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Cyclobenzaprine, commonly available as Flexeril, is a popular muscle relaxant that primarily treats short-term muscle spasms and other musculoskeletal problems. As a muscle relaxant, this medicine has worked wonders for many individuals for a long time, even in doses as little as 10 mg. In addition to its painkilling properties, Flexeril is also notoriously popular for something else: addiction and overdose.
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Because of the sedative effects that Flexeril brings on, many people continue to use it beyond its intended duration. Such people often end up putting themselves at a very high risk of an overdose. Flexeril overdose is very real and can put anyone’s life in danger; hence, it is important to learn how to recognize and manage it to save lives.
How to Recognize a Flexeril Overdose? Common Signs and Symptoms
Flexeril is a highly addictive drug associated with a very high risk of an overdose. People using it for chronic pain management must familiarize themselves with the possible symptoms of an overdose to identify the problem and seek help for it before it damages their bodies. Several signs hint towards Flexeril overdose, some of which can be potentially deadly. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Change in body temperature
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- The trouble with speech or movement
- Loss of consciousness
- Heart attack
Risk Factors of Flexeril Overdose: Who is in Danger?
Multiple personal factors decide the risk of an individual experiencing a Flexeril overdose. These factors include:
- Dose of Flexeril
- The time span of using the drug
- Weight and height of the user
- Any pre-existing cardiac issues, such as a recent heart attack, congestive heart failure, breathing issue, or heart rhythm disorder
- A positive history of any other health issue, such as prostate enlargement, liver disease, glaucoma, and overactive thyroid
People who use additional drugs other than Flexeril may also be at a higher risk of accidentally ingesting more of it without knowing. This phenomenon is known as polysubstance use and involves multiple drugs simultaneously to attain a desirable level of cyclobenzaprine high. Keep in mind that you must not take Flexeril with cold or allergy medicine, alcohol, and sleep aids, as the combination may lead to mental impairments and make everyday activities difficult to perform. Additionally, Flexeril can also increase the working of the following drugs, making them dangerous for the body:
- Irritable bowel medicines
- Medicines to treat bladder and urinary complaints
- Medicine for anxiety, depression, and seizures
- Narcotic pain management drugs
Complications of Flexeril Overdose
People who overdose on Flexeril are always at risk of developing a condition called a neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The symptoms of this condition include the following:
- Severe rigidity of the muscles
- Pale or flushed skin
- Elevated body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Inability to speak
- Trouble swallowing
- Changing levels of consciousness
- Increased number of white blood cells
The syndrome is also sometimes associated with rhabdomyolysis, a severe condition that involves the breakdown of muscle tissues and the release of large protein molecules into the bloodstream. The spilling of proteins (myoglobin) associated with rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney injury. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Cyclobenzaprine Overdose Treatment
If you know someone who has been abusing Flexeril for a long time and suspects that they have taken it in a very high dose, it is essential to assess them for any signs of an overdose.  Even if you find the tiniest sign that suggests an overdose, don’t be afraid to call the emergency medical services and provide them with all the necessary details. Once the help is on its way, keep calm and do not leave the victim alone. Make sure to check on them and keep them conscious and breathing however possible. Clear the surrounding area by removing any objects that may harm the victim. If the victim begins to seize, put them on their side and clean the nearby area to reduce the chances of an injury.
Once you have ensured that the victim is breathing, check their airway and confirm it is intact and open. Next, tilt their head slightly backward to allow them to breathe. If this maneuver makes their breathing shallow, place the head back into its previous position and lift their chin up very gently. Use your fingers to close their nostrils, make a seal around their lips using yours and pass two breaths. Avoid giving the victim any beverage or food, or they may choke on them.
A lot of people falsely believe that Flexeril overdose can respond well to cold sponging of the body; hence, they may be tempted to place the victim into a shower. However, ensure you avoid it, as doing so may send them into a state of shock. Instead, simply remain with them and help paramedics take care of them while communicating whatever you know about the incident with them.
If the victim stops breathing at any point, you may need to give them cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If they still continue to face breathing issues or have irregularities in the heart, they may need defibrillation and oxygen. At the hospital, experts typically administer a drug called ipecac that comes in syrup and induces vomiting. If this method does not help remove enough Flexeril from the system, the medical team proceeds to a method called stomach pumping. This method includes mechanically removing any residues of the medication from the stomach. Sometimes, a doctor may use activated charcoal to limit the absorption of cyclobenzaprine in the bloodstream.
If a person has taken a cyclobenzaprine lethal dose, doctors will insert a breathing tube into their throat and monitor them in the intensive care unit until they are out of danger. Such cases happen to people who have an addiction to Flexeril and require a medical detox and addiction treatment when they stabilize. Throughout their stay in the hospital, a medical team continues to closely monitor their mental and physical health. They may also undergo a psychiatric evaluation before discharge, especially if the overdose was a suicide attempt.
Minimizing the Risk of Cyclobenzaprine Overdose: What Precautions to Take
If you have just been prescribed cyclobenzaprine and you are worried about the risk of overdose, keep the following precautions in mind:
- Many medications can interact with cyclobenzaprine. So make sure you let your doctor know about all prescription and non-prescription medications along with supplements you are currently talking
- Avoid making any changes to your daily dose or dosage schedule without confirming it with your doctor first
- The presence of certain medical conditions can affect how cyclobenzaprine affects the body. So make sure you let your prescribing doctor know if you have any pre-existing medical illnesses, such as liver disease, urinary issues, hyperthyroidism, or glaucoma.
- Do not combine cyclobenzaprine with alcohol, as both substances may lead to hazardous side effects when taken together. If you wish to drink alcohol while you are on this drug, consult with a doctor
- It is possible to accidentally ingest too much cyclobenzaprine and experience the symptoms of serotonin syndrome. These symptoms may include shivering, sweating, fever, hallucinations, fast heart rate, agitation, nausea and vomiting, and muscle twitching. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after taking cyclobenzaprine, do not take it lightly and go to a doctor immediately.
- Follow your prescription instructions very carefully to minimize the chances of side effects.
Preventing Flexeril Overdose in the Future: Seek Treatment for Addiction Today
A Flexeril addiction is completely manageable, and it significantly reduces the risk of experiencing an overdose in the future. Remember that it is never too late to ask for help or seek recovery. A common cyclobenzaprine addiction treatment plan may include one or more of the following levels of care:
This may continue for one to two hours per day, a few days a week. Clients who enroll in this program remain at home at night and visit the rehab during the day to seek therapy. Many people begin their Flexeril addiction treatment directly at this level, while many steps down to outpatient programs after receiving more intensive care.
This typically involves an hour-long session almost every day of the treatment. Each session includes a bunch of people who have similar struggles and issues, and they discuss them with each other under the supervision of a therapist.
This specialized treatment aims to treat the mind, body, and spirit of a person addicted to Flexeril at the same time for optimal wellness and health. The purpose of holistic therapy is to avoid any imbalances in overall health that may negatively impact an individual’s recovery efforts.
Inpatient treatment for cyclobenzaprine addiction involves round-the-clock medical and therapeutic support in a hospital-like setting. During these programs, clients stay on site for a fixed number of days and participate in regular programs, including educational and therapeutic groups, individual therapy, and organized extracurricular activities.
Can you overdose on Flexeril?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on Flexeril or any other product containing cyclobenzaprine. Most of these muscle relaxants come with sedative properties, so many people are likely to misuse them, thinking they will calm them down or help them cope better. Using Flexeril can make users drowsy, and individuals often use it with other substances to enhance these sedative effects. As a result, chancing of overdoing it becomes even higher.
Is Flexeril safe?
When used for a short time and as intended, muscle relaxers like Flexeril are safe and quite effective. On the other hand, using them chronically and in higher doses may put anyone at risk of developing a muscle relaxer overdose. Statistics suggest that 18.5 percent of all prescription drugs written to manage chronic back pain include the use of Flexeril. Up to 2 million Americans continue to use it, the majority combining it with some other form of pain relief. Such people may be at risk of acquiring cyclobenzaprine addiction and experiencing an overdose if they are not careful enough.
How much Flexeril does it take to overdose?
The standard dose for Flexeril usually varies depending on the patient’s age. Most people require 15 to 30 milligrams of cyclobenzaprine if it comes in an extended-release capsule. In tablet form, 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine is enough to take a day thrice with a maximum dose of 60 mg. Children under 15 years must ask their doctors to establish a safe dose that does not result in an overdose. Keep in mind that a doctor is the best person to guide you about how much Flexeril you can safely take and how much of it can cause an overdose. In most cases, the doctor will only prescribe it for 2 to 3 weeks and switch to a long-term painkiller later.
1 Chabria S. B. (2006). Rhabdomyolysis: a manifestation of cyclobenzaprine toxicity. Journal of occupational medicine and toxicology (London, England), 1, 16. https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6673-1-16
2 O’Riordan, W., Gillette, P., Calderon, J., & Stennes, R. L. (1986). Overdose of cyclobenzaprine, the tricyclic muscle relaxant. Annals of emergency medicine, 15(5), 592-593.