Are Muscle Relaxers Addictive?

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Prescription muscle relaxers can provide great relief for people who have certain medical needs. Unfortunately, many muscle relaxers are addictive drugs with high potential for abuse. Before you take a muscle relaxer or any other prescription medication, it is important to fully understand their benefits and potential drawbacks.

What Are Muscle Relaxers?

Muscle relaxers (which are sometimes referred to as muscle relaxants) are medications that can decrease pain or stiffness, usually as a result of:

  • Muscle spasms or cramps, which involve involuntary muscle contractions. They often result from overexertion or dehydration, though certain injuries or medical conditions can also be to blame.
  • Muscle spasticity, which refers to muscle tightness that impairs movement. Common causes of muscle spasticity are stroke, cerebral palsy, brain damage, and injuries to the spinal cord.

 

Examples of commonly prescribed muscle relaxers include:

  • Baclofen (Lioresal)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
  • Orphenadrine (Norflex)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)

 

Some muscle relaxers can be taken orally in pill or capsule form, while others are typically administered via injection. 

Are Muscle Relaxers Addictive?

Given the intensity of their effects, muscle relaxers pose a risk of both abuse and addiction. This is one reason why they are typically prescribed for short-term use only.

Depending on which muscle relaxer a person takes, they may experience:

  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Mild sedation
  • Serene euphoria
  • Disorientation
  • Dissociation

 

Some people begin to abuse muscle relaxers after receiving a prescription for a legitimate medical concern. Others misuse them solely for recreational purposes. No matter what prompts a person to use these drugs in an ill-advised manner, the possible results can include dependence, overdose, and even death.

How to Know if You’re Becoming Addicted to Muscle Relaxers

Addiction isn’t always apparent – especially when someone is in the early stages of a substance use disorder. Even if you’re the one who has developed the addiction, you may not initially realize the extent of the problem.

If you are concerned about becoming addicted to muscle relaxers, ask yourself the following 10 questions:

  1. Have you been using muscle relaxers in larger amounts or for a longer period of time then directed by your doctor or pharmacist?
  2. Have you attempted to illicitly acquire muscle relaxers by buying or stealing medications that were prescribed to someone else, or by lying to a doctor about the severity of your symptoms?
  3. Do you spend considerable amounts of time seeking, using, and recovering from the effects of muscle relaxers?
  4. Have you failed to meet personal or professional responsibilities (such as neglecting to pay bills or missing school or work) as a result of your muscle relaxer use?
  5. Have you used muscle relaxers in a way that you know is especially dangerous, such as by combining them with alcohol or other addictive substances?
  6. Does it seem like muscle relaxers don’t affect you as strongly as they used to – so you have to take larger doses to achieve desired effects?
  7. Have you begun to withdraw from friends and family, or reduce your participation in important activities, as a result of your muscle relaxer use?
  8. Have you continued to use muscle relaxers even after incurring some form of harm as a result of prior use?
  9. If you try to stop using muscle relaxers, or if you are prevented from using them for an extended period, do you experience physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms?
  10. Has anyone suggested to you that you might have a problem with muscle relaxers, or do you think you might be addicted to them?

 

These questions are not a replacement for an assessment by a qualified professional. But if you answered yes to any (or all) of them, it may be time to schedule that assessment. 

Completing an evaluation and receiving a diagnosis can help you understand the nature of the challenge you are facing, so that you can find the treatment that’s right for you.

Treatment for Muscle Relaxer Addiction

Treatment for muscle relaxer addiction can take many forms and involve a wide range of therapies and support services. An approach that is ideal for one person may not meet the needs of another, which underscores the importance of finding a provider who will develop a customized plan just for you.

Depending on how you have been affected by muscle relaxer addiction – and if you are also dealing with any co-occurring mental health concerns – you may be best served by one or more of the following programs:

 

Within these programs, you may benefit from the following elements of care:

  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Neurofeedback therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • EMDR and other trauma therapies

 

After you have completed treatment, you should also receive a discharge plan to guide your continued progress. This plan may include details about professional services and peer-led resources that can help you resist relapse and continue to progress in your recovery.

Contact Renewal Health Group to Treat Addiction Today

If you have become addicted to muscle relaxers, Renewal Health Group is here to help.

We offer a full continuum of addiction treatment services at multiple locations in Southern California. At each of our facilities, you can expect to receive focused care and comprehensive support from a team of highly skilled professionals. 

We will work closely with you to help you understand your needs and establish meaningful goals. Then we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Every step of the way, we will encourage you to play an active role in all aspects of your care, so that you can become an informed self-advocate and take ownership of your recovery.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

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