Muscle Relaxers And Alcohol: Is Drinking On Muscle Relaxers Lethal?

Last Updated: June 12, 2020

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Can you drink alcohol with muscle relaxers? Alcohol is contraindicated for many types of medications. Muscle relaxers and alcohol side effects are similar. Both substances deliver a depressant effect and act on the central nervous system. This causes the body functions to slow down, that includes the heartbeat and breathing. In essence, alcohol usually interacts with one or more components in medications and causes its impact on the body to become magnified, making overdose highly likely.

Why Do People Combine Alcohol And Muscle Relaxants?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that mixing alcohol and medicine, that includes mixing muscle relaxers and beer, may interact in harmful ways even when these are not taken together. The agency also notes two other factors that may increase risks for alcohol-muscle relaxant interactions: sex and age.

Habitually or deliberately drinking on muscle relaxers is a sign of substance abuse or misuse. Do muscle relaxers make one high? Yes, they have been reported to cause mild to severe degrees of euphoric high. People who abuse muscle relaxants observe that alcohol amplifies the high that can be derived from an alcohol-muscle relaxant mix.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a report on prescription drugs misuse among adults. The study includes prescription tranquilizers, where data about muscle relaxant drugs are lodged. The informants indicated that the top two reasons for misusing prescription tranquilizers were: to get relaxed and to get better sleep.
When alcohol and muscle relaxers are combined, the depressant effect of both types of substances on the central nervous system is magnified. This lowers the threshold for an overdose to occur.
muscle relaxants and alcohol
In other cases, alcohol may limit the efficacy of prescription muscle relaxants. The same may appear to OTC muscle relaxant alternatives as well. The person then will tend to increase the dosage or frequency of intake; thus, the risk of getting an overdose on muscle relaxers increases.

What Side Effects Can An Alcohol-Muscle Relaxant Combination Produce?

Combining alcohol and muscle relaxers intensifies the sedating effects of both substances. On that note, how long does it take for muscle relaxers to kick in? Most muscle relaxants begin affecting the system within 30 minutes from intake and stay in effect for as long as six hours. During which time, side effects associated with these drugs also become noticeable and may become gravely magnified with alcohol intake.
These drugs can produce severe side effects. This is why other measures, such as the use of herbal muscle relaxant or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), must first be explored before taking prescription-only muscle relaxants.
Following are side effects that may arise from alcohol-muscle relaxant interactions:

Nervous System Side Effects

Combining muscle relaxers and alcohol increases adverse impacts on the nervous system, that includes difficulty concentrating, sleepiness, and dizziness.
With increasing dependence, misuse, or abuse, these side effects, including impaired thinking, confusion, memory lapses, and poor judgment, become more frequent and impact on the nervous system becomes more permanent.

Digestive Issues

Common complaints include constipation and dry mouth. Over time or with increasing dependence, this can lead to liver damage, kidney damage, and edema.

Poor Coordination

Combining muscle relaxers and alcohol also makes motor control and coordination more difficult. This is why it is vital not to drive or operate machinery when one is taking muscle relaxants, and of course if they were mixed with alcohol.
woman falling after using muscle relaxers with alcohol

Poor Vision

People who abuse muscle relaxers and alcohol report blurred vision. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage to the eyes.

Increased Risk For Addiction And Overdose

Early signs of addiction to alcohol-muscle relaxant combination such as slow or shallow breathing and slower heartbeat may lead to chronic fainting, low blood pressure, higher risk for experiencing seizures, and death.
In which case, prompt detoxification as part of a more comprehensive professional medical treatment comes highly recommended to prevent side effects from escalating to irreversible and more severe complications.

What To Do If One Has Already Had Alcohol?

In case alcohol and muscle relaxant have been taken together, follow the tips below to help ensure one’s safety:

  • Ask for help. The drug-alcohol interaction will make one dizzy and impair the focus. It is essential to be with someone a patient trust during this time.
  • Note signs and symptoms of overdose. Other than the side effects mentioned above, look out for the following: excessive sweating, hallucinations, and violent behavior.
  • Administer First Aid as needed. Check for pulse and open up the airways. Ask for medical emergency help. While waiting for the emergency team to arrive, try to get more information on what specific drugs and alcohol were taken, and how much time has elapsed since intake.

Can Muscle Relaxers Be A Treatment For Alcohol Abuse?

Anecdotal reports of people taking muscle relaxers to help curb addiction to alcohol has just been confirmed in 2018 when France approved the use of Baclofen for alcohol addiction treatment. The move was taken after a study published in the Frontiers of Psychiatry, established the positive effect of Baclofen in treating people who have a history of alcohol dependence.
If one also wonders is alcohol a muscle relaxant, the answer is no.

When Is It Safe To Drink Again?

Some muscle relaxants, like Flexeril, take up to more than one week before they are completely cleared from the system. This makes consulting with the doctor imperative so that the half-life of the specific muscle relaxant taken can be established. Besides, different medications interact with alcohol differently.

In the case of misusing muscle relaxant and alcohol, the person affected and loved ones should consider enrollment in a rehabilitation program that includes supervision of a medical professional to improve the prospect for sustainable recovery.

Page Sources

  1. Rachel N. Lipari, Ph.D., Matthew Williams, Ph.D., and Struther L. Van Horn, M.A., WHY DO ADULTS MISUSE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS?,
  2. Nicolas Simon, Romain Moirand, Maurice Dematteis, Régis Bordet, Dominique Deplanque, Benjamin Rolland, Full-Profile Pharmacokinetic Study of High Dose Baclofen in Subjects With Alcohol Use Disorder,
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, Mixing Alcohol With Medicines,

Published on: August 14th, 2019

Updated on: June 12th, 2020

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


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