Flexeril and Alcohol: Effects, Risks & Interactions
Although cyclobenzaprine is not a drug of abuse on its own, mixing the medication with alcohol can increase your risk of an overdose.
Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) is the most common muscle relaxant in the U.S. Generally reserved for treating short-term spasms from muscle injuries, more than 16 million prescriptions for the drug were filled in 2020.
However, just because it is a common drug does not necessarily mean it is always safe, especially when mixed with other substances like alcohol. If you drink and take cyclobenzaprine, you should be aware of the side effects and overdose risks of combining them.
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What Is Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine)?
Cyclobenzaprine is an FDA-approved muscle relaxant for short-term use to treat muscle spasms from acute issues like injuries. It is also sometimes prescribed off-label to treat fibromyalgia and temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder. The medication doesn’t work on the muscles themselves but on nerves in the brain stem to help relax muscle systems.
Common Cyclobenzaprine Side Effects
Because every muscle relaxant differs, cyclobenzaprine’s side effects can differ slightly from those of other muscle relaxants. Cyclobenzaprine’s side effects can include:
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
Flexeril Addiction and Abuse
Cyclobenzaprine is not a controlled substance. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration received reports of the drug being misused, especially with other agents like alcohol.
Signs of Muscle Relaxant Abuse
All muscle relaxants are different. While some are not prone to misuse, others are controlled substances. Cyclobenzaprine, while not a drug of abuse on its own, is sometimes taken with other medications to enhance a high from those drugs. Signs of cyclobenzaprine misuse can, therefore, include the following:
- Increased heart rate
Most commonly, cyclobenzaprine is misused alongside other central nervous system depressant drugs like:
Muscle Relaxant Overdose Symptoms
All muscle relaxants are unique and have different overdose symptoms. Cyclobenzaprine overdose is particularly dangerous when the medication is mixed with alcohol and can be deadly. Although reported cyclobenzaprine overdoses are rare, symptoms can include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Gait problems
- High blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
More rarely, serious overdose symptoms can occur and include heart problems like:
- Chest pain
- Cardiac arrest
- Heart rhythm problems
- Severe drop in blood pressure
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
If you suspect someone has taken too much cyclobenzaprine, call 911. A cyclobenzaprine overdose can be fatal, especially if the drug is taken with alcohol.
Mixing Alcohol and Flexeril
Mixing alcohol and cyclobenzaprine can be dangerous. Taking the two drugs together can increase your risk of side effects and the chances of a cyclobenzaprine overdose.
Side Effects of Taking Cyclobenzaprine With Alcohol
Because cyclobenzaprine and alcohol are central nervous system depressants with similar side effects, taking them together can increase your chances of adverse effects. Side effects of mixing the two substances include:
- Problems concentrating
- Impaired thinking
- Impaired judgment
- Problems with coordination
In addition, cyclobenzaprine overdose can more easily occur when mixing the drug with alcohol, which can be fatal.
Long-term Risks of Combining Alcohol and Flexeril
The risks of chronically taking alcohol and cyclobenzaprine together are not known. Even the risks of taking cyclobenzaprine on its own for more than three weeks are unknown, as is the drug’s long-term effectiveness. For this reason, the FDA recommends against staying on cyclobenzaprine over the long term.
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How Long After Taking Cyclobenzaprine Can You Drink Alcohol?
Cyclobenzaprine is a notoriously long-acting drug. For this reason, if you take it regularly, you should avoid alcohol. The half-life of a drug describes how long it takes for half of a single dose to be removed from your system.
Cyclobenzaprine’s half-life is around 37 hours in younger adults and can be up to 50 hours in adults over 65. Since it takes five half-lives to remove a drug from your system entirely, it can take more than 10 days to remove a single dose of cyclobenzaprine from your body. You should avoid alcohol during this time.
Treatment for Alcohol and Muscle Relaxant Misuse
If you struggle with alcohol and muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine, it can be hard to see a way out. An addiction to multiple substances can be hard to overcome on your own. But with the help of a medically supervised detox program and rehab options at The Recovery Village at Baptist Health, you can overcome your alcohol and muscle relaxant addiction for good. Contact a Recovery Advocate today to find out how our addiction treatment programs can help you start living a happier, healthier life.
Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed March 27, 2023.
Penn Medicine. “Long-term Use of Muscle Relaxants Has Skyrocketed Since 2005.” June 25, 2020. Accessed March 27, 2023.
Drugs.com. “Drug Interaction Report: cyclobenzaprine, ethanol.” Accessed March 27, 2023.
ClinCalc. “Muscle Relaxants – Drug Usage Statistics.” Accessed March 27, 2023.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Cyclobenzaprine.” March 2020. Accessed March 27, 2023.
Makram, John; Mallah, Haneen; Motes, Arunee; et al. “Cyclobenzaprine Overdose Presenting With Rhabdomyolysis, Distributive Shock, and Multiorgan Failure.” CHEST, October 2020. Accessed March 27, 2023.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride tablet, film coated.” December 30, 2019. Accessed March 27, 2023.
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