Tizanidine Addiction and Abuse

Tizanidine Addiction and Abuse

What is Tizanidine?

Tizanidine is a muscle relaxer that works by blocking pain signals from the nervous system that are sent to the brain. It is also used to treat constantly contracting muscles by relaxing muscle tone. It is a short-acting drug, so up to 3 doses a day may be prescribed. Tizanidine is currently sold under the brand name Zanaflex.

In 1996, Tizanidine was approved for use in the United States.1 More than 6.4 million Tizanidine prescriptions were filled in 2016.2

Is Tizanidine Addictive?

There is a potential for abuse and dependence to Tizanidine. This drug is closely related to clonidine, which is frequently abused with narcotics and can lead to rebound symptoms if use suddenly stops. A research study found three cases of withdrawal symptoms when Tizanidine was abruptly stopped.3 The study suggested that the participants were also misusing narcotics. Withdrawal symptoms included:

High blood pressure

Elevated heart rate

Stiff muscles that are hard to move



Withdrawal symptoms were found to occur more in people who were using high doses, especially for long periods, or if they used narcotics at the same time.

Tizanidine is in the drug class of alpha-2-adrenergic agonists. These drugs work to reduce nerve activity in the area of the spinal cord that controls muscles. This helps decrease muscle spasms. Tizanidine is not a narcotic.

Is Tizanidine Safe?

This medication is safe to use as long as it is taken at prescribed levels.

Research shows that:


60% to 82% of people taking the medication as prescribed showed improvements in muscle tone.4


Mean muscle tone scores were reduced by 21% and 37% in people taking the medication.


There was good to excellent global tolerability in 44% to 100% of the people taking the medication. 

Tolerability is the level to which negative effects can be tolerated by the person.

In rare cases, it was reported to have caused acute liver injury, and some cases were fatal. It’s recommended that people who take the medication have blood tests often to check liver function.

Certain drugs can increase the likelihood of side effects, and these include (but are not limited to):

Some antibiotics

Heart rhythm drugs

Oral contraceptives

Benzodiazepines such as valium

Opioid drugs such as methadone, morphine, or oxycodone

Stomach acid medicines

Blood pressure drugs

Some antidepressant medications

Always talk with your doctor about all the medications you are taking before you begin taking anything new. This includes over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

How is It Used and Misused?

Tizanidine is primarily used to treat people with:5

Multiple sclerosis

Spinal cord injury

Muscle spasms

Unusual muscle stiffness

Cluster headaches

The medication doesn’t cure these issues but helps people handle other treatments such as physical therapy, which can help improve the condition for which they are being treated. It is a short-acting drug, and its effects are strongest between 1 and 3 hours after it is taken. Therefore, most people take it right before daily activities only when they need to reduce symptoms such as muscle spasms.

Some people who have insomnia abuse Tizanidine. That’s because a common side effect of the drug is sleepiness. Also, people battling chronic pain may misuse the drug.

Can You Overdose on Tizanidine?

Yes, you can overdose on Tizanidine. Seek emergency medical help right away if any of the following symptoms happen:

Blurry vision

Chest pain



Feeling lightheaded when getting up from lying down

Slow and shallow breathing

Blue lips, fingernails, or skin

Slow or irregular heartbeat

Extreme tiredness

Loss of consciousness


Difficulty breathing


Irregular or rapid breathing


Extreme sleepiness


Unusual weakness

Tizanidine Effects

Short-term Effects

Drinking alcohol is associated with an increase in the side effects of Tizanidine.

Common side effects include:



Chest pain or discomfort

Stomach pain

Blurry vision

Dry mouth

Runny nose



Uncontrolled muscle movements



Back pain


Flu-like symptoms

Speech troubles

Sore throat



Long-term Effects

The long-term effects include:

Abnormal liver function tests

Weight gain

Uriniation problems


Cautions and Drug Interactions

Tizanidine should be used with caution with medications like:

diazepam (Valium)

oxycodone (Roxicodone)

amitriptyline (Elavil)

nortriptyline (Pamelor)

zolpidem (Ambien)

Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding while using the drug.

Stopping Use of Tizanidine

What is Withdrawal Like?

Withdrawal signs can appear when the drug is suddenly stopped, just like with any substance that works on the central nervous system. Anytime you wish to stop taking the drug, first talk with your doctor about a tapering down schedule.

Although Tizanidine withdrawal syndrome is a potential long-term side effect of stopping the medication, it is not common. Rare withdrawal symptoms can include:






Increased heart rate

Treatment for Misuse

Tizanidine abuse needs formal treatment to avoid any withdrawal symptoms. First, talk with your prescribing doctor or a treatment center about the best option for your situation. You may need to undergo a medically supervised detox. Much of the detox need will depend on the length and severity of the misuse. It will also depend on any other medical conditions that may be present.

Do not try to stop taking the drug on your own. Doing so suddenly can be dangerous for you both physically and mentally. It can also lead to serious withdrawal effects. Professional treatment can provide the therapies you’ll need to get on the track to recovery. Discuss your situation when you speak to healthcare professionals; they are there to help. Contact your doctor or Laguna Shores Recovery for more information.

Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
100% Free and Confidential.  1 (855) 272-2461
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
100% Free and Confidential.
1 (855) 272-2461