Flexeril, also known as Cyclobenzaprine, is a skeletal muscle relaxant used to treat short-term pain (usually 2-3 weeks) typically related to muscle injuries, similar to opioids or other pain relievers. So, is Flexeril addictive? Though not commonly thought of as a drug that would be considered addictive, chronic use can develop physical dependence that turns into an addiction.
What is Flexeril?
Flexeril treats muscle spasms by directly targeting the central nervous system, blocking nerve impulses and pain sensations. Without the drug, this type of pain would travel from spasming muscles to the brain. It is sold in immediate and extended-release versions. Flexeril typically treats the pain from strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.
It can also be used in chronic pain cases, such as some musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia. It’s typically used with rest and physical therapy for these muscular issues. When taken as directed, it relieves muscle pain and improves sleep, motor skills, and energy levels.
Flexeril can be abused because of the pain-blocking effects it has and the development of a tolerance that occurs over time. Chronic use can cause the development of physical dependence and may also eventually lead to an addiction. If the drug itself is discontinued abruptly, Flexeril can have some mild withdrawal effects.
Some Flexeril withdrawal symptoms may include headache, general malaise, and nausea. It is not a controlled substance, but people may abuse it in conjunction with other drugs and alcohol to enhance its effects.
When abused, it causes sedation and relaxation. A small number of people report feeling sensations of euphoria when taking Flexeril. People who abuse it typically dissolve it in alcohol, snort it, or take too much of the pill.
Flexeril and alcohol are commonly abused together, causing an increase in the short-term effects that lead to a higher chance of overdose. Individuals also use Flexeril as a way to come down from stimulants like cocaine.
Overdose with Flexeril
There is a potential for overdose with Flexeril because it typically doesn’t create a euphoric high. To increase relaxation, individuals will use more of it or combine it with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, thus increasing the risk of overdose. The most common signs of an overdose with Flexeril are drowsiness and an elevated heart rate.
Other signs or side effects associated with a Flexeril overdose include:
- Chest pain
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble speaking
- Unexplained muscle stiffness
If you suspect someone is overdosing from Flexeril or is experiencing these severe, life-threatening symptoms, call 911 immediately. It is incredibly important to seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible so that more severe consequences don’t take place, like heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Statistics of Flexeril Substance Abuse
Within the last five years, emergency room visits related to muscle relaxant abuse have almost doubled. They increased from 15,830 to 31,763. More specifically, the DEA reported that in 2010, more than 12,400 emergency room visits were associated with the use of Flexeril. This is a 101% increase from 2004.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse suspects that over 50 million Americans over the age of 12 have abused prescription drugs at least once in their lives. 25.2 million prescriptions for Flexeril and other medications containing Cyclobenzaprine were written by U.S. physicians in 2011.
Is Flexeril Addictive?
Sometimes, it can be hard to determine if someone is addicted to Flexeril as it is prescribed by a physician and not commonly seen as a drug that is addictive. However, there are some tell-tale signs that an individual is addicted to Flexeril. These include:
- Taking a higher dose than prescribed
- Missing out on daily activities
- Uses for nonmedical reasons
- Uses in combination with other drugs or alcohol
- Requires more of the drug to achieve the initial effect
- Taking drugs after no longer needed or longer than prescribed
- Faking symptoms to get more drug
- Cravings and a strong desire to use Flexeril
- Continuing to use it despite negative consequences
- Unsuccessful at quitting despite attempts
Misuse of Flexeril
Short-term effects of Flexeril abuse and addiction include increased sedation and drowsiness, elevated heart rate, dizziness, stomach problems, and dry mouth. Long-term effects have not been studied in detail because the drug has only been intended for short-term use.
Using MAO inhibitors in combination with Flexeril can have serious, if not lethal, effects. MAO inhibitors are a specific class of antidepressants. MAO inhibitors should not be taken at least two weeks before the start of Flexeril. Both of these drugs increase the amount of serotonin in your body and, if taken together, can cause Serotonin Syndrome.
Serotonin Syndrome occurs because of too much serotonin in your body. Symptoms of this syndrome range from anything as mild as nervousness, nausea, and diarrhea to seizures, an abnormal heart rate, and fainting.
There are many ways to seek treatment for Flexeril abuse. Luckily, in the modern era, many methods have been developed to help people seeking freedom from a variety of addictions. Typically, detox is not needed because withdrawal symptoms are mild.
Some of the main ways to treat addiction include:
- 12-Step Facilities: This program typically involves the use of a higher power and groups of people with similar issues in addiction and alcoholism. For Flexeril specifically, Narcotics Anonymous may be useful.
- Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment provides people who are struggling with addiction a safe space where they can get involved in therapy and various other treatment programs while living in a treatment center for a specified length of time that varies depending on the person.
- Outpatient Treatment: Similar to inpatient treatment options, people in outpatient undergo therapy during the day and are allowed to stay at home the rest of the time.
Overall, though not a drug one would normally expect to be seen as addictive, Flexeril can be abused and is definitely addictive if used in the wrong way or for too long. The ways of misuse can vary, from using it too much to combining it with alcohol or other drugs to increase its effects. Physical dependency develops with Flexeril when used for longer than a physician typically recommends and can lead to this development of addiction. Flexeril should be taken seriously as a drug that can be misused and abused despite not being listed as a controlled substance by the FDA or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction, call us today to help find the best Flexeril use treatment program today. Our recovery center utilizes a variety of support groups and aftercare services to meet the unique needs of each of our clients.