The prescription drug Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) is a prescription muscle relaxer often prescribed to treat back pain, skeletal muscle conditions related to pain or injury, and, occasionally, less common disorders such as muscular dystrophy. Flexeril works by controlling muscle spasms that originate in the muscle itself—versus other drugs that reduce pain in nerves that control muscles. Flexeril is less addictive than other painkillers, such as opioids, but there is still some risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction.
The Flexeril High
In addition to relief from muscle spasms and the pain associated with them, Flexeril may also induce feelings of drowsiness, relaxation, and a sense of “floating” that could be considered by some to be similar to a mild high. This effect usually only occurs among first-time users or when the drug is misused and taken more frequently than prescribed or in excessive amounts. Also, the effects of being high may be amplified if the Flexeril is used in combination with other intoxicating substances.
The general guidelines for prescribing Flexeril to persons aged 15 and older recommend 5-10mg doses three times per day. The Flexeril high itself isn’t usually as euphoric as that which is associated with many other CNS (central nervous system) depressants, such as benzodiazepines. However, it can produce long-lasting feelings of relaxation and calm that may compel some users to experiment with it by using it more than directed or with other drugs or alcohol.
How Do People Misuse Flexeril?
Flexeril medication can easily be dissolved in alcohol or crushed and snorted, two routes of administration that can lead to a more intense high. As opposed to 5-10mg as directed, recreational Flexeril doses are often much larger and range from 20-80 mg or higher.
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has found that most individuals who abuse Flexeril do so by mixing it with other prescription or illicit drugs. The reason for this is because cyclobenzaprine compounds the effects of other CNS depressants such as alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines.
Risks of Flexeril Abuse
Flexeril abuse can lead to an overdose, the effects of which can be life-threatening and include fluctuations in body temperature, heart arrhythmia, and convulsions. Recreational or non-medical use can also result in the development of tolerance and physical dependence.
Tolerance is a condition that progresses over time and results in an individual’s need to use ever-increasing amounts of a substance to experience the sought-aftereffects. Dependence is characterized by a need to use drugs or alcohol regularly to stave off withdrawal symptoms.
The development of both tolerance and dependence commonly leads to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. These three elements form the foundation of addiction, resulting in long-term health complications and adverse consequences.
Risks of Combining Flexeril With Alcohol
The combination of muscle relaxers such as Flexeril and alcohol can cause severe CNS problems, the effects of which can prove lethal. Mixing Flexeril and alcohol is particularly dangerous because both of these substances are CNS depressants. That means that both Flexeril and alcohol work to reduce activity in the body.
One of the essential bodily processes that these two substances can affect is respiration. When used alone, but in excess, alcohol itself can impair respiration to dangerous levels, and Flexeril abuse can also result in dangerously slow breathing. Moreover, when Flexeril and alcohol are combined, each other’s effects can compound and further increase the risk of severely depressed respiration.
Alcohol use can also increase cyclobenzaprine’s side effects, including dizziness, impaired concentration, and drowsiness. As a result, individuals who use both substances concurrently may be more likely to injure themselves or others. As such, it is strongly advised that patients abstain from alcohol use while they are actively being treated with Flexeril.
People who mix Flexeril and alcohol also may not think clearly and may be more susceptible to making bad choices, resulting in more risks to the user’s health and well-being. Driving a car or operating machinery while intoxicated, experiencing falls, and other types of physical harm may be likely to occur when a person abuses Flexeril in conjunction with alcohol. In fact, there have been many fatalities related to the use of Flexeril and alcohol together that occurred due to physical harm related to over intoxication.
Flexeril Side Effects
Flexeril has the potential to lead to severe CNS complications as well as mental health problems, including anxiety, disorientation, and, in extreme cases, psychosis. However, the most common Flexeril side effect is drowsiness. Therefore, those who use this medication should avoid responsibilities that require attention and focus until they understand how Flexeril affects them.
Some people may not experience much drowsiness, while others may be excessively sleepy. Other common Flexeril side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea. Flexeril also contains antihistamines (anti-allergy medications) that can increase the risk of some of these side effects.
Studies have suggested that Flexeril abuse can also lead to liver damage when misused, including inflammation and swelling. Liver damage can result in jaundice, or bile being diverted from the liver into the intestines. Like chronic alcohol abuse, Flexeril misuse can cause irreversibly and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver and other vital bodily organs.
Flexeril abuse can also cause neurochemicals in the brain to malfunction, possibly leading to the following adverse effects:
- Visual impairments
- Cognitive impairments
- Unusual thoughts
- Intense fear
It is certainly possible to overdose on Flexeril. Common effects include profound drowsiness and an irregular heartbeat that can be fast and pounding, frequently accompanied by heightened anxiety and breathing problems.
Less common effects include:
- High blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Muscle stiffness
Rarely, a Flexeril overdose produces life-threatening symptoms, including the following:
- Cardiac arrest
- Chest pain
- Cardiac dysrhythmias
- Severely low blood pressure
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
Overdose Risk Factors
There are several individual factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing a Flexeril overdose, including the following:
- Height and weight
- Dose amount and time duration of use
- Pre-existing heart or breathing problems
- Other pre-existing health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, glaucoma, incontinence, enlarged prostate, and liver disease
Flexeril Addiction Treatment
Flexeril isn’t considered one of the more common drugs for which people need to seek professional treatment. However, if you attempt to quit using it by yourself, you put yourself at an increased risk for relapse. Also, many people who misuse Flexeril abuse other substances, including alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. These are three classes of substances that usually require comprehensive treatment program for a safe recovery.
Getting treatment for Flexeril addiction has many benefits, including gaining insight into the factors that led to substance abuse in the first place. Just Believe Recovery center offers an evidence-based approach to addiction, including services essential to the recovery process. These include behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, peer group support, health and wellness education, substance abuse education, and aftercare planning, among many others.
Our center employs caring health and addiction professionals who provide those we treat with the knowledge, resources, and support they so direly need to achieve abstinence, prevent relapse and maintain long-lasting sobriety.