Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxer that is used to treat muscle spasms. It is also used for acute back injuries and pain that lead to muscle spasms. The brand names associated with cyclobenzaprine are Flexeril, Fexmid, and Amrix.
Cyclobenzaprine directly affects the brain, boosting the release of norepinephrine. It is said that it essentially changes how pain signals are sent to the brain, thereby limiting pain and spasms in the affected muscles.
It does have a few off-label uses, the most common being pain and spasms associated with fibromyalgia.
Other off-label uses include:
Cyclobenzaprine is only meant for short term use (usually two to three weeks) to help keep the muscles relaxed during physical therapy sessions. Anything beyond that can lead to tolerance, dependence, or addiction.
Like most drugs, cyclobenzaprine comes with a litany of side effects, especially if it’s used longer than needed.
The most common side effects are:
Some people have also reported side effects such as:
Addiction to cyclobenzaprine isn’t as common as other drugs, but it can still happen. According to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in 2010, more than 12,000 emergency room visits were related to cyclobenzaprine use.
Since this drug is intended to be used only for up to two to three weeks, use beyond that time can eventually lead to tolerance, causing you to take more for the desired effect. This can eventually lead to a physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms should you decide to stop taking it for whatever reason. Headache and nausea are the most common withdrawal symptoms.
Sometimes people combine cyclobenzaprine with other substances like alcohol or benzos to enhance the effects of either of the drugs. This can be quite dangerous. Common methods of using the drug are taking it orally, dissolving it in alcohol, or crushing it to be snorted. Many users of stimulants will sometimes take cyclobenzaprine to help them come off a stimulant high.
Perhaps you’re taking a drug that has cyclobenzaprine in it, and you’re wondering if you’ve become dependent on or addicted to it. Just as with any drug, observe your behavior. Has it changed? Are you exhibiting symptoms such as disheveled appearance, frequent mood swings, sudden weight loss or gain, changes in sleep habits, slurred speech, or impaired coordination? If so, you could be on the slippery road toward addiction.
Additional signs that indicate an addiction to cyclobenzaprine are:
Overdosing on a drug occurs when the toxins entering the body can’t be successfully metabolized, thus causing certain bodily functions to become significantly impaired.
Potential signs of overdose include:
Anyone experiencing any or all of these symptoms needs to be taken to the hospital right away for immediate medical attention.
If you have been using cyclobenzaprine for a long time, or if you start to come off it, or decide to go cold turkey, you are going to experience withdrawal symptoms. This happens because your body has become dependent on the drug’s effects.
As mentioned before, the most common withdrawal symptoms from cyclobenzaprine are nausea, headache, and lethargy. The severity will often depend on the dose, how long you have been using the drug, and whether you’re mixing it with other drugs.
The maximum dosage usually prescribed to patients is 30 mg (milligrams) per day, usually spaced out in three doses throughout the day. However, it’s been found that people who abuse cyclobenzaprine take twice that – sometimes more – to experience a heightened sense of sedation, relaxation, and euphoria.
Additionally, the U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) reports that people who abuse cyclobenzaprine can experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those that occur when coming off tricyclic antidepressants. Those withdrawal symptoms include:
Withdrawal symptoms from cyclobenzaprine aren’t as dangerous as those of some other drugs, but they can be extremely unpleasant for the person experiencing them.
Addiction to cyclobenzaprine can be dangerous, but there’s hope. If you’ve become addicted to the drug, you can seek help from an addiction treatment program to help you quit. If your doctor initially prescribed the drug, you can certainly discuss with them the current scenario and get their help in coming off it.
There are various treatment options to consider for anyone who’s been addicted to cyclobenzaprine.
Recovery and detox options are always available at hospital-based or residential programs. They provide 24-hour treatment, therapy, and medical supervision. This is especially helpful for you if you’ve been on the drug longer than suggested, or if you’ve recently survived an overdose. These programs can range from 28 days to six months or more, depending on your needs.
Outpatient treatment involves medical detox and treatment that doesn’t need 24-hour monitoring. This option also includes a variety of therapeutic approaches, such as individual or group counseling. You live at home and attend a certain number of weekly sessions at the outpatient facility.
Community-based treatments include peer-to-peer programs. Programs like Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, church groups like Celebrate Recovery, and various other support programs are in this group.
Luxury and executive treatment options offer spa-like treatment, private rooms, massage, and swimming in addition to recovery and detox. These are geared more toward celebrities, those with financial freedom, and working professionals.
There aren’t any FDA-approved medications to aid in recovery from an addiction to cyclobenzaprine. A physician, may, however, offer something to provide relief from your symptoms.
Doctors may also outline a weaning process to get off the drug. Instead of quitting cold turkey and dealing with the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, you will take fewer and fewer doses of cyclobenzaprine, giving your body time to balance itself without it. This process can take weeks, but it can help in managing withdrawal.
RX List. Cyclobenzaprine. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_cyclobenzaprine_flexeril/drugs-condition.htm
Live Science. Cyclobenzaprine. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/41517-cyclobenzaprine.html
American Family Physician. Cyclobenzaprine in the Treatment of Low Back Pain. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0201/od2.html