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Methocarbamol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is prescribed to alleviate short-term pain caused by strains, sprains, and other musculoskeletal injuries.

5 Minute Read | Published Oct 04 2023 | Updated Mar 01 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Common Trade Names: Robaxin

Methocarbamol is primarily used for pain management due to its muscle relaxant, antispasmodic, and sedative properties. Though its exact mechanism of action has yet to be fully established, current research generally attributes the drug’s effects to its ability to produce central nervous system depression. More specifically, methocarbamol works to inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the brain. On the other hand, it does not directly interact with the muscles themselves and has no perceptible direct influence on muscle function.

Methocarbamol is most often taken orally in tablet form, but it can also be injected intravenously or intramuscularly in clinical settings. It is currently a prescription-only drug in the United States.

Therapeutic Uses of Methocarbamol

Methocarbamol provides effective relief for acute musculoskeletal pain, stiffness, and involuntary muscle spasms and contractions. It’s typically prescribed in conjunction with rest, physical therapy, and other relevant procedures.

Off-label uses for methocarbamol that have been investigated in recent years include the treatment of both acute and chronic non-specific lower back pain, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and a range of other conditions.

Abuse Potential of Methocarbamol

Methocarbamol is not a controlled substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, and it is not generally recognized as an inherently addictive drug.  Unlike narcotics or opioid drugs, it does not relieve generalized pain. It likewise does not give rise to the feelings of euphoria that characterize a drug “high.” Studies tend to assert that due to particular characteristics such as these, methocarbamol has a relatively low potential for abuse compared to other drugs.

Despite the above conditions, however, methocarbamol does retain some abuse potential that necessitates its status as a prescription-only drug. Users may mistake the sedative effects of methocarbamol for a narcotic-like “high,” and chasing these effects could lead to repeated misuse or abuse of the drug. The abuse potential of methocarbamol is of particular concern among patients with a preexisting history of drug abuse.  Due to their prior experiences with other drugs like narcotics and stronger sedatives and hypnotics, these patients, tend to face a higher risk of also abusing non-opioid analgesics and muscle relaxants such as methocarbamol.

Methocarbamol Drug Interactions and Contraindications

Patients currently taking methocarbamol for therapeutic purposes or those who may attempt to abuse or misuse the drug should be aware of the substance interactions that may arise in the following cases: 

  • Other CNS depressants: Methocarbamol can intensify sedative effects like drowsiness when taken with substances such as prescription painkillers, cough and cold medicine, allergy medication, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-seizure drugs, tranquilizers, anesthetics, sleeping pills, and others. Caution should likewise be exercised when taking methocarbamol with alcohol.
  • Pyridostigmine bromide: Methocarbamol may impede the effects of pyridostigmine bromide, a common treatment for myasthenia gravis, and should thus be used sparingly by patients with this condition.

Methocarbamol is also not confirmed safe to use for pregnant women, as some studies have reported the development of fetal and congenital abnormalities following in utero exposure to the drug. Methocarbamol is thus not recommended for women who are (or may become) pregnant, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.

The safety and efficacy of taking methocarbamol among patients under the age of 16 have also not been established.

Possible Side Effects of Methocarbamol

Using methocarbamol may give rise to a number of side effects. Patients should seek medical attention if the following symptoms are severe, or persist over a long period of time:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Fever
  • Discolored urine
  • Dysphoria (feelings of unhappiness, restlessness, or general dissatisfaction)
  • Impaired psychomotor
  • Impaired cognitive performance

Patients who develop rashes or experience itching sensations upon taking methocarbamol should call their doctor immediately, as these may be signs of a potentially dangerous adverse drug reaction.

Identifying Methocarbamol Overdose

Methocarbamol overdose is possible, especially when it is used alongside alcohol, other CNS depressants, or psychotropic drugs. Signs of overdose may include:

  • Nausea
  • Intense drowsiness
  • Intense dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Shaking sensations or seizures
  • Breathing problems
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment Options for Individuals Dealing with Methocarbamol Abuse

If you are abusing methocarbamol, it may be time to reconsider your relationship with the drug and how much you depend on it to live your daily life. It would benefit you most to consult medical professionals who can help you determine the best steps you can take to address your substance abuse problem.

Individuals seeking drug rehab options for themselves or their loved ones typically have the option to choose between these two common treatment setups:

  • Inpatient treatment: This highly intensive treatment option requires the patient to live at the rehab facility for the duration of their treatment program. Treatment plans usually incorporate a variety of approaches, including medication for the adverse effects of drug use and co-occurring conditions, behavioral therapies, and counseling. These different modalities work in concert with one another to facilitate the patient’s physical recovery while also teaching them the necessary skills for staying sober and functional upon their return to daily life. Drug refusal strategies, impulse control strategies, and healthy coping mechanisms for cravings are just a few examples of such skills.
  • Outpatient treatment: This less intensive treatment option is recommended for patients with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have difficulty complying with the necessary treatment protocols prescribed for them. Outpatient drug rehab primarily revolves around regular visits to the treatment center for counseling and therapy sessions. Individuals taking advantage of outpatient care are thus free to continue living at home and may continue attending school, work, and the majority of their other regular activities.

If you or someone you know requires drug rehabilitation services, rest assured that most insurance plans offer at least a measure of coverage for addiction treatment. Furthermore, even patients without insurance can explore other financing options with a professional recovery support advisor.

Better Addiction Care, for instance, can be reached anytime at (800) 429-7690 to verify your insurance. Our advisors are also more than capable of helping you with finding a treatment center that’s appropriate for your particular budget, needs, and goals.

A Brief History of Methocarbamol

Methocarbamol was developed in the early 1950s and officially approved for use in 1957. Early studies of methocarbamol focused on its utility as a treatment for muscle spasms and for orthopedic conditions such as acute and chronic disc herniation.

Today, methocarbamol sees most common use as an adjunctive therapy for acute pain caused by musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. Investigations continue, however, into possible off-label uses of methocarbamol for numerous other painful conditions. Methocarbamol has also historically been used in perioperative care for patients with hip and knee replacements.


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"Methocarbamol. StatPearls."
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bullet Fudin, J. and Raouf, M. (2017).
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bullet Vandergriendt, C. (2019).
"Is Methocarbamol a Narcotic? 11 FAQs About Dosage, Addiction, and More. Healthline."
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bullet Gahr, M. et. al. (2014).
"Abuse Liability of Centrally Acting Non-Opioid Analgesics and Muscle Relaxants – A Brief Update Based on a Comparison of Pharmacovigilance Data and Evidence from the Literature. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology."
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