If you’re living with pain, you should know that you are not alone. According to a study published by the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 59 percent of Americans say they experience recurring pain. Of those study participants, an estimated 39 percent said they primarily suffered from back pain. Meanwhile, 39 and 36 percent of study participants, respectively, said they suffered from lower and upper limb pain. While we are on the subject, studies show chronic pain costs the United States more than $635 billion every year in medical treatments and lost productivity. Although more than half of the population in America is struggling with pain, everyone experiences it differently.

For instance, some people experience only mild aches and pains that can be ameliorated by simply taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Others are not so fortunate. Studies show that some people diagnosed with chronic neck or back pain, for example, must resort to taking prescription-based medications to keep severe pain symptoms at bay. Along with Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, Flexeril is one of the medications physicians prescribe the most to patients living with chronic pain. Unfortunately, much like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, it is also a medication that has sent countless people down a nightmarish path of addiction. 

What You Might Not Have Known About Flexeril but Probably Should

For those not aware, Flexeril is the brand name for the generic cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant that also alleviates pain. And it does both of these things by blocking nerve impulses that ordinarily travel to the brain, say many general physicians and clinical pharmacologists. Generally speaking, Flexeril is used alongside physical therapy to treat skeletal muscle conditions that trigger pain or spasms. The five areas of the body that are especially prone to pain and that can be helped the most by taking Flexeril are as follows:

  • Head
  • Joints
  • Lower back 
  • Muscles 
  • Nerves

Indeed, Flexeril is quite effective in speeding relief from pain affecting these parts of the body. And this is precisely why so many physicians prescribe it to their patients. That said, things can quickly go awry when people do not take this powerful muscle relaxant as prescribed by their physician. For reference, the recommended dose for Flexeril is 5 mg three times per day, according to data provided by RxList, a trusted online resource for up-to-date pharmaceutical information related to both brand and generic prescription drugs. If a physician determines a higher dose is necessary for a patient, they will usually increase the dosage to 10 mg three times per day. At no point should Flexeril or its generic counterpart be taken for longer than three weeks, notes the same data from RxList.

Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Pain Relief

Cyclobenzaprine, approved by the FDA for medical use in 1977, acts on the brain and nervous system. In doing so, it works a lot like a class of antidepressant medications called Tricyclic antidepressants. Because cyclobenzaprine functions like this particular class of antidepressants and can also depress the central nervous system, it can be very addictive when individuals do not take it as directed, say many physicians and addiction experts. Of course, even when taken as directed, most people will experience unavoidable side effects. But someone abuses this powerful skeletal muscle relaxant, those side effects can become far more intense. Also, individuals who misuse or abuse the medication are subjecting themselves up to the possibility of encountering rare side effects that most people taking the medication as directed by their doctor generally don’t experience. That said, some of the side effects associated with cyclobenzaprine include the following:

  • Acid reflux
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Jitters
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Urinary problems
  • Vision problems
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth

What Happens When You Overdose on Cyclobenzaprine?

Now that we are a little more familiar with cyclobenzaprine let’s take a moment to explore what happens when individuals misuse, abuse, and inevitably become addicted to this medication. Unlike other prescription and even street-level drugs, individuals do not achieve a euphoric high when they misuse or abuse cyclobenzaprine. However, the relaxing effects of the drug can make it both extremely satisfying and habit-forming. Several studies show that many people purposefully increase the amount of cyclobenzaprine they take purely to intensify the effects of the drug. Unfortunately, many of these same individuals go on to develop an addiction as a result. On a side note, a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a United States federal-government research agency supporting scientific research on drug use and its consequences, revealed that people ages 18 to 25 tend to abuse cyclobenzaprine the most. That said, when people take more cyclobenzaprine than recommended by their physician, they run the risk of overdosing. Some of the tell-tale signs of a cyclobenzaprine overdose include the following:

  • Arrhythmia 
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion 
  • Hypertension 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting 

It is worth noting that the risk of overdosing increases exponentially when individuals combine cyclobenzaprine with alcohol or benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, Halcion, Ativan, and Klonopin.

Identifying Signs of Cyclobenzaprine Abuse and Addiction

Recognizing some of the tell-tale signs of abuse and addiction can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of overdosing on cyclobenzaprine. That being stated, some of the signs that might suggest someone has a problem with cyclobenzaprine include the following:

  • Become preoccupied with getting and ultimately taking cyclobenzaprine
  • Changes in hygiene, behavior, and overall physical appearance 
  • Continuing to take cyclobenzaprine after it’s no longer necessary or for longer than prescribed by a physician
  • Doctor shopping
  • Lacking the self-discipline to quit taking cyclobenzaprine
  • Needing more and more of the drug to elicit the same effects

Final Thought on the Skeletal Muscle Relaxant Cyclobenzaprine

Although cyclobenzaprine is very effective and is considered by many physicians to be a go-to for relieving chronic pain, it is also a very addictive drug. And the potential for addiction can increase significantly when the drug is taken solely for its relaxing effects instead of its actual intended therapeutic purpose, which is to relieve pain. Fortunately, for those who have already become physically and psychologically addicted to cyclobenzaprine, you should know that all hope is not lost.  

There is no shortage of rehab facilities across America that offer addiction recovery services to individuals who have a problem with cyclobenzaprine. These addiction recovery services can be in the form of in-patient or outpatient programs. And both options generally include counseling to address the psychological hurdles that some face when trying to quit cyclobenzaprine for good. Further, for the roughly 20 percent who suffer severe withdrawal symptoms while detoxing from cyclobenzaprine, many facilities also offer FDA-approved medications that can help ease the severity of those symptoms.