The Health Risks of Abusing Muscle Relaxants
The most popular drugs used as muscle relaxants are carisoprodol (Soma) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). Soma’s ability to be addictive is well known, as is its tendency to be combined with opiates and benzodiazepines for a heroin-like high. This combination even has its own nickname: the Houston Cocktail because this combination was common in the Houston area. Flexeril is also a drug of abuse and is addictive.
Brain/Central Nervous System
Because it is a depressant of the central nervous system, Soma acts like a sedative. When abused in a Houston Cocktail, it is far too easy for all these depressants to accumulate and suppress one’s respiration to the point of death. In fact, Soma abuse alone can send the user into a coma or even cause death.
Flexeril can have severe nervous system and mental effects, including seizures, convulsions, loss of muscle tone, disorientation, anxiety, hallucinations and psychosis.
Blood and Heart
Soma is rather unique in the health damage it creates. It is found in some users that they either lack a sufficient number of white blood cells or they lack a sufficient number of ANY KIND of blood cells. Insufficient white blood cells means that a person will have lowered immunity and be at risk for all kinds of illnesses or infections.
A person suffering from a shortage of all types of blood cells will be pale and possibly suffer from an enlarged spleen and liver; fever and weight loss.
Flexeril use at normal dosages is associated with rapid and irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure. It is also associated with abnormalities in the blood, including low white blood cell count and reduction in the number of platelets, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding. Abuse at higher-than-normal dosages presents far more danger.
Liver and Kidneys
Carisoprodol is broken down in the liver and the kidneys so these organs receive the most stress as a result of abuse. If a person has impaired liver or kidney function, they may accumulate too much of the drug in the body and unintentionally overdose.
With Flexeril, there is greater evidence for liver damage. Side effects of the drug at recommended dosages include inflammation and swelling of the liver (hepatitis), abnormal liver tests, jaundice and blockage of the flow of bile from the liver into the intestines (cholestasis).
Babies and Fertility
No studies have been done on the effects of carisoprodol on human fetuses or on fertility. Perhaps there should have been studies of this type before people were given this drug. In animal studies, carisoprodol was found to cause damage to chromosomes and reduce the viability of sperm. It was also found to cross the placental barrier and have a negative effect on fetal growth and survival rates of baby animals.
Soma may reduce production of a mother’s milk and in animal studies, baby animals that were weaned from mothers being given Soma had lower weights. Babies who receive Soma in breast milk may be sedated and therefore may not feed properly.
There have been no studies of the birth or fetal effects of Flexeril.
Carisoprodol has been taken off the market in Sweden, Norway and Indonesia due to the amount of the drug that was diverted for abuse and because the side effects were unacceptable.
It seems that some people will abuse almost anything that will make them feel “funny” and out of control. Some people buy and abuse pills meant to keep a person from getting carsick or airsick. But even this can be harmful.
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