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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 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. This pain-blocking mechanism can contribute to abuse of the medication and may result in Flexeril addiction.
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Taking Flexeril can improve sleep, motor skills, and energy levels in patients 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:
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; 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. 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 alcohol or Benzodiazepines. This combination can cause extreme drowsiness and respiratory depression, but many people that abuse Flexeril will mix the substances anyway simply to increase the intoxication experienced.
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Professionals generally consider Flexeril to be nonaddictive; however, there is evidence that Flexeril addiction is possible. Flexeril depresses the central nervous system, an effect some find desirable, which can lead to misuse. An individual might abuse Flexeril in order to feel relaxed, mildly euphoric, or sedated. Flexeril produces a variety of anticholinergic effects in high doses, altering the activity of brain neurotransmitters. Chronic use of the drug can lead to 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:
Another telltale 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 the substances amplify each others’ effects, 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 people addicted to Flexeril attempt to stop taking it or reduce their doses they may start to experience withdrawal symptoms, although these are typically not severe. Flexeril withdrawal symptoms can include headache, nausea, fatigue, and cravings for the drug.
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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, US 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; they increased from 15,830 to 31,763 visits.
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 treatment provider for rehab-related help today.
Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature. She has always had a passion for literature and the written word. Upon graduation, Jena found her purpose in educating the public on addiction and helping those that struggle with substance dependency find the best treatment options available.
Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional
Theresa Parisi is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) with over 12 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.
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