Tizanidine is a prescription drug used to treat disorders related to muscle spasticity due to spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. The drug, also known under its brand name Zanaflex, shares characteristics similar to medications such as baclofen or diazepam (Valium). However, it does not fall under the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.
Benzos are potent drugs that can cause users to feel drowsy beyond the ability to function. Many people who use the medications cannot tolerate the effects. Tizanidine is as effective as benzos, but it is much more tolerable when consumed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the medication in December 1996 for musculoskeletal neurology therapy and has been shown to provide significant relief of symptoms that cause muscle weakness.
One of the primary reasons tizanidine was developed is to treat the debilitating disorder multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a long-lasting disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves in the eyes. The disorder can create problems with balance, vision, muscle control, and other essential body functions that we may take for granted.
The effects differ from one person to another, and some may have mild symptoms, whereas some may be rendered handicapped due to the condition. It occurs when the immune system attacks myelin, which wraps around the nerve fibers and serves the purpose of protecting them.
Without the outer shell of protection, the nerves become damaged, and scar tissue begins to form. The damage also inhibits the brain from sending signals through the body properly, and the nerves don’t work as they should to help you move or feel.
Multiple sclerosis is most prevalent in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and sections of Australia, but it is less common in Asia and the tropics. Areas farther north from the equator trend higher in terms of MS cases and the disorders are much more common in females than males. It first appears between the ages of 30 and 35 but takes effect between the ages of 45 and 64.
It is deemed the most widespread disabling neurological condition of young adults. There are different types of relapsing, remitting, and progressive types of MS, but it is incredibly unpredictable. Healthline estimates that nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with MS, which is more than double the last number reported in 1975. They estimate 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the U.S. alone.
Unfortunately, tizanidine produces effects that can lead to substance abuse. While many use it as an alternative to the more potent benzos, the euphoric effects and relief provided by the medication can cause many users to take more than prescribed, use it recreationally, or begin abusing the drug. It can lead to severe liver damage, which ultimately can lead to liver failure. Let’s delve a little deeper into tizanidine and if it is an addictive drug.
What is Tizanidine?
Tizanidine is described as a skeletal muscle relaxant. It treats the muscle spasticity that comes from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke, or brain injury. In rare cases, it can be prescribed as an off-label aid for sleep, as well as fibromyalgia and severe migraines. The maximum dose of the drug is 16 mg (milligrams) for one sitting, and no more than 36 milligrams per day.
The medication produces a sedative effect, and those who use it report feeling a “buzz,” despite it not being a narcotic medication. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not consider it a controlled substance, but recreational use is on the rise due to the effects it causes. Those who abuse tizanidine crush the pills into powder and snort it, which is a common method to “get the most out of the high.”
Side Effects of Tizanidine
There are Side Effects that Can Occur with this Medication. Each User May Experience Different Side Effects, But Some of the Most Common Ones Are:
- Pain in the stomach
- Dry mouth
- Back pain
- Tingling sensation in the arms, hands, legs, and feet
Unfortunately, Severe Side Effects Can Occur as Well. These Include:
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Slowed heartbeat
- Extreme drowsiness
- Appetite loss
- Vision changes
Is Tizanidine an Addictive Drug?
Unfortunately, since the drug provides a sense of euphoria, it has great potential to be abused. A way to determine if someone has become addicted is if they’ve developed a tolerance or dependence.
“An addiction to tizanidine is when the user shows compulsive, drug-seeking behavior to obtain more of the medication despite the consequences. The most common individuals that abuse the substance will be those suffering from complications of a stroke, or multiple sclerosis. ”
There are Ways to Determine if You or a Loved One Has Become Addicted to Tizanidine. These Include:
- Taking more tizanidine than intended for a longer period than prescribed
- Excessive time spent obtaining the drug
- Failing to meet obligations due to drug use
- Giving up hobbies as a result of drug use
- Experience symptoms of withdrawal when quitting tizanidine
If you or a loved one is experiencing any changes in their lifestyle as a result of drug abuse, it can indicate a tizanidine addiction. In the event of this occurring, they must seek help immediately.