What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Flexeril Abuse?
Flexeril is the most popular brand name for the generic medication cyclobenzaprine, which is a prescription muscle relaxer. This medication is prescribed to ease muscle pain from strains or sprains. Because the body rapidly develops a tolerance to it, prescriptions usually do not last longer than three weeks. In addition, Flexeril is occasionally prescribed off-label for fibromyalgia, and because the medication is a CNS depressant related to tricyclic antidepressants, it is also being investigated as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Cyclobenzaprine was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prescription use in the United States in 1977. Although the drug has been diverted for illicit use, it is not regulated through the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) drug schedules, defined by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Although Flexeril is allegedly not addictive, similar to how many antidepressants are not considered addictive, the drug is designed to induce relaxation in the body. People who abuse Flexeril do so to achieve a sense of calm and relaxing sleepiness. Additionally, at high doses, the drug can disrupt some neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to mental and physical impairment that is like being intoxicated.
Allegedly, intoxication from Flexeril causes a sensation of floating outside of one’s body and feeling extremely relaxed. Very high doses of the drug can induce hallucinations.
People who purchase illicit Flexeril refer to the drug as cyclone or mellow yellow because the pills are yellow in color.
The DAWN Report, which tracks emergency room treatment related to substance abuse, noted an 87 percent increase in the number of people admitted to the ER for Flexeril abuse – from 6,183 in 2004 to 11,151 in 2011. The DEA notes that an increase in anecdotal reports online suggest that people abusing Flexeril mix the drug with other substances to enhance psychoactive effects from the other drugs. Polydrug abuse is very dangerous and increases the risk of overdose.
Side Effects from Flexeril
If a person is abusing Flexeril, they are more likely to experience side effects from the drug since they are consuming large quantities in order to get high. Side effects from Flexeril include:
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
People who take too much Flexeril, or abuse the drug for nonmedical reasons, are at a greater risk of overdosing on the substance. Signs of overdose include seizures, depressed breathing, unusual or reduced motor function, and amnesia. When Flexeril is mixed with other CNS depressants, especially alcohol, the medication’s dangerous side effects are more likely to occur.
High doses of Flexeril can lead to irregular heartbeat and depressed breathing, which can be very dangerous. These conditions can cause lasting physical damage, especially if the person does not receive emergency medical attention quickly enough.
A person who has taken a large amount of Flexeril will appear drowsy, physically floppy, or relaxed. Their pupils may be dilated, breathing could be slow or shallow, and the skin may be cold or pale. If the person is awake, they may appear confused or drunk, with trouble balancing and slurred speech.
If a person has used a prescription medication appropriately, for medical reasons and with doctor supervision, they can develop a physical dependence on the drug that can lead to withdrawal symptoms if the prescription is suddenly stopped. Many antidepressant medications are tapered slowly so the person’s body can reach a level of balance on its own, without experiencing withdrawal. It is possible for a person who takes Flexeril as prescribed to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication; however, withdrawal is also a potential symptom that the person is struggling with Flexeril abuse.
Flexeril withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headache, and malaise. Psychological withdrawal symptoms can include cravings and anxiety about taking more Flexeril; these are more likely to occur if the person is struggling with Flexeril addiction.
Behavior Changes Due to Flexeril Abuse
When a person struggles with an addiction, to Flexeril or other substances, they may display changes in behavior. Some of these include:
- Lying about ingesting Flexeril or how often they take it
- Becoming defensive or aggressive when Flexeril use is questioned
- Feeling like they must take the drug every day or several times per day
- Experiencing intense cravings for the drug between doses
- Spending too much money on the drug
- Making sure they have a supply of Flexeril available
- Obsessing about where to get more of the drug
- Compulsively taking the drug, even if they do not want to anymore
- Changes in health and/or hygiene
- Doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions
- Failing to meet personal obligations at work, school, social events, or family functions
- Choosing to take drugs instead of participating in other activities
- Stealing money or drugs
- Emotionally hurting others or ending relationships because of drug use
- Struggling financially due to purchasing Flexeril illicitly
These changes in behavior, along with physical signs of intoxication or withdrawal, indicate that the person needs help overcoming an addiction to Flexeril.
Get Help Ending Flexeril Addiction
To overcome an addiction, an individual must work with a doctor for a medically supervised detox program to come off of the substance, then enter a rehabilitation program. Therapy offered through rehabilitation programs helps the person learn how to cope with stress without abusing substances and teaches ways to maintain sobriety. Group and family therapy at a rehabilitation program can also help to build social support to maintain sobriety and to heal relationships that may have been harmed during the course of the addiction.