Understanding Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine)
Flexeril is the brand-name for Cyclobenzaprine, a prescription muscle relaxer that is similar to a class of antidepressant drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. The generic form was first approved in 1977 and is sold in both immediate and extended release versions. Flexeril is prescribed to treat short-term pain and discomfort that stems from muscle injuries, including strains, sprains, and spasms. It is usually used in conjunction with physical therapy. The medication helps control the muscle spasms that result in pain. Typically, a doctor will prescribe Flexeril as part of a treatment plan that also includes rest and physical therapy. In some cases, Flexeril can additionally be used in order to treat pain from certain musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia. Flexeril works by acting on the central nervous system, blocking pain sensations that would otherwise travel from sore and spasming muscles to the brain.
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Flexeril Effects and Abuse
Taking Flexeril can improve sleep, motor skills, and energy levels in consumers that are experiencing severe muscle pain. In addition to these benefits, the medication can produce a variety of negative and potentially harmful effects as well. These side effects can range from mild to severe and include any of the following:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Acid reflux
- Abdominal pain
- Urination problems
Another potential side effect of Flexeril is overdose if an individual takes too much of the drug. Although Flexeril doesn’t produce a euphoric high like many other drugs, people still misuse it due to its relaxing effects, and many will increase dosages to amplify those effects. A Flexeril overdose can cause severe health problems such as cardiac arrest, dangerously low blood pressure, and seizures. In extreme cases, central nervous system depression, seizures, heart attack and even death can occur. Signs of overdose include chest pain, hallucinations, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, difficulty breathing, and extreme drowsiness. The risk of overdose is significantly increased when Flexeril is combined with other drugs, particularly central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. This combination can cause extreme drowsiness and respiratory depression, but many people that abuse Flexeril will mix them anyway simply to increase the intoxication experienced.
Signs of a Flexeril Addiction
Professionals generally consider Flexeril to be non-addictive; however, there is evidence that Flexeril addiction is possible. Flexeril depresses the central nervous system, and some people find these effects to be desirable, which can lead to misuse. An individual might abuse Flexeril in order to feel relaxed, mildly euphoric, or sedated. In high doses, Flexeril produces a variety of anticholinergic effects, altering the activity of brain neurotransmitters. Chronic use of the drug can then cause physical dependence; a person that was simply taking a higher dose of Flexeril due to pain can become accustomed to the presence of the drug in the system and develop an addiction as a result. Additionally, Flexeril users may experience mild withdrawal symptoms if the drug is used chronically in high doses.
Signs that indicate someone may have a Flexeril addiction include:
- Taking Flexeril after it’s no longer needed or longer then prescribed
- Needing more and more of the drug to elicit the same effects
- Spending the majority of the day thinking about Flexeril: how to get more, the effects it produces, and when to use it
- Constantly using Flexeril and being unable to stop
- Faking symptoms to get Flexeril prescriptions
- Sudden changes in physical appearance, hygiene, and behavior
Another tall-tell sign of Flexeril addiction is abusing the medication in combination with another substance to produce a greater sense of euphoria. Alcohol is commonly abused alongside muscle relaxers like Flexeril because it heightens the side effects of both, causing the individual to experience a more intense sedation or high. People might also use Flexeril as a way to come down from stimulant drugs, such as cocaine or Adderall. When someone that is addicted to the drug attempts to stop taking it or reduce doses, he or she will start to experience withdrawal symptoms although they are typically not severe. Flexeril withdrawal symptoms can include headache, nausea, fatigue, and cravings for the drug.
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Flexeril Abuse Statistics
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that more than 50 million Americans aged 12 or over have abused a prescription drug at least once in their lives.
In 2011, U.S. physicians wrote 25.2 million prescriptions for Flexeril and other medications that contain cyclobenzaprine.
Within the last five years, emergency room department visits related to muscle relaxant abuse almost doubled; increasing from 15,830 to 31,763 visits.
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Finding Treatment for Flexeril Addiction
Flexeril can be an effective way to help manage debilitating pain associated with muscle injuries, but it’s important to remember that abuse of any drug is dangerous and can lead to the development of a serious addiction. If you think that someone you love may be abusing or addicted to Flexeril, don’t worry; there are multiple treatment options available. Contact a dedicated treatment provider and get started on the road towards recovery today.