Muscle relaxants, also known as muscle relaxers, are prescription medications intended to ease the effects of a variety of health problems that produce abnormal spasming in the body’s skeletal muscles. Some of these medications rank among the most commonly used prescription substances in the U.S.
Unlike many other drugs or medications that come with a potential for misuse and abuse, muscle relaxants are not tightly restricted under a federal law called the Controlled Substances Act. Despite this fact, these medications can act as the source of serious problems that include physical dependence and overdose when taken on their own or in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Basic Facts About Other Muscle Relaxants
There are two basic types of muscle relaxants: antispastics and antispasmodics. Doctors use antispastic medications to relieve muscle spasms that stem from nerve dysfunction-related ailments such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Conversely, antispasmodics are used to relieve muscle spasms associated with unspecified back pain and other conditions that don’t stem directly from problems in the nervous system. Some muscle relaxants have both antispastic and antispasmodic properties.
Typically, muscle relaxant abuse involves the misuse of antispasmodic medications, which doctors prescribe much more widely than antispastic medications. Commonly prescribed antispasmodics in the U.S. include cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), methocarbamol (Robaxin), metaxalone (Skelaxin) and carisoprodol (Soma).
Addiction to Soma
Like all medications, muscle relaxants are broken down and processed once they enter the body. When the widely prescribed relaxant Soma breaks down in the body, it chemically transforms into another prescription medication, called meprobamate, classified as a depressant or tranquilizer. Like all depressants, meprobamate produces its effects by substantially altering normal function inside the body’s central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
Repeated exposure to meprobamate is a known potential source of physical dependence, a condition that occurs when the brain comes to rely on the presence of a given substance to function normally. Even when used in accordance with a doctor’s instructions, Soma can trigger physical dependence, as well as symptoms of withdrawal when use of the medication ceases. The risks for these problems escalate considerably in people who abuse Soma or use the medication without a prescription. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Soma Overdose Risks
Antispasmodic muscle relaxants produce their beneficial effects by reducing nerve signals in the brain and spinal cord that lead to muscle overstimulation. Potential side effects of these medications include sleepiness, lightheadedness, an abnormally rapid heartbeat, a confused mental state, an agitated or anxious mental state, and a psychotic mental state marked by delusional thinking and hallucinations. People who take too much of a muscle relaxant can experience intensified versions of some of these symptoms that overwhelm the body’s normal ability to function and trigger the onset of a medication overdose.
A federal agency called the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) uses a project called the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) to, among other things, track the number of people in the U.S. who require emergency room treatment for muscle relaxant abuse. The most recent available figures from DAWN found that 46,269 individuals received ER treatment for a muscle relaxant-related incident; this number represented approximately 3.7 percent of all medication-related emergency room visits across the country.
Combination with Other Substances
Over half of all medication-related trips to the emergency room in the U.S. involve the use of at least two substances. Multiple substance use is noted as a common factor in ER trips associated with the intake of muscle relaxants. For example, in 2009, only 18 percent of all Soma users who received emergency treatment just took Soma. In contrast, 25 percent of the affected individuals took one other substance, while 33 percent took two other substances. Twelve percent of all affected individuals took at least four other substances in combination with the muscle relaxant. Substances found in the systems of Soma users receiving ER treatment include narcotic painkillers, benzodiazepine sedatives or tranquilizers, and alcohol. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.