April 30, 2024

Is Meloxicam Addictive?

image representing meloxicam

Meloxicam is a generic NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that’s commonly marketed as Mobic. The medication is used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s sometimes prescribed as an alternative to opioids to treat pain.

So, is meloxicam addictive?

Meloxicam Addictive Potential

While meloxicam, like other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, carries certain risks including serious side effects, it does not induce a euphoric high that might contribute to addiction or substance misuse.

That said, there have been instances of meloxicam misuse because it is often mistaken for an opioid due to its status as a prescription pain reliever. This misunderstanding can be particularly risky for individuals grappling with opioid use disorder who may incorrectly believe meloxicam to be an opioid, triggering abuse.

Beyond this, meloxicam might be involved in patterns of polysubstance use, such as when individuals seeking to alleviate hangover symptoms from excessive alcohol consumption use large doses of meloxicam. This behavior can lead to more frequent binge drinking episodes by minimizing the immediate hangover effects. However, combining NSAIDs like meloxicam with alcohol poses a significant risk of causing severe gastrointestinal issues, including ulcers or internal bleeding.

Additionally, individuals prescribed NSAIDs who smoke may face an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Tobacco use is especially prevalent among those with substance use disorders or mental health conditions, with adults facing these challenges more likely to smoke than those without such disorders.

A woman sitting on the bed in distress, depicting what is meloxicam used for

Risks of Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol

Combining meloxicam with alcohol heightens the risk of several health issues, such as:

  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis)
  • Gout flare-ups
  • Internal bleeding
  • Increased chances of heart attack and stroke

Stomach inflammation (gastritis)

Both meloxicam and alcohol are known to increase the risk of gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. This risk is magnified when they are used in conjunction, potentially leading to:

  • Ulcers
  • Long-term stomach damage
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Stomach cancer

Gout flare-ups

Those taking meloxicam to manage gout should keep in mind that alcohol can trigger gout flare-ups. The combination of alcohol and meloxicam, especially during a gout attack, can lead to severe joint pain, swelling, and redness.

Internal bleeding

Medical professionals caution against consuming alcohol while on meloxicam because it amplifies the risk of bleeding. While the exact mechanism by which NSAIDs increase this risk is not fully understood, many studies have linked their use to internal bleeding incidents. FDA has issued a black box warning for prescription NSAIDs, including meloxicam. Alcohol consumption further escalates this risk by impairing the body’s ability to produce platelets, essential for blood clotting. Chronic alcohol use can lead to the production of dysfunctional platelets, increasing the likelihood of continuous internal bleeding, sometimes without any external signs.

Increased chances of heart attack and stroke

FDA’s black box warning for NSAIDs also covers the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Symptoms to watch for include chest pain, difficulty breathing, pain in the left arm or shoulder, extreme fatigue (particularly in women), nausea (in women), weakness on one side of the body, vision changes, and slurred speech. Excessive alcohol use can cause heart-related issues, including cardiomyopathy, which may lead to heart failure.

Risks of Mixing Meloxicam and Other Drugs

While effective for its intended purposes, meloxicam can interact negatively with other medications, potentially leading to increased risks of side effects or diminished effectiveness of treatment.

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants): Medications like warfarin are prescribed to prevent blood clots, but when taken with meloxicam, the risk of bleeding significantly increases. This combination should be monitored closely by healthcare providers.
  • Other NSAIDs: Using meloxicam in conjunction with other NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen elevates the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. People are generally advised to avoid taking multiple NSAIDs simultaneously.
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): SSRIs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), are used to treat depression and anxiety. Combining SSRIs with meloxicam can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Diuretics: Meloxicam can reduce the effectiveness of diuretics, which are often prescribed to manage high blood pressure and edema. This interaction can lead to the worsening of heart or kidney complications.
  • Blood pressure medications: ACE inhibitors, ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers), and beta-blockers can have their effectiveness reduced when taken with meloxicam, potentially leading to uncontrolled blood pressure.
  • Lithium: Meloxicam can increase the levels of lithium in the blood to toxic levels, requiring careful monitoring of lithium levels in patients who need both medications.

While meloxicam itself does not produce euphoria that leads to abuse, it is sometimes misused in conjunction with substances that do, especially among those with a history of substance use disorders.

  • Alcohol: As outlined above, combining meloxicam with alcohol significantly increases the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding, liver stress, and other harmful effects. This combination is unfortunately common among individuals attempting to enhance the euphoric effects of alcohol or reduce hangover symptoms.
  • Prescription opioids and benzos: Some people may misuse meloxicam alongside opioids or benzodiazepines, mistakenly believing that it will enhance the pain-relieving or sedative effects of these drugs. This can lead to dangerous side effects, including increased risk of overdose, respiratory depression, and profound sedation.
  • Stimulants: There’s also a risk involved when meloxicam is used with stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine as individuals might attempt to offset the side effects of stimulant abuse, such as pain or inflammation from prolonged physical activity. This combination can be particularly strenuous on the heart and cardiovascular system.

Meloxicam FAQs

What Is meloxicam used for?

Meloxicam is a prescription drug that’s mainly used to relieve pain, inflammation, and stiffness caused by conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It belongs to a class of drugs known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

What are the worst side effects of meloxicam?

The most severe meloxicam side effects include an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney problems, and severe allergic reactions. These side effects are rare but can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Why do people mix meloxicam with other substances?

People might mix meloxicam with other substances to enhance pain relief or mitigate side effects. This can be dangerous, though, potentially triggering gastrointestinal bleeding or kidney damage.

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Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you’ve been struggling with the misuse of any prescription drugs, we can help you initiate sustained recovery at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.

Begin your recovery the right way with our supervised prescription drug detox. A tapered reduction in dosage can streamline the intensity of withdrawal from prescription medications, addressing the issue of physical dependence, and preparing you for ongoing inpatient treatment at one of our rehab centers in Newport Beach or Long Beach, California.

All prescription drug addictions are unique, so all treatment programs at Gratitude Lodge reflect this. Expect to access a blend of the following therapies:

Call our friendly recovery team today to get started at 800-994-2184.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

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