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Methocarbamol Abuse

Pain and discomfort can be caused by various factors that need to be medically addressed. Opioids are a common pain treatment  for people with chronic conditions or those who are recovering from surgery or an injury. However, muscle tension and spasms are common sources of pain. Injuries, especially to the spine, can cause musculoskeletal pain and other symptoms such as twitching, tightness, and uncomfortable spasms. 

Muscle relaxants like methocarbamol can help to alleviate muscle tension and pain without the use of an opioid, which can cause uncomfortable side effects and even addiction. However, perhaps to a lesser degree than opioids, methocarbamol can be abused by people looking for recreational drugs. Learn more about methocarbamol abuse and its consequences.

What Is Methocarbamol?

Methocarbamol is a muscle relaxant that’s used to treat musculoskeletal pain. It’s sold under the brand name Robaxin, and it was first approved in the United States in 1957. It’s in a class of drugs called carbamates, which have similar chemical structures. 

Methocarbamol is often used alongside substance use physical therapy to improve muscle flexibility and reduce pain. Methocarbamol works in the brain to slow down the central nervous system, particularly when it comes to signals that control muscle tension. Though it has the qualities of some central nervous system depressants, it works in a way that’s different from drugs such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, which directly influence a chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Methocarbamol isn’t generally used for the treatment of neurological and musculoskeletal problems like cerebral palsy. Instead, it’s prescribed for short-term use and becomes less effective after a few weeks.

Does Methocarbamol Have High Abuse Potential?

Methocarbamol isn’t a controlled substance in the United States. Medications like opioids and benzodiazepines are scheduled drugs, which means they are considered to have various levels of usefulness and abuse potential. However, just because methocarbamol isn’t a scheduled drug, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be abused. 
Methocarbamol can cause sedation and relaxation, similar to weak depressants like lorazepam. For that reason, it may be abused by people looking for a relaxing euphoric high. However, studies have found that methocarbamol has a lower abuse potential than other carbamates. In high doses, it can cause dysphoria, which is the sense that something is wrong or generally uneasiness or dissatisfaction. These unpleasant symptoms might deter most people from developing a pattern of methocarbamol abuse.

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What Happens If You Abuse Methocarbamol?

Abusing methocarbamol in high doses can cause some sense of relaxation or euphoria, but it may also cause unpleasant side effects. High doses may make it more likely for you to experience unpleasant symptoms like drowsiness, nausea, tachycardia (fast or irregular heart rhythm), skin rash, fainting, jaundice, and urinary problems. Large doses can cause dysphoria and suicidal thoughts. Anxiety and depression can also occur with long-term use or high doses.

Mixing methocarbamol with other drugs like depressants and opioids could increase your risk of an overdose. Overdose symptoms can be deadly if they cause heart-related changes or slowed breathing.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids

Preston, K. L., Wolf, B., Guarino, J. J., & Griffiths, R. R. (1992, August). Subjective and behavioral effects of diphenhydramine, lorazepam and methocarbamol: evaluation of abuse liability. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1501118

RxList. (2019, September 17). Gamma-aminobutyric Acid: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/gamma-aminobutyric_acid/supplements.htm

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017, August 17). Methocarbamol: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682579.html

RxList. (2018, February 6). Benzodiazepines Drug Class: Side Effects, Types & Uses. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/benzodiazepines/drug-class.htm

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