Flexeril interferes with the brain’s natural processes. And it’s slow to leave the bloodstream. You may find yourself taking more than your doctor recommends, and it can be difficult to stop taking the drug once you start.
If you’re abusing Flexeril, you’re not alone. Plenty of people have the same problem. You can get treatment for that issue, and when you do, you could regain the control you lost due to addiction.
What Does Flexeril Do?
Individual muscle fibers are the target of most pain medications. When those cells relax and release, movement returns and pain tends to fade. Flexeril is different.
This drug works by altering chemical signals in the brain. Most people feel sleepy while taking Flexeril, and they don’t move around much. That rest and sedation could, in theory, help pain to fade.
In addition to drowsiness, Medscape says, Flexeril can cause side effects.
Flexeril can also tinker with the heart’s signaling system. When that happens, you might feel like your heart is beating irregularly or too quickly.
The real danger with Flexeril, experts say, involves its slow digestion. Your liver processes the molecules, and it can take more than 18 hours for half of it to fade from your blood. When you start to feel sick, you have to wait a long time for the rest of the drug to stop working.
The drug is also remarkably powerful, and that worries some doctors and pharmacists. In 1999, for example, officials considered moving Flexeril to an over-the-counter status, so people in pain could get it without a prescription. Pharmacists wrote articles in the publication Drug Topics and said their clients felt “knocked out” while taking it, and that it interferes with many other drugs.
People using the drug needed supervision, they said, and they couldn’t get behind the idea of handing it out to everyone.
What Does Abuse Look Like?
When your physician gives you a prescription, it’s your job to take the drug as prescribed. If you take your pills on the schedule your doctor laid out, there’s no reason to suspect you have an addiction. But if you’re following your own rules, you could have a problem.
An addiction is characterized by:
- Big doses. Your doctor tells you to take one pill at a time. You take three.
- Shortened timeframes. You’re told to take the drug every four hours. You take it every three hours.
- Preoccupation. You find yourself thinking about Flexeril and when you can have the next dose. You plan your day around your pills.
- Loss of control. You don’t want to take more pills. You tell yourself you won’t. But you find it’s difficult or impossible to stop.
How Can Abuse Hurt You?
While Flexeril is considered safe when used as prescribed, it’s important to know that the drug isn’t benign. It’s made by pharmaceutical companies and sold in pharmacies, but it still can harm or even kill you.
Research published in American Family Physician suggests that serious Flexeril side effects include:
- Arrhythmias. Your heart beats in a fast, irregular manner. Muscle fibers can be damaged, and blood clots can form.
- Seizures. You lose consciousness, and your muscles move on their own, in ways you can’t control. Your body temperature rises during these episodes, and that can lead to organ failure.
- Heart attacks. Your heart stops beating altogether, or it moves in an unusual way. Tissues can die without adequate blood flow, and clots can form.
The National Institutes of Health reports that Flexeril can harm liver cells. This organ works overtime to clear the drug from your body, and research suggests that use can lead to unusual liver function. Your skin and eyes might turn yellow, and toxins might build up in your blood. The more Flexeril you take, the more likely this problem becomes.
Large doses can also lead to an overdose. Seizures, confusion, dizziness, and loss of consciousness are a few symptoms associated with a dose that overwhelms the body. Rapid medical attention is required, as this is a life-threatening emergency.
How Common Is Flexeril Abuse?
Researchers look at emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers when attempting to determine how often people abuse a drug. After all, people with an addiction issue tend to take a lot of the target drug, and they often take doses too close together.
Many people like this need medical help. That data suggests that Flexeril abuse is relatively common.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says that emergency room visits due to Flexeril rose 101 percent between 2004 and 2010. And in 2010, close to 11,000 phone calls to poison control centers were due to this drug.
That popularity could be due to:
- How many doctors use medications for back pain. Researchers say 35 percent of people with back pain are given medications, even though drugs aren’t proven to help people recover.
- How long people stay on the drug. Flexeril prescriptions should be short, so you don’t have time to develop physical dependence on the drug. But researchers say about half of people who get a prescription stay on the drug for more than a year.
- How strong the drug is. Your brain notices powerful drugs and the changes they deliver. Since Flexeril is incredibly potent, it’s easy for your brain to remember. And the damage it causes is acute.
How Is Addiction Treated?
Imagine that you’ve developed an addiction to Flexeril. As much as you’d like to stop, and as hard as you work to make it happen, you can’t make the switch. What happens now? Treatment can help.
An addiction treatment program progresses in stages. You’ll move through:
- Detox. You’ll get help from medical teams as your body processes the remaining Flexeril in your bloodstream.
- Therapy. You’ll work one on one with counselors and in groups with other people who have addictions. You’ll understand how the problem started, and you’ll get help so you can avoid the urge to use in the future.
- Aftercare and support. When active treatment is through, you’ll remain connected to the recovery community. You will have someone to lean on when things get tough.