Substance Use

Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol: Dangers and Risks

muscle relaxers and alcohol

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Many people take muscle relaxers to treat muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. If you have been prescribed muscle relaxers by your doctor, it’s important to check with them before consuming alcohol. Mixing alcohol and muscle relaxers can lead to severe side effects like respiratory depression and overdose. (1)

Muscle relaxers are effective for pain relief caused by certain conditions, but taking them with alcohol could lead to dangerous side effects.

Since alcohol and muscle relaxers depress the central nervous system, you should never mix them. Here’s what you need to know about alcohol use, muscle relaxers, and substance use treatment.

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What Are Muscle Relaxers?

Muscle relaxers are a type of medication prescribed to treat muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. (2)

There are two main types of muscle relaxers, one of which works on the brain and the other on the spinal cord. Both reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.

1. Central-Acting Muscle Relaxants

Central-acting muscle relaxants do their job by blocking signals sent between the brain and spinal cord. In most cases, these medications are typically prescribed for pain, stiffness, and spasms. (3)

Some examples of central-acting muscle relaxants include:

2. Peripheral-Acting Muscle Relaxants

Peripheral-acting muscle relaxants impact muscles directly and they work to reduce muscle contractions, but they can also interfere with motor control.

These medications are often used for conditions that cause spasticity, like spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy. An example of a peripheral-acting muscle relaxant is dantrolene. (5)

Muscle relaxers may be prescribed for a variety of conditions, including back pain and injury. However, before taking a muscle relaxant, it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider about the risks and side effects.

Some people try to self-medicate with muscle relaxers, which can have dangerous consequences. This is especially true when it comes to mental health conditions like anxiety or insomnia. 

Trying to use the sedative properties of muscle relaxers to calm your body and help you sleep could lead to accidental death. There could also be long-term health implications.

If you or a loved one is taking muscle relaxers without a prescription, reach out to a doctor to discuss the reasons why. If needed, they can help you get a proper diagnosis for mental health disorders so that you or your loved one can find the safest medication that works best.

Common Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers can be very effective at treating conditions that cause acute low back pain along with pain, stiffness, and spasticity throughout the body, but they generally aren’t taken over the long term. (5)

Muscle relaxers may also be used in conjunction with techniques like physical therapy, due to their side effects and risks.

Some of the most common side effects of taking muscle relaxers include: (6)

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, which can contribute to dental problems
  • Headaches
  • Weak muscles to the point of collapse or shakiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Allergic reactions

After taking a muscle relaxer, you’ll start to feel the effects rapidly. Generally, the effects will stick around for 4-6 hours, but it depends on the exact medication you’re taking and your dose.

What Happens When You Mix Muscle Relaxers With Alcohol?

If you have been prescribed muscle relaxers by your doctor, it’s important to ask them before consuming alcohol. Typically, alcohol should never be mixed with prescription medications, especially a muscle relaxer.

If you find yourself thinking about combining these two substances, it’s important to consider why. Most people who are drinking alcohol and taking prescription medications are trying to amplify the effects of alcohol, which is a sign of alcohol addiction.

The reason why mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol is dangerous is that both act as central nervous system depressants. This means that both have a sedative effect on your body by slowing your breathing and reducing your heart rate.

The other dangers of mixing muscle relaxers and alcohol include:

  • Reduced coordination
  • Impaired judgment
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver damage
  • Memory problems

Whenever you mix two depressants, you put yourself at increased risk of overdosing or alcohol poisoning. (7)

Short-Term Side Effects of Mixing Muscle Relaxants and Alcohol

Combining muscle relaxants with alcohol can lead to immediate side effects. You may experience increased drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. Your coordination might be affected, making tasks like driving unsafe. 

Mixing these substances could amplify the sedative effects, causing slurred speech and impaired judgment. Additionally, the risk of accidents or injuries rises due to reduced alertness.

Long-Term Side Effects of Mixing Muscle Relaxants and Alcohol

Persistent use of muscle relaxants and alcohol together poses serious long-term risks. Chronic issues may arise, including heightened sedation and a higher risk of accidents. Prolonged use may lead to dependency on both substances, fostering addiction. (8)

This dual dependence can contribute to severe health problems, such as liver damage and cognitive impairments. Long-lasting impacts on mental health and overall well-being are potential consequences of the continued mixing of muscle relaxants and alcohol. It’s crucial to understand and address these risks for a healthier future.

Why Do People Mix Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol?

People combine muscle relaxers and alcohol for various reasons. Some may self-medicate to alleviate pain or anxiety, thinking it enhances the effects of the medication. Others might accidentally mix them, not fully understanding the risks.

Social influences, like seeing others mix these substances without apparent harm, can contribute. Additionally, some individuals seek to intensify the relaxing or sedative effects, leading to a dangerous synergy between the substances.

What to Do if You Mixed Alcohol With Muscle Relaxants

If you’ve unintentionally mixed alcohol with muscle relaxants, there are crucial steps to take. Firstly, seek medical attention immediately, especially if you experience symptoms like severe drowsiness, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness. Do not drive or operate machinery.

Call emergency services or go to the nearest hospital. Be honest with healthcare providers about the substances you’ve consumed for accurate treatment. If you witness someone experiencing these symptoms, encourage them to seek help promptly.

Early intervention is essential to prevent potential complications.

How to Recognize Signs of Substance and Alcohol Abuse

The short-term effects of mixing alcohol with muscle relaxers can amplify feelings of intoxication, but it also puts a lot of strain on your body, including your liver, and it puts you at an increased risk of overdose, which is life-threatening.

You might be suffering from a substance use disorder if any of the following describes what you’re doing: (9)

  • Mixing alcohol with prescription medications to amplify the effects
  • Drinking alcohol with your medications even though you know you’re not supposed to
  • Suffering from alcohol withdrawal when you try not to drink
  • Overlooking the long-term effects of alcohol use, even when combining it with medications like muscle relaxers that increase your risk of seizures and serious side effects
  • Loss of some motor skills

It can be hard to admit that you’re facing alcohol addiction or drug addiction, and it can be even harder to take the first step to overcome it. Fortunately, a variety of treatment programs, different types of drug detox, and addiction treatment programs exist that can help you through the process.

Mixing Muscle Relaxers and Alcohol? We Can Help

Drug Abuse looks different for everyone. If you or someone you love is misusing alcohol or prescription drugs, it’s important to get help before they suffer the consequences of a harmful interaction.

At Zinnia Health, we believe in offering personalized, confidential care for every individual. Drug interactions are different for everyone, so why shouldn’t treatment be? Our treatment options include:

  • Flexible inpatient and outpatient programs
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Multiple therapies, including music and art therapy
  • Extensive support even after you finish your program

We believe addiction treatment should address the whole individual, which is why we’ll work with you to come up with a program that addresses your unique needs and goals at our variety of treatment centers. Don’t let Xanax, diazepam, or any similar drug, ruin your life.

Ready to take the next step? Zinnia Health is standing by to help with withdrawal symptoms and substance abuse. Our team is available 24/7 to answer your questions. Just dial (855) 430-9439 to get started.


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Ready to get help?
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Why call us? Why call us