When you are experiencing certain types of pain, a muscle relaxer can be a source of immense relief. But as is the case with any drug, you shouldn’t take a muscle relaxer without asking a few important questions, such as: What side effects might I experience? How long can I safely take this medication? and Are muscle relaxers addictive?
Types of Muscle Relaxers
To accurately answer the question, “Are muscle relaxers addictive?” it can be helpful to first determine which specific substances the questioner is referring to.
Muscle relaxers are a category of medications that can ease pain, reduce muscle spasms, and enhance mobility. Also sometimes referred to as muscle relaxants, these drugs may also be used during surgery or in certain emergency medical procedures.
There are two main types of prescription muscle relaxers:
- Antispasmodics – Muscle relaxers in this category are sometimes referred to as centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxants, or SMRs. These drugs act on the central nervous system. They are typically prescribed to treat acute pain due to injuries, or muscle spasms that result from medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Antispastics – The muscle relaxers in the antispastic category directly impact the functioning of skeletal muscles. They are most often prescribed to people who have suffered spinal cord injuries or who have chronic health conditions such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
Examples of antispasmodic muscle relaxers include diazepam (which is marketed under the brand name Valium), metaxalone (Skelaxin), carisoprodol (Soma), and cyclobenzaprine (Flexir).
Antispastic muscle relaxers include baclofen (Lioresal), tizanidine (Zanaflex), and dantrolene (Dantrium).
Are Muscle Relaxers Addictive?
Now that we’ve explored the different types of muscle relaxers, it’s time to answer whether or not muscle relaxers are addictive.
The answer: Yes, people who use muscle relaxers can become addicted to them. The risk of addiction is higher among people who abuse muscle relaxers for recreational purposes, as well as those who use the drugs for a longer period of time than directed by the prescribing physician.
If someone uses a muscle relaxer for a limited period of time, and they follow their doctor’s instructions, they can experience considerable relief without developing drug dependence. But the nature of these substances means that even “correct” usage is accompanied by some danger of addiction.
Thankfully, muscle relaxer addiction is treatable. If you believe that you or someone you care about has become addicted to one of these drugs, seek help immediately.
Dangers & Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers
Just about every type of medication can cause some side effects. In the case of muscle relaxers, they can be sources of the following physical effects:
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular heart rate
- Breathing difficulties
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Impaired balance
Muscle relaxers can also prompt the onset of certain psychological symptoms, including:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Auditory, visual, and/or tactile hallucinations
How to Overcome Addiction to Muscle Relaxers
Addiction is characterized by powerful compulsions to continue using a substance, even after a person has incurred direct harm due to previous use. When a person becomes addicted to muscle relaxers, they may be unable to control the amount or frequency of their use.
The compulsions and loss of control that people experience when they become addicted to muscle relaxers may make it virtually impossible for them to stop using these drugs without professional help. When a person does get the right type of treatment, though, they can learn to manage their urges, end their abuse of muscle relaxers, and build a foundation for long-term recovery.
Treatment for addiction to muscle relaxers can take many forms, depending on factors such as the following:
- Which muscle relaxer has the person become addicted to?
- How long have they been abusing this drug?
- Have they become addicted to any other substances?
- Do they have any co-occurring mental health concerns?
Programs Available for Treating Muscle Relaxer Addiction
People may receive care via one, several, or all of the programs listed above.
For example, if a person needs help getting through withdrawal, they may start with detox. Once they have completed detox, they can transfer into residential treatment, where they will continue to benefit from round-the-clock care and supervision.
After they have finished residential treatment, the individual can step down to the IOP level, where they will participate in partial days of treatment a few days a week. This can prepare them to make a successful transition out of treatment.
Outpatient treatment can be an excellent source of long-term support. Maintaining recovery from muscle relaxer addiction takes continued effort and constant vigilance. Regularly scheduled outpatient treatment sessions with a counselor can be a valuable part of a person’s recovery plan.
Services Available for Muscle Relaxer Addiction
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Trauma therapy
- Psychodrama therapy
Remember: There is no single type of muscle relaxer addiction treatment that is perfect for everyone. If you are looking for help for yourself or someone that you care about, focus on finding the provider whose approach to treatment aligns most closely with your needs and preferences, or with those of your loved one.
Begin Treatment for Muscle Relaxers in Los Angeles
LA Detox can be an ideal place to begin your treatment for muscle relaxer addiction. At our center in Los Angeles, California, adults receive life-changing care from a team of skilled and dedicated professionals. When you are ready to stop abusing muscle relaxers, the LA Detox team is here for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help.