Flexeril is a prescription medication used to ease the effects of painful, short-term muscle spasms. Unlike many other drugs commonly abused, it does not produce chemical dependency or lead to physical drug addiction. However, some drug users take dangerously high amounts of Flexeril in order to achieve a euphoric state. This improper use of the medication can lead to a number of serious health consequences, up to and including overdose and death. People who overdose on Flexeril frequently combine it with alcohol or other drugs.
Flexeril is one of several commercially available forms of a drug called cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride, a muscle relaxer. Flexeril achieves its effects by altering the normal processing of muscle-related nerve signaling in the portion of your lower brain called the brain stem, as well as in your spinal cord. In turn, this altered signal processing reduces or eliminates overactivity in voluntary muscles throughout your body.
Doctors prescribe Flexeril as part of an overall treatment plan to ease the effects of muscle spasms and related symptoms such as pain, abnormal muscle tenderness and loss of normal muscle control. The medication is useful for short-term spasms that directly affect individual muscles, but provides no treatment benefit in people with chronic, system-wide muscle-related problems such as cerebral palsy or spinal cord disease.
Flexeril is not a controlled substance, and people taking the medication do not run a risk of developing a physical dependency on its effects. However, because of its ability to produce a marked sense of relaxation — and, in some cases, euphoria — the medication does present a significant risk for misuse or abuse. This is especially important because people who abuse Flexeril frequently combine it with alcohol or with controlled medications or illegal drugs that produce psychoactive or mind-altering effects. While a patient following the guidelines of a Flexeril prescription will take a maximum dose of 10 mg at any given time, abusers of the medication sometimes take doses as high as 60 or 80 mg. They also sometimes try to hasten the onset of the medication’s effects by crushing Flexeril tablets and snorting the resulting powder.
When abused, Flexeril can produce varying degrees of overdose. Common potential symptoms of overdose include a rapid heartbeat and drowsiness. More severe potential effects include hallucinations, loss of normal muscle coordination, confusion, body tremors, slurring of speech, high blood pressure and vomiting. Relatively uncommon signs or symptoms of a life-threatening Flexeril overdose include seizures, a heart-related chest pain called angina, severe irregular heartbeat, heart attack, extremely low blood pressure, coma and a nervous system disorder called neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The effects of a Flexeril overdose can set in rapidly, and a person in this condition requires immediate hospitalization.
People who combine Flexeril with alcohol or certain drugs or medications increase their risks for dangerous or life-threatening outcomes. Even when used at prescription levels, the medication can trigger deadly consequences when used in combination with mood-altering prescription medications called MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
If someone you know shows signs of medication abuse, encourage them to seek help at the earliest available opportunity. As noted above, anyone experiencing a Flexeril overdose requires prompt medical treatment. Because of the potential for combined effects of the medication with alcohol and/or other substances, even well-trained emergency personnel can have serious difficulty countering the effects of a Flexeril overdose.