Soma is the brand name of a generic prescription drug called carisoprodol. Soma, or carisoprodol, has long been prescribed to patients as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever, but in recent decades it’s come under scrutiny. There are increasing concerns that Soma on its own has the potential for abuse and addiction. There’s also a growing number of people who intentionally mix Soma and other drugs, leading to emergency room visits and fatal overdoses.
Article at a Glance:
- Soma has been prescribed as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever.
- Soma is the brand name of a drug called carisoprodol.
- Soma can lead to physical dependence and cause withdrawal symptoms.
- The standard dosage of Soma is 350 mg, up to three times per day.
- Soma overdoses can occur due to combining this medication with other drugs or alcohol.
A common question people have is “what are Soma carisoprodol tablets used for?” Soma or carisoprodol tablets are intended only as a short-term, acute treatment option. Along with relaxing muscles, Soma can also reduce pain resulting from muscle spasm. The brand name Soma was originally approved for prescription use by the FDA in 2007, but the generic carisoprodol has been used since the late 1950s. Soma is specifically classified as a skeletal muscle relaxant, none of which are approved by the FDA for long-term use.
The longest a person should be prescribed Soma, according to guidelines, is two to three weeks. Using Soma for longer than two to three weeks significantly increases the risk of abuse, addiction and physical dependence. Carisoprodol is the only muscle relaxant classified as a controlled substance, which indicates its abuse potential. Because it is classified as a Class IV controlled substance, there has been guidance issued to physicians about how it should be prescribed. Soma shouldn’t be prescribed until other options have been tried first. These options can include activities like yoga or stretching as well as over-the-counter pain relievers. Soma should be prescribed only if these options are ineffective or unavailable to the patient. One example where this might be the case is when someone has liver or kidney problems that prevents them from taking OTC pain medicines such as acetaminophen.
When a doctor does prescribe a muscle relaxant like Soma, patients are advised to be aware of possible side effects. Some of the common side effects can include dizziness, nausea, coordination problems and sedation. These side effects can be particularly profound in people over the age of 65. If a patient continues to have symptoms for more than three weeks after taking Soma, they are advised to speak with their doctor. They may need a different type of treatment altogether.
Soma is a drug that can lead to physical dependence, even in people who aren’t addicted. Addiction is a psychological issue, while dependence is physical. A user’s body can become tolerant to Soma and accustomed to its presence. When a person suddenly stops taking Soma, they may have withdrawal symptoms — a common side effect of Soma, even when it’s taken as instructed by a physician. Due to the potential for withdrawal symptoms, many physicians will put patients on a schedule to slowly taper their dosage of Soma.
The standard Soma dosage is 350 mg, which, depending on the situation, may be taken up to three times a day. At this dosage, a person isn’t likely to experience euphoria or a high. At most, someone who’s particularly sensitive to medications or just started Soma may have a mild sense of euphoria or dysphoria. The more significant effects are felt with Soma is taken at high doses or is combined with other substances.
In recent years, it’s become common for people to intentionally combine Soma with other substances as a way to feel high and increase the effects of each. For example, Soma may be taken with opioids like codeine or oxycodone. Side effects of mixing Soma with opioids include euphoria and sedation. Other combinations that are well-known among some recreational Soma users are pairings that include a benzodiazepine like Xanax or other anti-anxiety medications. Soma may also be combined with alcohol. Sometimes it’s used recreationally with more than one other substance.
These substance combinations are the primary reason Soma overdoses occur. When a central nervous system depressant like Soma is combined with something else that has a similar effect, it can cause respiratory depression, which may ultimately be fatal. Another risk of combining carisoprodol or Soma and other drugs is aspiration during unconsciousness. Soma is often described as a GABAergic drug, meaning it affects levels of GABA in the brain. When there is too much GABA present in the brain, the CNS is too depressed to function properly. Along with extreme sedation or loss of consciousness, other signs of a carisoprodol or SOMA overdose include agitation, confusion, appearing intoxicated or violent behavior.
For people whose physician may be considering a Soma prescription, it is essential to discuss a full medical history. Patients should also inform their physician of any other prescription medications and recreational drugs or substances they use to avoid the dangerous or deadly risks that may occur while using Soma.
If you’re struggling with the use of Soma or other drugs, prescription or otherwise, we can help at The Recovery Village. We can talk to you about your options regarding a loved one who has a substance abuse issue to help you decide on the best course of action.
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.