Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) is a central nervous system (CNS) muscle relaxant commonly prescribed as short-term treatment for muscle injuries, pain, spasms, and tenderness. When taken as prescribed, Flexeril side effects are minimal and there are few long-term risks. The Drug Enforcement Administration does not currently have Flexeril scheduled as a controlled substance, though the drug does have a slight potential for abuse by some due to its sedating effects 1,2,3.
People may abuse Flexeril for its subjective high, which is characterized by feelings of sedation, relaxation, and mild euphoria. Most often, Flexeril is abused in combination with CNS depressants, such as:
It is also sometimes used in combination with drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, as people may abuse it to come down from a stimulant high. While the drug is generally safe when used as directed, Flexeril abuse can have many adverse effects 1,2,3.
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Side Effects of Abuse
There are many physical and psychological side effects that may occur when abusing Flexeril, some of which may become worse when combining it with alcohol or other drugs. Potential negative effects of Flexeril abuse include 1,2,3:
- Elevated heart rate.
- Excessive drowsiness.
- Dry mouth.
- Impaired cognitive function.
- Physiological dependence.
The risks of adverse effects from Flexeril abuse are greatly increased when combined with alcohol since the mixture intensifies the effects of both substances. While this may make for a stronger high, it also creates more dangerous side effects, including 4:
- Increased drowsiness and dizziness.
- Poor motor skills and cognitive function.
- Slowed, labored breathing.
- Memory loss.
- Abnormal behavior.
- Increased risk of alcohol poisoning or Flexeril overdose.
Flexeril use can become problematic for some people, and there is some evidence that cyclobenzaprine dependence can develop. However, withdrawal symptoms are not as common during Flexeril detox as they are for other drugs of abuse such as opiates, alcohol, or benzodiazepines. That said, some withdrawal symptoms may occur and are typically more common and intense when used in combination with alcohol or other drugs. A person who abruptly stops using Flexeril may experience symptoms such as 1,3:
- General malaise.
- Drug cravings.
Is It Possible to Overdose on Flexeril?
It is possible to overdose when a person takes a Flexeril dose that is too high or combines it with other drugs and alcohol. The most common symptoms of Flexeril overdose are 2,3:
- Excessive drowsiness.
- Rapid heartbeat.
Less-common Flexeril overdose symptoms that may occur, especially when combined with other drugs, include 2,3:
- Slurred speech.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- High blood pressure.
- Difficulty speaking or moving.
- Loss of consciousness.
Some rare and potentially critical effects of Flexeril overdose include 3:
- Severely low blood pressure.
- Heart rhythm disturbances.
- Chest pain.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), a life-threatening reaction characterized by altered mental status, fever, rigid muscles, and autonomic dysfunction.
Although rare, death can occur as a result of Flexeril overdose and is usually brought on by one of the potentially critical overdose effects listed above 3.
If you observe Flexeril overdose symptoms in yourself or someone else, seek professional medical help immediately. If the overdosing person has collapsed, is unresponsive, or no longer breathing, it is critical that they get medical care as soon as possible.
Do not attempt to treat the overdose at home. Contact 911 immediately.
Flexeril Abuse Treatment
There are many different treatment options a person suffering from Flexeril abuse or addiction may want to consider.
Medically supervised detox is often a first course of treatment for addicted people who are at risk of experiencing troublesome withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, medications may be administered to help make the process more comfortable and, in doing so, may help decrease the likelihood of immediate relapse.
While not everyone who abuses Flexeril will experience withdrawal symptoms, there are some people who would benefit from supervised detox services, such as those who mix Flexeril and alcohol or other drugs.
Individual and group counseling are important components of any addiction treatment program because they help people mentally and emotionally cope with the withdrawal effects of Flexeril and uncover the subconscious drives and emotions that may contribute to their drug abuse.
Counseling also provides people with an opportunity to discover their triggers and to learn and use alternative coping skills.
Support groups and 12-step programs provide the support of other people to help you stay focused on your goal of sobriety. Peers can help remind each other of the negative consequences of drug use, as well as encourage the use of healthy coping skills.
Many inpatient treatment programs are set in a residential facility on a 24-hour basis for a designated period, usually at least 30 days.
By residing in the facility full-time, patients can focus exclusively on their recovery without the added pressures and stressors of the outside world. Inpatient treatment provides a combination of detox services, medical care, counseling, and support groups, so this intensive, round-the-clock care is typically better suited for those with more severe cases of Flexeril addiction, such as polysubstance abusers who mix Flexeril with alcohol or other drugs.
Outpatient treatment also consists of some combination of detox, counseling, and peer support, except that care takes place on a part-time basis while the patient continues to reside in their home.
This type of treatment is generally less expensive and more accessible for many people. Those with relatively less severe addiction issues who wish to remain active in their personal and professional lives during treatment typically prefer outpatient rehab programs. Patients can continue to work, go to school, and fulfill other responsibilities while still making a commitment to their recovery.
Aftercare is perhaps one of the most important (and often forgotten) elements of treatment. Many people assume that when they complete their initial rehab program that addiction treatment is over, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing illness, so to help maintain long-term recovery, it is important that patients have a solid aftercare plan in place by the time they discharge from their treatment program.
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing illness, so to help maintain long-term recovery, it is important that patients have a solid aftercare plan in place by the time they discharge from their treatment program.
Aftercare treatment emphasizes relapse prevention to maximize the chances of sustained sobriety. This typically consists of:
- Continued individual and group counseling.
- Regularly attending support groups or 12-step meetings.
- Having a sponsor or other designated person who can be called upon when a person feels at risk of relapse.
Clients with severe addictions may need more intensive aftercare treatment, such as medication maintenance, routine drug testing, or residing in a sober living community for a designated time after completing rehab. Non-pharmacologic pain management approaches may also supplement any solid aftercare strategy for those who began abusing Flexeril in association with injury or chronic pain.
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing illness, so to help maintain long-term recovery, it is important that patients have a solid aftercare plan in place by the time they discharge from their treatment program. Aftercare treatment emphasizes relapse prevention to maximize the chances of sustained sobriety. This typically consists of continued individual and group counseling, regularly attending support groups or 12-step meetings, and having a sponsor or other designated person who can be called upon when a person feels at risk of relapse.
It is important to understand that each person’s Flexeril addiction is unique, so no single treatment will work for everyone. Because Flexeril is often abused in combination with other drugs, different courses of treatment may be used to treat co-occurring addictions. For example, those who are addicted to Flexeril as well as alcohol or opiates may be initiated on an applicable medication-assisted treatment regimen to help manage these concurrent substance dependencies.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Flexeril abuse, contact our recovery support team for information about addiction treatment options by calling 1-888-744-0069 .
- Drug Enforcement Association. (2013). Cyclobenzaprine.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Cyclobenzaprine.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2003). Flexeril.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines.