Suitable Treatment for Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) Abuse

2 min read · 4 sections

A prescription-based medication, cyclobenzaprine (known by the brand names Flexeril and Amrix) is similar to tricyclic antidepressants and being both diverted and abused, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports.

Designed for the short-term relief of limited motion and pain that may be caused by muscle spasms, cyclobenzaprine is a central nervous system muscle relaxer that may stop hyperactive nerve firings that can cause muscles to spasm.

The DEA reports that there were more than 25 million prescriptions written for cyclobenzaprine in 2011, which may be a common medication prescribed for back pain. Flexeril comes in tablet form in both immediate- and extended-release formations to be swallowed.

Who Abuses Flexeril and Why?

Dramatic image of a sad teenage girl cryingNIDA reports that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 (according to 2014 data) abuse prescription drugs at the highest rates of any other age demographic. Young adults may use the Internet to access information on how to abuse Flexeril and the possible desirable effects that may come from the drug’s recreational use. Flexeril may be used to heighten the effects of alcohol or other drugs when used recreationally.

Prescription drugs are abused across almost all age, gender, race, cultural, and socioeconomic demographics, however. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that prescription drug abuse is increasing for older adults in their 50s, which may be of particular concern due to the range of negative side effects that specifically impact this population group. Flexeril in particular is not even generally prescribed to the elderly population, according to the FDA, because of the high risk factors.

Additionally, individuals with a legitimate prescription to Flexeril may develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring them to take higher and more frequent doses to feel its effects. Drug dependence can develop wherein the brain becomes accustomed to the interaction of cyclobenzaprine and begins to rely on it in order to keep functioning the same way.

Dependence on cyclobenzaprine is recognized by the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the drug leaves the bloodstream. These may include fatigue, nausea, headache, and general malaise.

Understanding Drug Dependence and Addiction

The terms drug dependence and addiction are often used interchangeably; however, they are not the same thing. A dependence on a drug can occur independently of addiction. It is a physical reaction to the brain needing a particular drug to remain balanced. Drug dependence can form even when a drug is taken for medical reasons and used exactly as prescribed. Narcotic drugs, like opioids, and sedatives, like benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants (which are similar in structure to cyclobenzaprine), can cause physical dependence.

Medical help is needed to stop taking a drug after a person has become dependent on it, as withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings may be significant. Instead of stopping the drug suddenly, these drugs can be tapered off slowly, or their dosage slowly reduced over a period of time to minimize withdrawal. This should only be done under medical supervision. Significant dependence, often created by the nonmedical use of drugs, is best treated with medical detox where medications may be used and medical supervision is available around the clock.

Addiction is not just physical but also behavioral. Addiction is classified as a disease by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) that is related to changes in brain structure and chemical makeup as the result of substance abuse. The main indicator of drug addiction is a loss of control over drug use. An individual battling addiction may make multiple attempts to stop using the drug, may take more than intended at one time, or may take the drug for longer than initially desired. Individuals suffering from addiction may use drugs in situations that could potentially be hazardous and continue abusing them even when negative consequences are clear.

Signs of a Cyclobenzaprine Overdose

A drug overdose occurs when a toxin is unable to be successfully metabolized and removed from the body, and certain bodily functions are negatively affected. In the case of cyclobenzaprine, the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology reports that more than 100 mg of the drug taken in one dose can cause a toxic overdose.

The FDA publishes the following as potential overdose signs of Flexural:

  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of muscle control (ataxia)
  • Coma

Less common and more serious symptoms of a Flexeril overdose, according to the drug’s prescription information published by the FDA, include:

  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Extremely low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • The heart stops beating (cardiac arrest)
  • Irregular heart rate (cardiac dysrhythmia)
  • Fever, muscle rigidity, and altered mental state (neuroleptic malignant syndrome)

A toxic overdose necessitates immediate medical attention.

The DEA reported that in 2010, there were over 10,000 mentions of cyclobenzaprine in calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) published that in 2011, more than 11,000 people sought emergency department (ED) treatment for abuse of cyclobenzaprine.

Recovery Is Possible

If an overdose on cyclobenzaprine is suspected, call 911. Immediate medical attention is always needed in cases of overdose.

If you, or someone you love, have been struggling with Flexeril abuse, treatment is needed. With medical detox and comprehensive addiction treatment, you can leave such abuse in your past and embrace a happier, healthier future without substance abuse of any kind.

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