List Of Commonly Abused Muscle Relaxers
Muscle relaxers are prescription drugs used to treat muscle spasms and muscle pain. They are often used in conjunction with physical therapy. Most of them are classified as central nervous system depressants.
When used as prescribed, muscle relaxers are safe and effective. However, some people abuse them. Muscle relaxer abuse can lead to serious health problems, including addiction.
Are Muscle Relaxers Addictive?
Muscle relaxers can be addictive if you use them in a manner not recommended by your healthcare provider.
For example, some people abuse muscle relaxers by mixing them with other CNS depressants like alcohol, opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines (prescription medications used to treat conditions like anxiety and insomnia).
Other people abuse muscle relaxers by taking them more often than prescribed, taking higher doses than prescribed, or taking them without a prescription.
Like other types of drug abuse, muscle relaxer abuse can quickly lead to addiction. Addiction is a serious disease that makes you feel unable to stop using a drug.
Symptoms Of Muscle Relaxer Addiction
The most common symptoms of muscle relaxer addiction include:
- frequent cravings for muscle relaxers
- tolerance, which means you need increasingly higher or more frequent doses of muscle relaxers to feel the desired effects
- physical dependence, which means you experience withdrawal symptoms (such as nausea, headache, or fatigue) when you don’t use muscle relaxers
- loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- avoidance of family and friends
- loss of motivation
Effects Of Muscle Relaxer Addiction
People who are addicted to muscle relaxers are much more likely than other people to experience the drugs’ side effects. These effects often include:
- dry mouth
- decreased blood pressure
In addition, some people develop more serious side effects, including anxiety, depression, and liver damage. They may also experience psychosis.
Psychosis is a temporary loss of connection that causes symptoms like confusion, delusions (beliefs that conflict with reality), and hallucinations (visions, sounds, or sensations that aren’t really there).
Muscle Relaxer Overdose
Muscle relaxer addiction also increases your risk of overdose. Common signs of a muscle relaxer overdose include:
- trouble breathing
- irregular heartbeat
- enlarged pupils
- flushed skin
- loss of consciousness
To reduce the risk of addiction and overdose, most doctors only prescribe muscle relaxers for short-term use. Also, they will often recommend that you try an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) before you try a prescription muscle relaxer.
Muscle Relaxers With Abuse Potential
The most commonly abused muscle relaxer is carisoprodol (brand name Soma).
According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 2,000,000 United States residents aged 12 and older have abused carisoprodol at least once.
Carisoprodol works similarly to benzodiazepines in that it enhances the effects of a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical not only relaxes your muscles but also makes you feel calm and relaxed.
In addition, like benzodiazepines, carisoprodol is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. That means it poses a higher risk of abuse and addiction than many other prescription drugs.
Baclofen is prescribed under the brand names Gablofen and Lioresal. It’s typically used to treat muscle spasms caused by cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries.
Chlorzoxazone is prescribed under the brand name Paraflex. It’s used to treat pain caused by muscle strains and sprains.
Cyclobenzaprine is prescribed under the brand names Flexeril and Amrix. It’s used to treat pain caused by muscle strains, sprains, and other injuries.
Diazepam is prescribed under the brand name Valium. It’s a benzodiazepine. In addition to treating muscle spasms, it can also ease anxiety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and seizures.
Metaxalone is prescribed under the brand name Skelaxin. Studies suggest that it causes fewer side effects than other muscle relaxers.
Methocarbamol is prescribed under the brand name Robaxin. Along with treating muscle spasms, it’s sometimes prescribed off-label to treat back pain.
Orphenadrine is prescribed under the brand names Norflex and Disipal. It’s also prescribed in combination with aspirin and caffeine under the brand names Norgesic, Orphengesic, and Invagesic.
Tizanidine is prescribed under the brand name Zanaflex. It’s used to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, stroke, or brain or spinal injury.
Muscle Relaxer Addiction Treatment Options
If you or someone you love feels unable to stop using muscle relaxers, seek help at a substance abuse treatment center. Our facilities offer a variety of services to help you become drug-free, including:
- medical detox, in which doctors will help you stop using muscle relaxers with minimal withdrawal symptoms
- mental health counseling, in which a therapist will help you manage drug cravings and other mental health concerns
- support groups, in which you can share your experiences with other people recovering from addiction
To learn more about drug addiction treatment options, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer personalized, evidence-based services to help you or your loved one build a healthy, sober life.
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