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Signs & Symptoms of Flexeril Abuse

Signs of Flexeril abuse include prolonged use, mixing with other substances, and experiencing sedation, slurred speech, or hallucinations. Abuse can lead to dizziness, heart problems, and severe overdose, particularly when combined with depressants. Treatment focuses on addressing the underlying issues of abuse and developing strategies for long-term recovery.

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Signs and symptoms of Flexeril abuse include using the medication without a prescription, using it for longer than prescribed, or combining it with other substances. Other signs include sedation, slurred speech, fatigue, agitation, and hallucinations, among others.

Flexeril is a skeletal muscle relaxant. It is sometimes abused on its own, but it is more often abused in combination with depressants such as alcohol or opioids. 

Abusing Flexeril is dangerous and can cause a number of health issues, including dizziness, confusion, heart problems, and breathing difficulties. Abuse of Flexeril has the potential to result in a life-threatening overdose, especially when mixed with other drugs.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Flexeril Abuse?

Flexeril is a brand-name skeletal muscle relaxant containing cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride. Used as intended, it can help relieve issues related to acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions. 

Some signs an individual might be abusing it include the following:

  • Using the medication for more than two or three weeks, which is generally the limit to how long it is prescribed
  • Using the medication when one doesn’t have a relevant musculoskeletal condition
  • Mixing Flexeril with the use of certain other drugs, including monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, alcohol, opioids, and other depressants

While the issue isn’t well studied, people engaging in muscle relaxant abuse don’t seem to generally be using the relaxant as their primary drug of abuse. Instead, they use these drugs alongside central nervous system depressants, with two of the more common drugs combined with relaxants being alcohol and opioids. It seems most people who abuse relaxants begin the abuse with a legitimate prescription for the muscle relaxant.

What Are the Dangers of Flexeril?

Flexeril can cause a number of adverse effects, including causing dry mucous membranes, dizziness, and confusion. If taken in a way different than prescribed or if a person has an unusual reaction to the medication, it has the potential to cause more serious side effects, including these:

  • Drowsiness
  • Heart complications
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Ataxia
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma

In cases of severe overdose, it may cause chest pain, cardiac arrest, severe hypotension, seizures, and other potentially life-threatening effects. 

Overdose on Flexeril

A person overdosing on Flexeril, especially if combining it with the use of depressants like alcohol, may experience severe respiratory distress. In other words, the effects of the drugs in their system may make it difficult or impossible to breathe in enough oxygen to support their body’s needs, causing a cascade of potentially life-threatening issues. 

Signs of such distress can include the following:

  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Skin color changes, especially around the mouth, inside of the lips, and fingernails
  • Grunting sounds when a person exhales
  • Increased sweating without the person feeling warm 
  • Potentially feeling cold or clammy
  • Wheezing when breathing
  • Difficulty speaking, with a person either unable to speak or speaking only in very short, clipped phrases

Any serious adverse reaction to Flexeril warrants immediate medical attention, even if a person experiences a symptom not listed in this section. Call 911 or visit a doctor immediately.

How to Treat Flexeril Overdose

If a person is experiencing an overdose on Flexeril, act quickly and seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency services right away. 

While waiting for medical help to arrive, stay with the person and try to keep them calm and awake. If the person is unconscious or having trouble breathing, perform CPR if you are trained to do so. If you cannot safely perform CPR, ask if anyone nearby is trained to perform CPR. 

Without proper medical guidance, refrain from attempting to induce vomiting or provide any medication to the person. 

Overdosing on Flexeril can have hazardous effects and can be deadly. To maximize the chances of helping a person without any lasting harm resulting from their overdose, be prompt in treating the situation as an emergency. Don’t wait for critical signs of an issue, such as the person losing consciousness, before calling 911 if you already suspect the person is having an overdose.

How to Recognize Flexeril Addiction

There is little to no evidence Flexeril is addictive. Even so, the abuse of this drug can still cause harm.  

Flexeril works by depressing the central nervous system, which can cause a feeling of relaxation or euphoria when taken in larger doses than prescribed. This can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped abruptly. 

Also, as noted earlier, taking Flexeril in higher doses than prescribed or in combination with other substances increases the risk of dangerous side effects.

While the drug may not be physically addictive, users can become psychologically addictive with repeated use. If this is the case, treatment for substance abuse and addiction is needed to effectively stop misusing the medication.

Flexeril Withdrawal Symptoms

There doesn’t appear to be significant evidence that Flexeril withdrawal is a common occurrence. The drug is chemically similar to tricyclic drugs, which have been known to sometimes cause withdrawal. 

In rare cases, abrupt cessation after taking Flexeril for a long period might result in nausea, headache, and malaise. It’s best to consult a medical professional before suddenly stopping use.

Treatment for Addiction

If you’ve been abusing Flexeril, it’s a sign that you need help. Substance abuse treatment is recommended to help you identify underlying issues that led you to Flexeril abuse. In therapy, you’ll acquire skills that help you to resist substance abuse in the future and that help you to build a better life in recovery.

Updated November 21, 2023
Resources
  1. Flexeril. (2001). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  2. Abuse of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants. (October 1991). American Family Physician.
  3. Cyclobenzaprine. (September 2022). StatPearls.
  4. Signs of Respiratory Distress. University of Rochester Medical Center.
  5. Abuse Liability of Centrally Acting Non-Opioid Analgesics and Muscle Relaxants – A Brief Update Based on a Comparison of Pharmacovigilance Data and Evidence From the Literature. (June 2014). International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.
  6. Long-Term Use of Muscle Relaxants Has Skyrocketed Since 2005. (June 2020). University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
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