In 2011, more than 52,000 admissions to hospital emergency rooms involved muscle relaxants, and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) accounted for 11,000 of those. Of the 52,000 emergency room admissions, 18% involved the combination of Flexeril with alcohol.1
Flexeril is an antispasmodic drug used to treat muscle spasms and musculoskeletal pain. It is a central nervous system depressant and acts centrally within the brain to achieve its skeletal muscle relaxing effects. Some of the most common side effects of Flexeril include blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. Flexeril is considered to be a high-risk medication for individuals over the age of 65 due to an increased chance of injury from falls. Flexeril also presents a high risk for abuse and dependency.2
Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the United States.3 The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 15.2% of people who begin drinking by the age of 14 will go on to develop a substance use disorder later in life.4 Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows brain functioning and retards motor coordination.5
Side Effects of Taking Flexeril with Alcohol
Drug interactions and warnings issued with Flexeril state that the drug “may enhance the effects of alcohol.”6 It would be unwise to misinterpret this statement as an endorsement to use this dangerous combination.
Given that both substances are central nervous system depressants that cause drowsiness, dizziness, slowed mental processing, and decreased motor coordination, mixing the two substances has the potential to greatly exacerbate these and other symptoms and lead to a higher incidence of accidents. Both substances also show strong tendencies toward encouraging physiological dependence, and using the two substances together increases the likelihood of abuse and dependence.2,5
Treatment for Addiction to Flexeril and Alcohol
Flexeril is an effective pharmacological treatment for muscle spasms and pain, but it can lead to an increased risk of side effects and dependency when mixed with alcohol. If you or a loved one has been prescribed Flexeril but are no longer using it as prescribed or you’re combining it with alcohol, it may be time to seek help. A number of treatment approaches are available to help treat Flexeril and alcohol addiction.
Worries of Mixing Alcohol with Other Drugs
Detox treatment facilities help you through the acute withdrawal symptoms that may occur when you stop taking Flexeril and/or alcohol. Interventions may include medication therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and recreational therapy.
Every detox center is different, so it’s important to speak to someone who can refer you to the right facility for you. It is especially important to be forthcoming about the extent of your alcohol abuse because the associated withdrawal syndrome can be severe if not life threatening.
Inpatient/Residential Rehab and Intensive Outpatient Programs
Remaining abstinent from substances that the body has become physiologically dependent upon can be difficult without support. Triggers in an addicted person’s immediate environment can easily lead to relapse without the proper support. Inpatient rehab or an intensive outpatient program can help a person addicted to Flexeril and alcohol to smoothly navigate this transitional phase, which is critical to long-term sobriety.
Consider a longer-term detox and treatment facility if a professional has told you that your Flexeril and alcohol abuse is severe or if you’ve relapsed several times in the past. The most common treatment (and the one most likely to be covered by insurance) is 28 days at an inpatient or residential rehab facility.
Residential treatment facilities typically offer wrap-around care including individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, classes on nutrition and a healthy and balanced diet, assistance with lifestyle changes, and exercise and relaxation classes. Some facilities also include step-down levels of care to include a partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient program. The costs and locations of these facilities can vary greatly, so speak with someone who can help you make a decision that is within your budget and that best suits your treatment needs.
Group therapy is often the primary focus of inpatient rehab or an intensive outpatient program for treatment of combined Flexeril and alcohol addictions, but some programs offer weekly family sessions and individual sessions as needed. Many inpatient rehab centers offer a full day of group therapy sessions in a setting in which medications can also be prescribed and monitored. Outpatient treatment approaches vary in length but often consist of a half-day group therapy program in which any necessary medications are managed by an outside healthcare provider.
Some addiction treatment programs are substance-specific or mental-health specific, while others focus on dual-diagnosis treatment, where a mental health condition and substance abuse are co-occurring disorders. Each addiction treatment facility is different, so a person seeking treatment for Flexeril and alcohol addiction should ask to be referred to the right facility for the best chance at sustained recovery.
Hotline to Call
Please call our 24-hour hotline if you need information about treatment for addiction to Flexeril or alcohol for yourself or for a loved one.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2013. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4760, DAWN Series D-39.
- Witenko, C., Moorman-Li, R., Motycka, C., Duane, K., Hincapie-Castillo, J., Leonard, P., & Valaer, C. (2014). Considerations for the Appropriate Use of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants for the Management of Acute Low Back Pain. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 39(6), 427–435.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). National survey on drug use and health.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of adolescent substance use disorder treatment: a research based guide.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.) Alcohol.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2001) Cyclobenzaprine.