So is Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) a Narcotic Agent?
Flexeril is not an opioid which technically means that it is not a narcotic agent. In Canada, USA and in most countries around the world, the medication is not considered as a controlled drug and therefore it shouldn’t be regarded as a narcotic in any way. In fact it is in a totally different class of drugs that has no relationship with the narcotic family.
All you need to Know about Flexeril
Flexeril, a prescription drug-only, also known as Cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride is a CNS (Central nervous system) muscle relaxant medication architected to alleviate discomfort and pain related to sprains, muscle spasms and other related injuries. It is usually prescribed to patients who have back pains including those with significant back tightness or muscle spasms or locked backs.
It is often prescribed in combination with physical therapy, rest and other measures. The medication is only designed for short term use and users should strictly follow the instructions provided by their health care provider when using the medication.
The Muscle Relaxant – Flexeril
Also known as Cyclobenzaprine, Flexeril is a muscle relaxer drug used to alleviate skeletal muscle spasms and other related pain in acute skeletal conditions.
So is Flexeril a Controlled Substance?
No, Flexeril is not a controlled substance and is therefore not on the controlled substance list.
What is the generic name for Flexeril?
The generic name for Flexeril is called Cyclobenzaprine.
Wondering how to use Flexeril?
Flexeril is taken by mouth and with or without food as instructed by your physician or doctor 3 times per day. The exact dosage is based on your response to treatment and medical condition. Also note that the medication should only be used for a short while (not more than 3 weeks) unless directed otherwise by your medical provider.
Do not reduce or increase your dose use the drug for longer than directed. Your situation will not enhance any better or faster and your risk of the side effects will increase.
The medication can be used to counter various withdrawal symptoms including dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, tiredness, muscle pain and constipation. But keep in mind that your healthcare provider has prescribed the drug because she or he has judged that its benefits to you will be greater than any side effects, but most people using it do not experience any chronic side effects. Nonetheless tell your healthcare provider if you experience any serious side effects like confusion, hallucinations, problems urinating, mood changes, trouble breathing and an irregular heartbeat.
Flexeril Max Dosage
As mentioned earlier, Flexeril is a muscle relaxant medication that works by promoting release of the norepinephrine hormone from a patient’s central nervous system in the brain. It can either be consumed as an extended release capsule also known as Amrix by brand name or a tablet.
The standard dosage is 2 to 4 times per day while the extended release capsule dosage is usually 1 to 2 times per day. Tablets designed for short term use often come in 10, 7.5 and 5 mg doses. According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) the standard starting dosage is 5 mg, 3 times every day and the maximum recommended dosage is 10 mg, 3 times per day.
Also the Food and Drug Administration, recommends that patients avoid using Monoamine oxidase inhibitors within fourteen days of Flexeril use. These include: Parnate, Matulane, Nardil and Marplan. Deaths and seizures have occurred in people who have taken Flexeril or any other structurally similar tricyclic pain reliever with Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors.
In addition before using this medication tell your pharmacist or doctor if you have any allergies. The drug contains some inactive ingredients that can easily cause allergic reactions or any other related problems. Also tell the healthcare provider your medical history especially if you have liver disease, heart problems, difficulty urinating, an overeactive thyroid or glaucoma.
The effects of taking Flexeril and alcohol
Ideally as it is the case with many other medications, this medication should be taken only with water. But some people lead lifestyles where other drinks especially alcohol form a huge percentage of it. Unfortunately taking alcohol while using Flexeril or taking Flexeril with alcohol can have detrimental effects. It is common knowledge that alcohol inebriates the human mind.
In simpler terms, it causes cognitive impairment, clouding of consciousness and poor judgment when taken in large quantities. So when you combine alcohol and Flexeril, the impact of alcohol is potentiated considerably. What’s more the side effects of Flexeril, including dizziness, reduced concentration and drowsiness can also get worse.
And because of all these effects that accompany the use of Flexeril and alcohol together, it is highly recommended that people who do this do not operate heavy machinery or drive. Doing so can put you at an increased risk of an accident which can be fatal.
In addition to the above side effects, some patients may also experience vertigo, dry mouth and difficulty in passing urine when taking both cyclobenzaprine and alcohol. These side effects can be very troublesome to a patient and can considerably affect his or her quality of life.
Given the above mentioned side effects of combining cyclobenzaprine and alcohol, it is only fair that you take Flexeril on prescription by pharmacist or a doctor. In fact there is a huge negative profile associated with Flexeril use only which both the doctor and patient should be aware of. And the negative profile can only get worse if the medication is taken with alcohol.
Is Flexeril a benzo?
No Flexeril is not a benzo. Although benzo’s also have muscle relaxant features of their own, Flexeril works in a totally different way. In fact given its structure, it cannot show up on any urine test as its chemical formula is closer to Amitriptyline than benzo.
Both Flexeril and Benzo are muscle relaxants and help ease pain, reduce stiffness and relax muscles. They are generally used to counter injury or any other illness affecting muscles. Either Benzo and Flexeril can be prescribed in combination with rest and physical therapy to ease tension if a patient has an injury. But Flexeril exerts its effects more peripherally by blocking nerve signals.
It is more of a tricyclic antidepressant while benzo’s are centrally acting allosteric GABA agonists. Benzodiazepines also have varying hypnotic, sedative and anti-anxiety features. They can also have muscle relaxing action which makes them very handy in treating agitation, insomnia, anxiety, withdrawal, tension, seizures and muscle spasms. For instance benzo’s are usually given before a dental work or surgery so as to calm patients and make them feel more relaxed.
Does Flexeril cause constipation?
Flexeril mainly works by inhibiting pain sensations that are sent to a patient’s brain. And as mentioned earlier it can also be used in conjunction with physical therapy and rest to counter pain and other muscle conditions. Unfortunately just like many pain alleviators out there, constipation, can be a side effect of this medication for some patients. But there are some steps that you take to counter this. Talk to your health care provider if you experience persistent constipation.
Preventing Constipation While Taking Flexeril
- Take a psyllium fiber product or a psyllium capsule like Metamucil. Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber with a laxative impact on the body. Just make sure you follow all the instructions carefully and talk to your healthcare provider before taking it to make sure it is okay for you to use it.
- If your physician or doctor says it is okay for you participate in any type of physical activity, please do it. According to the NDIC (National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse), lack of any physical activity significantly contributes to constipation, though the real reasons behind it are still unknown. Just ask your physician or healthcare provider what activities are okay for you to participate in while on Flexeril that will not enhance your pain.
- Go for foods that contain insoluble fiber. Though you may not feel like eating anything when you are taking Flexeril or when you are in pain, it is very important that you maintain a healthy diet so as to enhance normal bowel function .According to a recent research, foods that are rich in insoluble fiber promote movement of food via the digestive system and bulks up stool. This considerably reduces constipation. Common dietary sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat flour, vegetables and nuts.
- Although you may not feel thirsty when taking Flexeril, you should try and take plenty of fluids if you want to counter constipation. You may also be sleeping a lot because of the medication or pain, but is very essential that you stay hydrated. Dehydration is one of the main contributors to constipation. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing house recommends that you drink vegetable and fruit juices, clear soups and water to prevent this.
The Dangers of a Flexeril Overdose
Though very rare, very serious side effects including even death may occur from overdose of this medication. Other common side effects associated with Flexeril overdose include, tachycardia and drowsiness.
Less common manifestations are agitation, nausea, dizziness, hallucinations, vomiting, slurred speech, coma, hypertension and confusion. Very rare but critical manifestations of cyclobenzaprine overdose include: chest pain, seizures, severe hypertension, dysrhythmias and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
Because management of Flexeril overdose is very sophisticated and evolving very fast, it is strongly recommended that both physicians and patients contact a poison control center for the latest info on treatment. Symptoms and signs of overdose may also develop very fast, so hospital monitoring is very important.
Possible Flexeril Side effects
Common side effects of cyclobenzaprine are dry mouth, drowsiness, stomach upset, fatigue and dizziness. If any of these side effects is persistent, causes problems or becomes severe, the NIH (National Institute of Health) strongly recommends contacting your physician. In addition, if you experience swelling of the tongue or face, severe skin rash, irregular heartbeat, seizures, fever, chest pain or difficulty swallowing or breathing contact your health care provider immediately.
These symptoms have been reported in other related tricyclic antidepressants and could be an indication of sinus tachycardia, arrhythmias leading to stroke and myocardial infarction. Immediate termination of long term use can also cause severe side effects including: malaise, headache and nausea. Nonetheless, note that these withdrawal symptoms are not an indication of dependence.
Generally the possibility for dependence and abuse with cyclobenzaprine is very low. Nonetheless many people who abuse medications are usually very creative and to them any drug can be abused. And just like any other drug there is a high potential of experiencing withdrawal symptoms following an immediate discontinuation of cyclobenzaprine use.
But because its withdrawal symptoms are often mild compared to withdrawal symptoms of other drugs, symptoms associated with Flexeril withdrawal as usually referred to as cyclobenzaprine discontinuation symptoms. Common withdrawal symptoms of the drug include; Nausea, headache and general feeling of malaise.
Signs of Abuse and Addiction
There are a number of indications that can point to an issue with cyclobenzaprine psychological addition or abuse. Some common indicators include:
- Spending a lot of time to get the medication
- Loss of interest in other life activities
- Using the drug for longer than prescribed
- Using the medication in larger doses than instructed
- Using it more often than instructed
- Using the medication even without a prescription
- Using the drug for other reasons other than medicinal use
- Using the medication even after experiencing severe negative side effects
- Declining performance in school or at work
- Changes in one’s appearance including lax in grooming habits or being disheveled
- Missing essential commitments because of using the medication
- Bad personal relationships as result of Flexeril use
Before taking this medication
As mentioned earlier in this guide, do not use Flexeril if you have taken an MAO inhibitor like selegiline (Eldepryl,Emsam),Isocarboxazid(Marplan),tranylcypromine(parnate) or Phenelzine (Nardil) within the past fourteen days. Very serious and life threatening effects can occur if you use cyclobenzaprine before the MAO inhibitor clears from your body. In addition do not use this medication if you have heart problems of if you have:
- An Overactive thyroid
- Urination Problems
- Heart block
- Congestive heart failure
- Allergic to Flexeril or any other related drug
- Liver disease
- Enlarged prostate
- Liver disease
People who have these problems usually require special tests or dose adjustments to safely use Flexeril. Flexeril is also not harmful to an unborn babies, nonetheless it is important that you notify your doctor if you are expectant or if you plan to conceive while you are on treatment. It is still not yet clear if Medication can harm a nursing baby or if it can pass into breast milk. So do not take this medicine without notifying your doctor if you are breast feeding.
Other Important Information about Flexeril:
- Keep in mind that Flexeril may cause blurred vision, dizziness and drowsiness. This effects can be worse if you use with some types of medications or with alcohol. So use Flexeril only as recommended and do not drive or do other potentially unsafe tasks until you know how it will affect you.
- Also consult your physician before you use any drugs that may cause drowsiness (i.e sleeping aids, muscle relaxers and alcohol). These products may worsen the medication’s effect. If you have any queries about which medications can cause drowsiness, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- Don’t use more than the recommended dosage or use the medication for more than 3 weeks without consulting your doctor.
- If your symptoms such as reduced range of motion, pain and tenderness do not improve within 2 weeks or if they worsen talk to your doctor.
- Do not get overheated when active or in hot weather; you may experience a heart stroke.
- Also if you use sugarless gum or candy, experience dry mouth or melt ice in your mouth and you still experience dry mouth for more than 2 weeks talk to your dentist or doctor about it.
- Another important thing to note about using Flexeril is Serotonin syndrome. The syndrome can be caused by cyclobenzaprine use and your risk may increase if you use it with other medications such as SSRIS, Triptans and MAOIs. Common symptoms of the syndrome include; diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, sweating, irregular heartbeat, coma, fever, confusion, agitation and hallucinations. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
- The elderly should use this medication with extreme caution as they tend to be more sensitive to the effects especially, irregular heartbeart, hallucinations and confusion.
- Kids under 15 years should also use Flexeril with extreme caution. The effectiveness and safety of the medication has not yet been confirmed in children.
- If you become pregnant while using the drug contact your doctor or physician as soon as possible. You will need to be enlightened about the risks and the advantages of using Flexeril while you are expectant.
Finally, before taking Flexeril make sure you tell your physician if you have any allergies or you are addicted to it. The product contains inactive ingredients that may cause severe allergic reactions in your system. In addition do not use a machinery or drive or do any other work that requires alertness when using this drug as it may make you drowsy or dizzy. Also avoid alcoholic beverages.