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Tizandine Addiction

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Tizanidine: What You Need to Know

Tizanidine, often sold under the brand name Zanaflex, is a prescription medication used to manage muscle pain and stiffness. While it offers relief for many suffering from muscle spasms, tizanidine can be addictive, especially for those already struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. Here’s a closer look at the potential risks associated with tizanidine use.

What Does Tizanidine Treat?

Tizanidine works by relaxing muscles throughout the body, alleviating pain and stiffness caused by muscle spasms. It’s typically prescribed for short-term use after injuries, surgeries, or muscle spasms related to neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis.

Understanding Tizanidine Dependence

Unlike narcotic pain medications, tizanidine doesn’t directly interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. However, it can still lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms if misused. This is because tizanidine interacts with other neurotransmitters in the brain that influence relaxation and mood. When taken at high doses or for extended periods, the body can become reliant on tizanidine to maintain these feelings of relaxation. When someone stops taking tizanidine abruptly after developing a dependence, they may experience withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to the absence of the medication.

Important Warnings About Tizanidine

Tizanidine offers relief for many, but it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks before using it. Here are some important warnings to consider:

  • Tizanidine dependence can develop quickly: Unlike some medications that take time to become addictive, dependence on tizanidine can develop in a relatively short period, especially if taken at high doses or for longer than prescribed.
  • Pre-existing conditions can increase the risk: If you have a history of substance abuse or mental health issues like anxiety or depression, you may be more susceptible to tizanidine misuse and dependence. Be sure to discuss your medical history with your doctor before starting tizanidine.
  • Potential for serious side effects: Tizanidine can cause side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and hallucinations. These side effects can be dangerous, especially for older adults or those who operate machinery or drive.
  • Interaction with other medications: Tizanidine can interact with other medications, including some antidepressants and pain medications. It’s important to inform your doctor about all medications you’re taking before starting tizanidine.


How Tizanidine Can Affect Mental Health

  • Tizanidine can cause side effects that may worsen existing mental health conditions. Drowsiness, dizziness, and hallucinations are potential side effects. Drowsiness can interfere with daily activities and make it difficult to concentrate, which can worsen feelings of anxiety or depression. Hallucinations, which are false perceptions that can seem very real, can be particularly distressing and can worsen symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia.
  • In addition to these specific side effects, tizanidine may also indirectly worsen mental health by interfering with sleep. Muscle relaxants can sometimes cause drowsiness, but they can also disrupt sleep architecture, leading to fragmented sleep and making it difficult to feel rested. Poor sleep is a known risk factor for worsening anxiety and depression symptoms.

Signs of Tizanidine Dependence

If you experience a cluster of the following symptoms after abruptly stopping tizanidine, it could be a sign of dependence:

  • Physical symptoms: Tremors, muscle stiffness or tightness (which can be worse than before you started taking tizanidine), sweating, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, hallucinations (in some cases).

Tizanidine Statistics

According to a study published in the journal ClinCalc DrugStats Database, tizanidine prescriptions peaked in 2021 at over 8.1 million prescriptions filled in the United States with an estimated patients count at 2.2 million. It’s been observed that addiction begins once a dose exceeds between 20mg & 36mg daily.  

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider, we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390. Also, check out our blogs posted weekly on Medium.


Tizanidine can be an effective treatment for muscle spasms, but it’s not suitable for everyone. People with liver or kidney problems, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with a history of certain allergies should not take tizanidine. It’s crucial to discuss your medical history with your doctor before starting this medication.

There are several alternative medications available for treating muscle spasms, such as baclofen, cyclobenzaprine, and methocarbamol. Each medication has its own benefits and risks, so your doctor will recommend the best option based on your individual needs and medical history.

Take tizanidine exactly as prescribed, for the shortest duration possible. Don’t increase your dosage or take it for longer than recommended. If you experience any concerning side effects or suspect dependence, talk to your doctor immediately.

If you’re concerned about tizanidine dependence, don’t try to stop taking it abruptly. This can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. There are also resources available to help you manage dependence, such as addiction treatment centers

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