Alcohol can interact with many types of medications, but how does it interact with muscle relaxers?

Article at a Glance:

Important points to remember about alcohol and muscle relaxers include:

  • The term muscle relaxers refer to a broad category of drugs that relieve acute muscle pain or muscle spasms
  • Combining muscle relaxers with alcohol is not recommended because it can produce dangerous side effects and increase overdose risk
  • Extreme dizziness, drowsiness, unusual behavior or memory problems may occur when drinking alcohol while using muscle relaxers
  • Alcohol makes an overdose more likely
  • If an overdose is suspected, contact medical help immediately

Alcohol and Muscle Relaxers

When experiencing muscle pain or spasms, some may turn to alcohol for minor pain relief. Drinking alcohol may produce some pain-relieving effects, but taking muscle relaxants at the same time as drinking is not advised. In general, it is not recommended to take muscle relaxers with alcohol due to the potential for dangerous side effects.

Muscle relaxers or muscle relaxants is a broad term that describes a group of medications that are used to treat acute muscle pain or muscle spasms.

Some examples of muscle relaxers include:

While these medications may work in slightly different ways, they all produce either muscle pain relief or muscle relaxation.

Additionally, medications in the benzodiazepine class, like diazepam (Valium), are also approved as muscle relaxants. However, these are often ineffective and have high abuse potentials.

Alcohol and Muscle Relaxer Side Effects

For most people, pain relief or muscle relaxation occurs about thirty minutes after taking the medication, and the effects last for four to six hours. However, with pain relief often comes side effects.

When alcohol is consumed with muscle relaxers, it makes side effects worse. Alcohol and muscle relaxers both depress the central nervous system in similar ways.

Alcohol use can worsen the common side effects of muscle relaxers, leading to symptoms like:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Excessive dizziness
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual behavior
  • Memory problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

More severe effects of alcohol and muscle relaxer use may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Urine retention
  • Low blood pressure or fainting
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of seizure
  • Risk of an overdose
  • Risk of addiction

Driving is unsafe when taking muscle relaxers alone, and adding alcohol makes it even more dangerous.

Additionally, certain muscle relaxers like carisoprodol are addictive. Mixing addictive muscle relaxant drugs with alcohol can lead to severe side effects.

Because muscle relaxers and alcohol depress the body in similar ways, their use can lead to slowed or shallow breathing that can lead to brain damage or death. An overdose is a medical emergency, so contact medical help immediately if one is suspected.

Overall, the combination of alcohol and muscle relaxers leads to dangerous side effects, is potentially addictive, and increases the risk of overdose.

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, don’t wait to get help. The Recovery Village offers comprehensive treatment for alcohol addiction at accredited rehab centers across the country. Call us today to speak with someone who can help you find the best program for you.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
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Medically Reviewed By – Nathan Jakowski, PharmD
Nate Jakowski is a clinical pharmacist specializing in drug information and managed care. He completed his Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Wisconsin. Read more

National Institute of Health. “Muscle Relaxants.” Published on October 30, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.

Friedman B, et al. “Diazepam Is No Better Than Placebo When […]Acute Low Back Pain.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Published August 2017. Accessed March 30, 2019.

Thompson, Trevor, et al. “Analgesic Effects of Alcohol: A Systemat[…]Healthy Participants.” The Journal of Pain, published in May 2017. Accessed March 30, 2019.

Citron Pharma. “Cyclobenzaprine Package Insert.” DailyMed, published in August 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.

Nostrum Laboratories. “Carisoprodol Package Insert.” DailyMed, published in September 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medications.” Published in 2014. Accessed March 27, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.