Drug and Alcohol

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril): Addiction, Abuse & Side Effects

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) abuse is a misunderstood form of prescription drug abuse. Learn more about cyclobenzaprine addiction in our blog.

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril): Addiction, Abuse & Side Effects

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 31, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Drug abuse has become a pandemic that is impacting the masses in some way or the other. One such drug that is often abused is Cyclobenzaprine. 

Cyclobenzaprine is a prescription drug sold under the Flexeril brand name, a very popular muscle relaxant that belongs to the same class of drugs as tricyclic antidepressants. It is often prescribed to help relieve muscle spasms and associated pain. However, Cyclobenzaprine is available only with a prescription and may have potential side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, and blurred vision.

Taking this medication exactly as prescribed and talking to a doctor if any concerning side effects occur is essential. The generic form of the drug was initially authorized for use in 1977 and is available in both immediate and extended-release formulations.

Even though the drug is not yet classified as a controlled substance in the United States, Cyclobenzaprine can be abused, resulting in increased tolerance and addiction. As a result, it is often sought after under the street names Flexies, Cyclone, and Mellow yellow.

Cyclobenzaprine abuse can lead to a range of negative consequences, including addiction and overdose. People may misuse the medication if they don't read the directions correctly, mix it with other drugs or narcotics, or take too much of it. Misuse of any kind can be dangerous because it can lead to adverse side effects or even an overdose and death. Therefore, any form of the drug should only be taken as directed and following the instructions on the package or by the doctor – just as with any prescription medication. 

By the Numbers:

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse and Statistics (NCDAS), the United States records more than 70,000 deaths annually resulting from drug overdoses. Drug overdose deaths rise by 4.0% annually; between 2012 and 2015, synthetic opioid (excluding methadone) deaths increased by an alarming rate of 264% in the United States.

From 1999 to 2017, overall drug overdoses resulted in the deaths of over 700,000 people in the country. Prescription drugs were a major contributor to these numbers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that over 50 million Americans aged 12 or above have abused a prescription drug at least once.

What Is Cyclobenzaprine?

A prescription muscle relaxant drug, Cyclobenzaprine, is prescribed for pain caused by muscle spasms and aches. It can also be administered for fibromyalgia. Cyclobenzaprine affects the central nervous system and blocks the sensation of pain. This prevents pain messages from traveling from the muscles to the brain. Unfortunately, this pain-blocking property can make it addictive as users may start taking the drug in heavier doses than prescribed to deal with pain. This can increase their tolerance to the drug.

The drug is available in tablets, capsules, and powder. People also dissolve it in alcohol or crush the tablets to inhale the drug and use its euphoric properties. Although intended for short-term use, Cyclobenzaprine is often abused for its narcotic-like effects, which include feelings of relaxation and sedation. In addition, combining the drug with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or other narcotics can intensify its effects.

What Formes Does Cyclobenzaprine Come In?

The answer to this question depends on the formulation of cyclobenzaprine someone is taking. Here are some examples:

Fexmid

An oral tablet of Fexmid (a brand name for cyclobenzaprine) comes in a 7.5 mg tablet.

Flexeril

Flexeril tablets come in 5mg and 10 mg doses.

Cyclobenzaprine

The generic form of cyclobenzaprine comes in 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg tablets.

How Much Cyclobenzaprine Should Someone Take?

Like any drug, it's always best to discuss dosages with one's doctor. However, here is a quick list of the average dosages for patients:

  • Adults: 5 to 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine three times a day

  • Teens: 5 to 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine three times a day

  • Senior Citizen (Age 65 and up): Older people tend to process cyclobenzaprine more slowly, and thus experience more side effects. Most senior citizens start on lower doses of cyclobenzaprine.

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Should some People Avoid Taking Cyclobenzaprine?

Yes, there are some people who should not take cyclobenzaprine. These include:

  • People with a history of glaucoma

  • People with an overactive thyroid gland

  • People with heart disease or arrhythmias

  • People taking certain other medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women

  • People with a history of drug abuse

If you have any of these conditions, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking cyclobenzaprine. Additionally, if you experience any side effects while taking this medication, contact your doctor right away. It is also important to note that cyclobenzaprine is not suitable for people in their early teens or younger.

Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication, and make sure you follow their instructions carefully in order to get the best results.

How Long Does It Take for Cyclobenzaprine to Work?

Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant that works by blocking certain nerve impulses from reaching the brain. It can be used to treat muscle spasms and pain caused by strains, sprains, or other muscle injuries. Most people who take cyclobenzaprine will begin to feel relief within a few hours of taking it.

However, for some people, it may take up to two weeks for the full effects of the medication to be felt.

In order for cyclobenzaprine to work most effectively, it is important that you follow the instructions provided by your doctor carefully. This includes taking the correct dosage at regular intervals as prescribed. Make sure to complete the full course of treatment in order to get the best results.

Additionally, it is important to combine cyclobenzaprine with other treatments such as massage, physical therapy, and stretching exercises as directed by your doctor.

It is also important to note that cyclobenzaprine can cause some side effects, which may include drowsiness or dizziness. If you experience any of these side effects, contact your doctor right away. Additionally, if you have any allergies to cyclobenzaprine or other medications, let your doctor know before taking this medication.

Because of the potential risks associated with taking cyclobenzaprine, it is important to talk to your doctor if you think this medication could be beneficial for treating your muscle spasms and pain.

How Long Do You Feel the Effects of Cyclobenzaprine?

The effects of Flexeril can last up to 12 hours, depending on the person. However, it is important to take the medication as prescribed by your doctor in order to get the best results. Do not try to increase or decrease the dosage on your own as this could cause serious side effects.

It is also important to note that cyclobenzaprine can cause sedation and drowsiness. This means that you should not drive or operate machinery after taking this medication as your reaction time may be affected.

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What Are the Effects of Long-Term Cyclobenzaprine Use?

It is generally not advised to take Flexeril for long-term use, as there is a risk of addiction or other side effects. If you have taken this medication regularly for more than two weeks without consulting your doctor first, it is important that you talk to them about stopping the medication safely.

Long-term use of cyclobenzaprine has been associated with headaches, confusion, dry mouth, and blurred vision. Additionally, people who take cyclobenzaprine for an extended period of time may also experience liver damage or other serious side effects.

Does Flexeril Make You Feel Sleepy?

Yes, cyclobenzaprine can cause drowsiness and sedation. This is why it is important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after taking this medication. Additionally, some people may also experience dizziness and fatigue while on cyclobenzaprine.

If you do feel sleepy while taking cyclobenzaprine, it is best to avoid activities that require a high level of alertness or concentration such as driving. Additionally, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing excessive sleepiness so that they can adjust the dosage or recommend an alternative treatment.

It is also important to note that alcohol should be avoided while taking cyclobenzaprine, as this can increase drowsiness and other side effects.

What Drugs Does Flexeril Interact With?

Cyclobenzaprine can interact with other medications including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. It is important to tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you are taking before starting cyclobenzaprine.

Some drugs that can interact with cyclobenzaprine include sedatives such as:

  • Benzodiazepines

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

  • Antidepressants

  • Certain pain medications

It is also important to note that cyclobenzaprine may interact with alcohol and other substances that cause drowsiness, so it should be avoided while taking this medication.

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Should You Drive After Taking Flexeril?

It is generally not advised to drive after taking cyclobenzaprine, as it can cause drowsiness and impair your reaction time. If you do need to drive after taking this medication, make sure that you wait until the effects have worn off.

Additionally, avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication, as it can further increase drowsiness and other side effects.

Is Cyclobenzaprine Addiction Common?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that approximately 54 million individuals aged 12 and above have misused prescription drugs, including Cyclobenzaprine, at least once in their lifetime. Access to the drug is relatively easy as it is not a controlled substance and is also prescribed to patients with muscle pains.

Young adults are the most common abusers of prescription medications like Cyclobenzaprine. They typically acquire them from friends or family members if they do not resort to illicit sources for purchasing them online. Even individuals with a legitimate prescription for Cyclobenzaprine are at risk of developing an addiction. If they continue to use it over an extended period and consume higher or more frequent doses than advised, they can push their threshold for the substance. 

Is Cyclobenzaprine a Narcotic Drug Like Fentanyl?

No. Painkillers like fentanyl, OxyContin, heroin, and morphine are all either derivatives of the opium plant or synthetic opioids. Flexeril isn't an opioid at all. Opioids work by attaching to certain nerve receptors; cyclobenzaprine blocks nerve impulses

That said, it's entirely possible to abuse and get addicted to cyclobenzaprine.

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Side-Effects of Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)

The side effects of abusing Cyclobenzaprine can be manageable at times, but there are chances of adverse impacts as well. These effects typically depend on the user, the frequency of taking the drug, the quantity of the drug, and other such factors. The side effects of abusing Flexeril can be:

  • Feeling confused and not being able to think clearly 

  • Little muscle control

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Slurred and unclear speech

  • Feeling dizzy 

  • Agitation and unnecessary anger 

  • Unexpectedly high blood pressure

  • Increased heart rate

  • Tremors

  • Coma

Abusing the drug can sometimes, unfortunately, lead to an overdose of the drug. Flexeril is often misused for its calming effects, leading individuals to increase their dosage to enhance these effects. Overdose of Flexeril or Cyclobenzaprine can be hazardous to health. Some of the effects of a cyclobenzaprine overdose include:

  • Fever

  • Seizures

  • Chest pains 

  • Cardiac arrest

  • Dangerously low blood pressure

  • Central nervous system depression 

  • Sometimes even death 

The chances of overdose are considerably higher when Cyclobenzaprine is consumed with other drugs, especially alcohol or Benzodiazepines. Although this combination can cause extreme drowsiness and respiratory depression, individuals who abuse Flexeril frequently mix these substances to intensify the feeling of intoxication.

Signs of Cyclobenzaprine Addiction

Just as with most other drugs, Flexeril or cyclobenzaprine overuse can affect how the body and brain work. Dependence on the drug, as discussed, results from long-term abuse, when the user starts to feel that they cannot survive or even function like they usually do without it. As the body develops an increased tolerance to the drug, it requires a larger dose than the initial one to relax muscles, relieve pain, or provide healing effects. Signs that you or someone you know may be addicted or getting addicted to cyclobenzaprine can be:

  • If someone is struggling to limit their usage of cyclobenzaprine

  • If they are encountering withdrawal symptoms from the drug if and when its effects fade away

  • Someone may be engaging in illegal activities such as stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions for Cyclobenzaprine

  • They may be consuming Cyclobenzaprine in doses exceeding the prescribed amount

  • If someone is combining Cyclobenzaprine with other illegal drugs or alcohol

  • Exhibiting intense mood swings or hostility

  • When someone asks for early refills or claims to have lost prescriptions

  • Soliciting cyclobenzaprine prescriptions from multiple doctors, also known as doctor shopping 

If you know someone who displays these signs and symptoms, it is time to help them. Try to confront them, but be prepared, as they will most likely not accept their addiction. Instead, they will try to pass it off with some excuse and cover it up with one thing or the other. If you cannot offer them help or are unwilling to take your help, it is time for professional intervention.

Suggest a doctor or counselor to them so that someone with experience can handle the situation. This is essential to their health. 

Who Is at Risk of Cyclobenzaprine Addiction?

Cyclobenzaprine, under the brand name Flexeril, is made to treat a variety of pains, muscle spasms, and other conditions that require a muscle relaxant. Because of this, developing an addiction to Flexeril may not be intentional. The medication is prone to abuse due to its low cost and easy availability. Individuals with a genuine medical need for cyclobenzaprine may still be more susceptible to developing an addiction to the drug.

Those with a higher risk of abusing prescription drugs might also display the following traits:

  • People who may have had a substance abuse problem in the past may relapse when taking Flexeril 

  • If someone has seen substance abuse closely – in the family or in a close friend circle, they may be prone to it 

  • Any individual who is constantly exposed to a social environment where drug use is accepted and encouraged is highly vulnerable 

  • Someone with specific co-occurring mental issues

  • If someone is not fully aware of the risks of abusing a prescription drug may also be prone to addiction as they will not know why they need to stop

It is crucial to understand that addiction is a complex issue, and everyone who uses Flexeril doesn't need to become addicted. Nonetheless, if you or someone you know is showing signs of addiction to Flexeril, it is vital to seek help from an addiction specialist or healthcare provider. Several treatments are accessible to promote recovery and aid in addiction management.

The initial step to do this systematically and safely is acceptance - acknowledging that there may be a problem and that help is needed. 

Withdrawal Symptoms of Cyclobenzaprine

One of the primary signs of addiction to cyclobenzaprine is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the drug's effect wears off. While these symptoms may not pose an immediate danger on their own, they can also worsen the withdrawal from other substances. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals struggling with cyclobenzaprine addiction to seek professional help to manage their withdrawal symptoms carefully. This should be done at a rehab center, where the underlying issues that drive the addiction will also be addressed.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms caused by a cyclobenzaprine addiction can include severe headaches, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, fever, chills, and general discomfort. If you are trying to stop the consumption of cyclobenzaprine and are experiencing withdrawal, the severity of these withdrawal symptoms can be controlled. Tapering off the dosage of Flexeril is one of the most effective ways to do this. However, if the symptoms are causing extra discomfort and getting out of control, a medically-guided detox program may help. 

What Is the Withdrawal Timeline for Cyclobenzaprine?

Every drug has a different timeline for withdrawal. This is what the withdrawal timeline for Cyclobenzaprine typically looks like:

24 – 48 Hours After the Last Consumption

1 to 2 days after the a person takes the last drug dose, they may feel general discomfort and other flu symptoms. 

2 – 4 Days After the Last Consumption

This is when the withdrawal symptoms from Flexeril kick in and are at their worst. 

Up to 2 Weeks After the Last Consumption

Though withdrawal symptoms are likely to last up to 2 weeks after the last time a person consumes Cyclobenzaprine, they will gradually become less severe after two weeks. 

Despite being very general, this timeline is not a fixed one. Results vary from person to person, depending on their unique condition and addiction severity.

Treatment for Cyclobenzaprine Addiction/Flexeril Abuse

Once an addiction is accepted and the need for professional assistance is recognized, the journey to recovery for a person begins. Taking the first step towards seeking help is a significant aspect of the recovery process, as it demonstrates a willingness to address the problem and make positive changes. Although it may be a difficult and challenging time, always remember your health and life is worth emerging from the struggle.

Depending on the severity of a patient's Flexeril addiction, they may require detoxification or be able to proceed directly to a rehabilitation program – this is something the professional detox guides or medical consultants at a drug detox center will determine, depending on their condition. For individuals with mild addiction, reducing the drug dosage and frequency of consumption is easy enough to manage the addiction.

However, suddenly stopping the drug could result in serious withdrawal symptoms, increasing the risk of relapse. Therefore, tapering off the drug gradually helps manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.

Once you have had a face-to-face meeting with an addiction counselor, you can work with them to build a recovery program that works for you and is tailored to your specific requirements. Whether you opt for inpatient drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab care, the plans you will be involved in during rehab include intensive counseling, meetings, support group sessions, group therapy, one-on-one sessions, family therapy, and other health-focused activities. 

Want to Leave Flexeril Abuse Behind? Get Treated for Cyclobenzaprine Addiction at the Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center offers comprehensive services to help recovering addicts achieve long-term recovery and improved health and well-being. We provide medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and more to help people dealing with prescription drug addiction. substances.

Our center's patient-centered approach is grounded in evidence-based practices and compassionate care, ensuring that each person's unique needs and circumstances are considered. By offering various treatment options and a supportive environment, The Edge Treatment Center empowers individuals to take control of their recovery journey and make positive changes in their lives.

Want to learn more about leaving cyclobenzaprine abuse behind? Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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