This guide explains the effects, trends, and dangers of Flexeril use, as well as an unbiased analysis of the medicinal and behavioral treatment methods for Flexeril addiction based on current research and publicly available statistics. In some cases, usage statistics are derived from general prescription muscle relaxant use, which includes antispasmodics and antispastics.
|Derived From||Derived from synthetic substances; may contain iron oxide, magnesium stearate, and other inactive ingredients|
|Ways Used||Oral tablets|
|Scientific Name||Cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride|
|Slang/Street Names for Flexeril||Cyclone, mellow yellow|
|How Long in Bodily System||Half-life: 8-37 hours (average of 18 hours)
Elimination typically occurs within three days, but it may take longer in chronic users.
|Punitive Legal Measures: Using/Possession||Penalties vary by state, but a conviction for possession of Flexeril without a valid prescription may result in fines, jail time, and/or required participation in a drug rehabilitation program.|
|Punitive Legal Measures: Selling/Distributing||Penalties for selling/distributing Flexeril also vary by state. In Florida, for example, selling or distributing Flexeril without a license may be charged as a felony, which is a serious offense. If convicted, an individual may be penalized with more than 10 years in jail or $10,000 or more in fines.|
|DEA Drug Rating||Not a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act|
Flexeril works on the brain stem to reduce motor activity, which can affect the action of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals send messages from nerve cells to target cells, such as muscle cells or the cells in the glands of the endocrine system, either inhibiting or increasing electrical activity in those cells.
Researchers don’t understand exactly what causes Flexeril to relax the muscles, but some suspect that it works on a neurotransmitter called GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. When GABA attaches to receptors in the brain, it produces a calming effect. It’s this calming effect that may lead to a sense of euphoria or enhanced well-being, causing some individuals to start misusing Flexeril.
It can be difficult to identify Flexeril addiction at first, but over time, behavioral changes start to appear. Flexeril is known to cause aggressive behavior, paranoia and delusions, especially at high doses. Individuals with paranoia may believe that other people are out to get them, or they may believe that they’re being threatened even if they’re not. People with paranoia may also think that the people around them are involved in conspiracies.
In some cases, paranoia turns into full-fledged delusions, which are characterized by irrational thoughts and beliefs. No matter how hard they try, loved ones cannot persuade the individual that their thoughts and feelings aren’t real.
Flexeril abuse can also lead to changes in how an individual behaves at work or in an academic environment. An employee who abuses Flexeril may start showing up late, missing work more often than usual or having trouble completing assignments on time. Aggressive behavior may also interfere with work relationships or cause the individual to lose his or her job. In students, Flexeril abuse can cause a decline in academic performance. Students may also skip school, stop doing their homework assignments, or display aggressive behavior when communicating with teachers or classmates.
Flexeril affects the body in several ways, some of which depend on the dosage and whether the individual takes it with alcohol or other substances. The main effect of Flexeril is relaxation of the muscles, but taking this medication can also cause the individual’s blood pressure to drop. Because Flexeril has an inhibitory effect, it also causes drowsiness and fatigue. Chronic use may lead to headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and mood changes.
Early physical effects of Flexeril typically develop within one hour of taking the drug. These effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and muscle relaxation. Some users experience dry mouth, lower blood pressure, and a slowed heart rate within the first hour of taking Flexeril.
|Short-term Physical Symptoms|
|Initial (direct effects of drug, 30 – 60 min.)||Dizziness
|Lingering (within an hour of taking the drug)||Dizziness
|Post-Use (several hours to days after use)||Fatigue
Dependence (more likely at higher doses of the drug)
Flexeril has a legitimate use as a muscle relaxant to relieve the pain associated with muscle spasms, strains, and sprains; however, long-term use of this medication can lead to severe long-term effects. One of the potential outcomes is tachycardia or an increased heart rate. In some individuals, tachycardia caused by Flexeril use can also lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Because Flexeril can dilate the blood vessels, it can also cause a serious drop in blood pressure, which may lead to fainting.
Long-term use of Flexeril can also lead to adverse events involving the digestive system. For example, some users develop diarrhea or gastrointestinal discomfort, while others experience vomiting, inflammation of the stomach, or increased flatulence. In rare cases, long-term use of Flexeril has been linked to reduced bile flow and inflammation of the liver.
Flexeril may also affect the nervous system, integumentary system (skin) and urinary system. Potential effects on the nervous system include seizures, vertigo, tremors, insomnia, abnormal sensations, and double vision. Some people experience increased sweating as a result of long-term Flexeril use. The use of this medication may also cause urinary retention or increased urinary frequency.
|Long-term Physical Symptoms|
Including all of the above effects for casual use
|Fast heart rate
Dilation of the blood vessels
Low blood pressure
MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, has more information on Flexeril, including an overview of why it’s prescribed and an explanation of how to take it safely when prescribed. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also has more information on the illicit use of Flexeril in the United States.
As of 2004, approximately two million American adults used Flexeril and other prescription muscle relaxants, according to data gathered as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In 2018 and 2019, more than 26 million Flexeril prescriptions were picked up from U.S. pharmacies, indicating a significant increase in the number of people using Flexeril to relieve pain associated with musculoskeletal conditions.
The increased use of Flexeril has also led to an increase in the number of medical emergencies involving the drug. In 2016, Flexeril was mentioned in more than 10,000 cases handled by the American Association of Poison Control Centers; more than 4,000 of those cases involved exposure to Flexeril and no other substances, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Among the single exposures, four people died, and another 75 experienced major medical outcomes. In 2017, exposure to Flexeril caused 97 major medical outcomes; the drug was also mentioned in 10,429 case reports from poison-control centers throughout the country.
Flexeril has properties similar to those displayed by tricyclic antidepressants, which may also be abused by individuals looking to achieve a sense of euphoria or make it easier to cope with stressful life circumstances. In 2010, nearly 3,900 drug overdose deaths involved some type of antidepressant. Individuals with depression are also more likely to have a substance-use disorder, increasing the risk that they’ll misuse Flexeril if it’s prescribed for muscle spasms or other musculoskeletal disorders.
In the United States, the use of muscle relaxants and other prescription drugs by adolescents has been increasing in some populations. This includes the use of benzodiazepines, some of which are used to relax the muscles, and skeletal muscle relaxants like Flexeril. Adolescents may combine Flexeril with alcohol or illicit substances to enhance its psychoactive properties, increasing the risk of dependence and enhancing the severity of any side effects.
According to the Monitoring the Future Study, however, overall prescription use has declined, at least among students in 12th grade who participated in the survey. In 2019, 14.6% of 12th graders reported that they had used some type of prescription drug in their lifetimes, a decrease from 15.5% the previous year. The number of 12th graders who reported using a prescription drug within the past year also declined, from 9.9% in 2018 to 8.6% in 2019, a statistically significant difference.
Adolescents may start abusing Flexeril after taking it to treat a legitimate medical condition, or they may experiment with Flexeril that was prescribed for a friend or family member.
|Past Year (2019)||Lifetime|
|8th grade (14-15 yo)||Not collected||Not collected|
|10th grade (15-16 yo)||Not collected||Not collected|
|12th grade (17-18 yo)||8.60%||14.60%|
With long-term use, Flexeril users may develop a physical dependence on the substance, making it difficult to stop taking Flexeril. Even when someone has the desire to stop taking the drug, the physical effects of withdrawal — including nausea, headaches and malaise — may make it difficult to do so. As a result, Flexeril rehabilitation is a multistep process that aims to slowly reduce the amount of Flexeril ingested each day until the individual can safely stop taking the drug altogether.
This multistep process makes it easier to cope with the physical effects of withdrawal and reduces the risk of an adverse event occurring when the individual stops taking Flexeril. The rehabilitation process also gives the individual the tools and support needed to develop healthy coping mechanisms and reduce the risk of relapse. To learn more, read our Flexeril rehabilitation guide, which provides an in-depth overview of the process and its benefits.
If you have a loved one who’s struggling with addiction, staging an intervention is often the first necessary step towards sobriety, but it’s important to be strategic and loving in your approach. Even the most well-meaning of interventions can have a negative effect if they aren’t handled correctly.
|1. Don’t Do It Alone. A professional interventionist is always the most qualified to guide a successful intervention. Also, rely on non-addict family and friends — especially those who have a close relationship with you or the addict.|
|2. Research Ahead of Time. It’s best to do plenty of research ahead of time to gather insight on the addiction and how it affects the addict. Also, be prepared with local resources for getting help.|
|3. Write Out Your Statement. During the actual intervention, emotions will likely be running high, so it’s best to have a statement of how the person’s addiction has impacted you and your relationship with him or her. These statements should be honest yet written from a place of love — no personal attacks.|
|4. Offer Help. It’s important for everyone attending the intervention to offer tangible help and support as the person works through detox and rehabilitation.|
|5. Set Boundaries. If the person refuses to seek help and take the next steps outlined, it’s important that they understand that everyone present will end codependent and enabling behaviors.|