Tizanidine is a muscle relaxant or antispasmodic prescription medication that’s taken orally and used to treat muscle spasms and pain caused by spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis. These health issues are also linked to symptoms like muscle rigidity and hypertonia. In these cases, tizanidine hydrochloride is used as a muscle relaxant to mitigate pain. However, as with any medication, there’s always a risk of use, and today’s question is: is tizanidine addictive?
Since it alleviates pain, is tizanidine a narcotic? No. While narcotics are substances traditionally used to treat pain by binding to receptors in the nervous system – such as opioids - tizanidine is a muscle relaxer.
Also known by brand names like Comfort Pac-tizanidine and Zanaflex, tizanidine belongs to a class of drugs called central alpha-2-adrenergic agonists. These drugs work by blocking nerve impulses or pain sensations between the brain and body, specifically pain that occurs around the skeletal muscle areas. In other words, Zanaflex slows down communication in the brain and nervous system to relax the muscles and alleviate tension, spasms, and pain.
For this reason, Zanaflex aids in alleviating symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects nerve function and contributes to loss of muscle coordination, weakness, vision problems, bladder control, and stroke. Other symptoms that may warrant tizanidine use include injury to the spine or central nervous system (CNS), spastic diplegia, and back pain.
The powdered version of the tizanidine (tizanidine hydrochloride) is a white or off-white, fine crystalline powder with a faint odor that’s made into tablets or capsules. These tablets are then sold under the brand name Zanaflex. Tizanidine is only available with a prescription and should not be taken without one.
In addition to pain relief, tizanidine may also cause some unwanted side effects, such as:
More serious tizanidine side effects include unusual bleeding or bruising, pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, unexplained flu-like symptoms, yellowing of the eyes or skin, and vision changes. If you experience any of these side effects while taking Zanaflex, speak to your doctor right away.
Drugs with depressant effects, like muscle relaxants, are often used recreationally to achieve a euphoric high. While the effects of muscle relaxers are similar to the effects of CNS depressants, they aren’t usually the first choice of someone who’s trying to achieve a high. But can you get high off of tizanidine?
Tizanidine isn’t a controlled substance, meaning that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t consider it to have a high potential for abuse or addiction. However, consistently taking high doses of Zanaflex, or higher doses than prescribed, can produce extreme sedation and drowsiness, which recreational users might seek out. But, to be clear, a Zanaflex high is not euphoric, but rather it’s marked by extreme sedation.
As a result of chronic tizanidine abuse, users develop a physical dependence on the drug. Drug dependence occurs when the body requires a drug to function normally, and when it goes too long without it, the body may experience a reaction referred to as withdrawal. With dependence comes tolerance, which is when the brain and body have become accustomed to a particular dose of a drug.
Long-term tizanidine abuse would require the person to continually increase their dose of the drug and make it difficult for them to quit without medical detox or support. Taking these high doses is also more likely to produce unwanted side effects rather than a high.
Although tizanidine is not addictive like opioids or benzodiazepines are, it can lead to tolerance and physical dependence. Additionally, tizanidine can be addictive psychologically, meaning the user might develop an emotional or mental attachment to the drug. In these cases, the person might feel they have to keep using the drug to feel normal or be happy.
Zanaflex abuse does not lead to a substance use disorder, but it can lead to withdrawal symptoms when doses are reduced or eliminated. Withdrawals are the brain and body’s reaction to a sudden depletion in a drug that was made familiar to the person’s system. Quitting tizanidine suddenly in long-term use can lead to symptoms like high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, tremors, anxiety, agitation, and more.
Withdrawal symptoms of any prescription drug can be difficult to manage without prescription pill detox. If you’ve used any medication for a long time and want to quit, seek out medical attention to do so and help avoid any complications.
Although Zanaflex (tizanidine) is safe to take when taken as prescribed, it can lead to dangerous side effects when abused. It’s important to remain vigilant for signs of abuse in yourself or others who might be taking this medication. Most people who abuse tizanidine do so because they're experiencing extreme pain and want to relieve it.
Common signs of tizanidine abuse include:
The long-term effects of tizanidine abuse include nervousness, blurred vision, sporadic movements, chronic runny nose, and more. Impaired thinking and other serious side effects may occur if prescription drug addiction treatment is not received. While this particular drug does not have the addictive nature of opioids or benzos, drug abuse of any kind can lead to permanent physical and psychological damage.
Withdrawal symptoms should always be supervised by a medical team, which is why most patients at our Texas drug rehab start with drug or alcohol detox. Detox is an important step in addiction recovery because it provides an additional level of support, comfort, and safety during the withdrawal period, which decreases the risk of relapse.
Going off Zanaflex alone can be dangerous, and for individuals who have become dependent on or addicted to this drug, it’s best to receive care at a facility like ours. Banyan Treatment Center offers inpatient drug addiction treatment in Texas that includes both physical and psychological modalities to help patients recover from substance abuse from the inside out.
No matter how long-term your addiction is, our specialists can help. Call Banyan Treatment Center Texas today at 888-280-4763 to learn how to get started.