Baclofen for alcohol addiction - will it catch on?

“Complete freedom from craving.”

This is how the late Dr Olivier Ameisen described the effects of baclofen in his influential 2008 memoir-cum-case study, The End of My Addiction.

The prominent New York cardiologist, who died from a myocardial infarction in 2013, became a campaigner for wider use of the muscle relaxant to treat the cravings of alcohol addiction after experimenting on himself.

His story, published in his native France as Le Dernier Verre, described his experience of decades of alcoholism and failed attempts at rehabilitation.

His campaign to promote baclofen therapy has since been taken up by doctors and advocacy groups around the world, with the drug now used in several European countries to treat alcohol dependence. This includes France where some 10,000 GPs are prescribing it to an estimated 55,000 patients.

In Australia, baclofen is