris that medication actually developed to combat muscle cramps will now be provisionally authorised to treat alcoholism. Renowned doctors in France had been requesting this for a long time because studies had shown a high success rate with Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol addiction.
The medication that is also authorised for cerebral palsy in Germany, and is sold by the pharmaceuticals companies Novartis and Sanofi amongst others, has already been prescribed to alcoholic patients by individual doctors. The side effects of Baclofen, which evidently intervenes in the reward system in the brain, are minimal. The medication has been on the market since 1975.
The French cardiologist Olivier Ameisen came across the efficacy of the medication against alcohol addiction. He was severely alcohol-dependent himself, and in his own words, cured himself of his addiction in a self-experiment with Baclofen. He published a specialist article around ten years ago now, and later his book "Das Ende meiner Sucht" [The end of my addiction], which caused a stir and brought about a series of studies on Baclofen against alcohol addiction.
Wie der Mensch Marionette wird [How the person becomes a puppet]
Addiction: Alcohol rebuilds the brain and affects the ultra-fast nerve channels of the brainstem. Dr. Vera Schnell wants intellect to be master of your head again.
A medication against addiction
The Regensburg doctor Dr. Vera Schnell treated alcoholic patients over an extended weekend in the Evangelical Hospital. The in-patient treatment starts with detoxification, with drips with sugar, vitamins and magnesium.
The strategy is to block the control centre in the amygdala. To this end, the doctor administers a medication which has been on the market for 30 years, but which is only authorised for muscular diseases in Germany, and not the treatment of alcoholics.
"The responsibility is with the treating physician," says Dr. Schnell, and points out that 300,000 alcoholics have already been treated with the very low-cost medication in France. It frees alcoholics from the urge to drink, but must be administered for several years.
Klein, Heinz: Wie der Mensch Marionette wird [How the person becomes a puppet] In: Mittelbayerische Zeitung from 14.03.2014, P. 19
Go to complete article: "Wie der Mensch Marionette wird [How the person becomes a puppet]" (PDF, 110 KB)
There is a cure for addiction
In France, alcoholics can take the active ingredient Baclofen to tackle their addiction. In Germany, however, there is no authorisation in sight. Experts are eagerly awaiting the results of a study.
A French doctor stirred up the world of alcoholics and addiction therapists ten years ago: The cardiologist Olivier Ameisen published a specialist article at the time. In this article, he described his own battle with alcohol. He successfully tested the active ingredient Baclofen on himself to get his drinking behaviour under control. Later, his book "The end of my addiction" was published.
Until now, patients ask their doctors for the medication with the book or articles under their arm. Yet until now, it has only been able to be prescribed in exceptional cases ("off label") in Germany: In this country it is only permitted for the treatment of muscle cramps for some diseases and spastic paralysis.
This does not put Friedrich Kreuzeder off: After the publication of the book in Germany, the Munich man found a general practitioner, who took a great deal of time and dared to try the Baclofen experiment with him. Previously, neither short-term nor long-term therapy helped him to escape his alcohol addiction. Even the support of Alcoholics Anonymous failed. "Until then, I had no experience with medications," said Kreuzeder.
According to Kreuzeder, an anxiety disorder and depression led him to the bottle, as has been the case with Ameisen. Today, Kreuzeder passes on his experience as an addiction counsellor. He also runs a Forum, where those affected and specialists can exchange views or experiences. He and his fellow campaigners think that clinics in Germany are not open to the new medication. After all, they would benefit from the cycle of detoxification, withdrawal and aftercare, and the studies of other active ingredients.
Liebram, Claudia: There is a cure for addiction – but not here In: WELT (Tablet app)
We recommend that you read the complete article: "Es gibt ein Mittel gegen die Sucht – aber nicht bei uns" [There is a cure for addiction – but not here] (PDF, 571 KB)
In the general practitioner's office of Dr. Schnell, you will be treated with this medication!
Baclofen – pill instead of bottle – what's the story with the pill against alcoholism?
The common view of professionals is still:
Alcoholics cannot be cured. However, the disease of alcoholism can be brought to a stop through lifelong abstinence. Has anything changed about that?
"They are astonished and recognise that the necessity for alcohol, which has accompanied them all their life, has suddenly disappeared."
This is what doctor and psychotherapist Annie Rapp, Prof. Philippe Jaury and many other addiction specialists say, who have treated their patients with Baclofen for more than 3 years.
The self-experiment by French cardiologist Prof. Olivier Ameisen and his autobiographical work "Das Ende meiner Sucht" [The end of my addiction] published in 2007, has moved many doctors to try the medication Baclofen as an individual treatment attempt for their patients in the scope of an "off-label" application.
Since 2007, new studies were started worldwide. In the new year, a phase IV study with 300 patients will begin in France.
Prof. Andreas Heinz, Charité Berlin, who started his own study with Baclofen in 2011, says: "In the case of depression, we have long recognised that you can help in many cases with medications. It is time to accept this with alcohol addiction too. Baclofen came onto the market decades ago as an anti-spasmodic for people with cerebral palsy. However, there are now many indications that the medication can also help alcoholics. Some animal testing has shown this, and many people who take the medication report that the cravings disappear".
We recommend that you read the complete article, which appeared on the internet portal "openPR" under the title "Baclofen - Pille statt Pulle - was ist dran an der Pille gegen Alkoholismus? [Baclofen – pill instead of bottle -what's the story with the pill against alcoholism?".
Der Blau-Macher [The skiver]
I'm about to crash. I am steering a car and I see nothing, hear nothing, can hardly steer, hardly brake. The signs on the side of the road appear in triplicate in front of my eyes, oversized and threateningly close, and so do parked cars. My car hops because my left leg will not obey me when changing gear.
We recommend that you read the whole article, which appeared with the title "Der Blau-Macher" [The skiver] in the German weekly news magazine Focus 14/2014.
Addiction in a cage
In a long-term experiment: rats show striking similarities to humans when it comes to addiction behaviour
At 5 pm on the dot, in the cellar of the Institute for Clinical Neurobiology of the Freie Universität Berlin [Free University Berlin], the light goes out. Yet, it does not go quiet. In the small, stacked wire cages, it begins to rustle. Because the rat's day only really starts when it gets dark. The animals nibble on crumbs of food or suck on one of the bottles. What the rats drink is left up to them.
They can choose from water as well as five, ten or twenty percent alcohol. "This roughly corresponds to the content of beer, wine and schnapps," explains Andrea Heyne. A couple of cages further along, apart from water, there are differently dosed drinking solutions with opiates or amphetamines to choose from. Whether alcohol, tranquillisers or stimulants – when given the choice, all animals "reach" for drugs.
For more than ten years, Prof. Jochen Wolffgramm and his colleague Andrea Heyne have been on the case of addiction development. One result of their years of research: Just like people – the rodents become addicted to drugs. "However, this doesn't happen overnight," says Andrea Heyne, "rather it is a long development, which -just like with people – ends up in a loss of control."
In the end, even the addicted rat no longer had its drug consumption "under control". How the rodents consume drugs is strikingly similar to people: In an "introductory phase", they learn how to deal with drugs, and test out how the dosages affect them. "Someone who knows how beer affects them is not necessary in a position to translate this to liqueur," says Jochen Wolffgramm. After a few weeks, the animals develop a "controlled consumption". How many drugs they take depends on their mood and their "personality". Dominant, aggressive animals manage with lower drug quantities than less dominant ones. Even more astonishing: "Rats specifically use the drugs to stimulate themselves," says Wolffgramm. In the group, the animals drink a moderate amount, but socially isolated rodents "tipple" significantly more.
The phase of "controlled consumption" lasts for a very long time, around a third of a "rat's life". Some never leave it, others suddenly begin to very significantly increase their daily drug base. Overall, this affects around half of all test animals. "Yet, until now, we have not been able to predict which animals are affected," emphasises Andrea Heyne. But one thing is certain: These animals are addicted.
This is proven by the "retest": The rodents are deprived of the drugs. For up to nine months – so roughly a third of the rat's life – they remain compulsorily "clean". If the researchers offer drugs again after the long abstinence, the rats immediately take them voluntarily and in extremely high doses. They take them even if the "cocktail" offered tastes extremely unpleasant because bitter substances have been mixed in. Such a "loss of control" is an infallible sign of the diagnosis of "addiction" – in rats and in people.
A further criterion from human medicine is the "loss of reversibility": The craving for drugs remains even after several months of abstinence. It is irreversible. "This means a type of addiction memory must have formed," concludes Wolffgramm. Yet, in the search for changes in the rat's brain, the researchers were faced with a difficulty: They had to differentiate between changes, which the drugs as a substance caused in the brain, and those that are the signs of an addiction.
However, the scientists succeeded in locating the "addiction memory" in the brain. Because rats only become addicted when you give them free choice. Animals that were forced in drug consumption, on the other hand, did not. Neurochemists in the work group now compared the brains of the voluntarily addicted rats with those that were forcibly intoxicated and made a discovery: They encountered changes in the signal processing in the "nigrostriatal channel". This area of the brain is also responsible for relatively fixed stimulant reaction relationships, even for normal behaviour, and borders on every part that is responsible for flexibly dealing with the environment.
"We could work on this further," enthused the research team. Initially, it is about finding out what exactly has changed in the brain of the addicted animal in terms of neurochemistry or molecular biology. The transition from controlled drinking to addiction is particularly interesting. Building on this, the researchers hope to be able to develop a real addiction therapy. "We are approaching it with great vigour," Andrea Heyne points out.
If the processes in the addicted brain are clarified, then a medication could be specifically developed using "molecular drug design", which compensated for the biochemical changes in the brain or permanently "deletes" the "addiction memory". However, the FU researchers are optimistic: "The most time-consuming step was to develop the animal model." And this step is already behind them.
Schrum, Anja: Sucht im Käfig [Addiction in a cage]. In: Berliner Morgenpost 1998, 12.08.1998