It feels as though each day we wake up, we hear news about the opioid crisis that was worse than yesterday. Each day, more and more people continue to die. Unfortunately, many of those people were ordinary Americans who were hoping to relieve their chronic pain with an opioid prescription. Doctors continue their search for alternative options to treat chronic pain, muscle injuries, and other forms of pain, but it continues to pose unique challenges. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic pain has been linked to numerous mental and physical conditions. It contributes to substantial healthcare costs and lost productivity. A limited number of studies have shown the prevalence of chronic pain in our society ranges anywhere from 11 to 40 percent, which is a substantial range. In 2019, nearly 20.4 percent of adults in the United States. Even worse, 20 percent of adults experience chronic pain every day of their lives. 

Chronic pain is the number-one cause of long-term disability in the United States, and 70 percent of those affected by chronic pain are women. Chronic lower back pain is the most common type of pain Americans share with their doctors. While it’s challenging to put a dollar figure on pain, it’s sad that it costs the country $635 billion a year, with 36 million Americans missing work because of high-impact chronic pain each year. 

Drugs like cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant, are one such alternative doctors have used to treat chronic pain. The drug works by blocking nerve impulses and pain sensations that are sent to the brain. When the drug is used in conjunction with rest and physical therapy to treat skeletal muscle conditions, it can dramatically reduce pain and help the injury. While these are the most common forms of use, they can be prescribed off-label for purposes not mentioned. 

Below we’ll take a look at Flexeril, how long it stays in your system, and some of its medical benefits, and why it’s a better option than opioids or other muscle relaxants.

What Is Flexeril?

Flexeril, also known as cyclobenzaprine, is a short-term treatment for muscle spasms and chronic pain. It’s typically used in conjunction with physical therapy and rest. It works to relax the muscles, therefore relieving pain. It belongs to a class of drugs similar to a class of antidepressant medications known as tricyclic antidepressants. The generic version of the drug was approved back in 1977 and can be found in both immediate and extended-release pills. The drug can treat a variety of injuries, including sprains, spasms, and strains that wouldn’t warrant more aggressive treatment. 

Flexeril helps control muscle spasms that cause pain. In some cases, the drug can be used to treat pain from some musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia. Doctors have found that opioids aren’t the best course of treatment when treating the condition, despite the severe pain it produces. Flexeril helps reduce pain by acting on our central nervous system (CNS) and blocking sensations of pain that would travel from sore and spasming muscles into our brain. The pain-blocking mechanism may lead to abusing the medication, resulting in Flexeril addiction. 

Since Flexeril is shown to be an effective means of treating pain, it’s often prescribed by doctors. In the first two weeks a person uses the drug, people report incredible pain relief. The peak therapeutic effects occur within the first few days, but after two weeks of using the medication, its effects tend to subside. For this reason, doctors seldom prescribe the drug for more than ten days at a time. 

If you have a history of heart-related issues, such as congestive heart failure or with heart rhythm, or if you use MAOIs, doctors recommend not taking Flexeril. The drug should also not be prescribed to patients over the age of 65. When an older person takes Flexeril, they can experience much more severe side effects. Those with hepatic impairment or liver failure are also more sensitive to how the drug impacts you, especially its sedative side effects.

How Long Does Flexeril Remain in Your System?

You can only obtain the medication if you have a prescription from your doctor. If you’re using the drug outside the parameters of your prescription, such as taking too much too often, or if you don’t have a prescription, this is a sign of abuse. Although Flexeril isn’t considered habit-forming, there are anecdotal reports of it getting abused. Flexeril abuse most commonly occurs when it’s used in conjunction with other central nervous system depressants to potentiate its effects. gabapentin drug test

The half-life of Flexeril is around 18 hours, meaning it should leave your system around four days after you’ve taken the last dose. With that said, these are averages, and the half-life can range from eight to 37 hours, depending on the person. The numbers also don’t indicate the full elimination time it takes to be removed from your system. Instead, they demonstrate how long it takes for half the dose to leave your system. If the half-life is eight hours, it will take around two days for it to leave your system. With a half-life of 37 hours, it would take about eight days to be fully eliminated from your body. In most cases, it takes anywhere from four to five days for it to be fully eliminated. 

Like other drugs, some factors play a significant role in how long it stays in your system. Your body weight, age, and hepatic function are the primary factors and play the largest role in how long Flexeril remains in your body. If you’re older or have impaired hepatic functioning, your body will face additional hurdles to eliminate the drug from your system. Those with fast metabolisms can shed the drug from their systems faster. The amount of Flexeril the person was taking also plays a role in how long it takes to be flushed from their system. A person who takes large amounts will hold onto it longer because of the accumulation in your body. 

How Long Does Flexeril Stay In Your Hair, Urine, and Blood?

Different drug tests are available to determine if someone has recently used a substance like Flexeril. However, since it’s not common like opioids or benzos, it won’t appear on a standard drug testing panel. Flexeril is detectable in urine anywhere from five to 13 days after you’ve stopped using, two to four hours after use in a blood test, and for up to ten days. Flexeril will show up in a hair-based drug test for up to three days after use.

How Flexeril Affects the Body and Brain

Flexeril has a substantial impact on our central nervous system, which targets the brain stem. When a person uses the drug, it changes how pain signals are sent. By doing this, the medicine may also cause drowsiness, especially when used with other central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines, alcohol, or opioids. When taken in high doses, Flexeril will cause relaxation, which can lead to potential drug abuse. In some cases, when used in high doses, it can also cause cognitive and physical impairment. 

There have been reports of people experiencing ataxia when using the drugs in extreme doses, which is a neurological condition where someone loses control of their muscle movements. The most common side effects of Flexeril include fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. 

Can You Overdose on Flexeril?

Flexeril works on the central nervous system, similar to how tricyclic antidepressants work in our body. Despite it not producing a high or euphoria that you’d expect from benzodiazepines or opioids, many people abuse it because of its anxiolytic or relaxing effects. It can lead to someone using more than prescribed to experience its calming effects, which can cause an overdose. Without treatment, it can be fatal. If you’re taking Flexeril or know someone who is, you should know the signs of an overdose. 

The most common signs of Flexeril overdose include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

You’re more likely to overdose on Flexeril if it’s used in conjunction with other drugs, such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. Despite it not being considered addictive, addiction is possible. You should always be aware if you’re developing an addiction to the drug and speak with your doctor.

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