Soma Effects, Risks, and Treatment
In This Article
What Is Soma?
Soma is the brand name for the drug carisoprodol. It's a skeletal muscle relaxant. The drug is approved by the FDA to treat acute musculoskeletal pain.1
The medication is usually prescribed for pain relief from muscle injuries like:
- Muscle spasms
Soma should only be used in the short-term, up to 2 to 3 weeks.3 This is due to its habit-forming properties.
It's a centrally acting muscle relaxer. The drug works by acting on the central nervous system (CNS) rather than on the muscles themselves.
Although many people don't understand its mechanism of action, Soma also has sedative effects. This is why it has the potential for abuse.
Soma is available commercially as a white tablet. The full effects are usually felt within 30 minutes of taking it. They last for 4 to 6 hours.
Despite its frequent abuse and dangerous side effects, Soma is a Schedule IV controlled substance in the U.S. This means it has low abuse potential and risk of dependence.
Side Effects of Soma
Soma has both anxiolytic and sedative effects. The most common side effects are:
- Vertigo (spinning, off-balance sensation)
- Syncope (fainting spells)
- Ataxia (difficulty walking)
Other significant Soma side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Drops in blood pressure
- Facial flushing
- Seizures (especially with overdose)
- Low blood counts
Is Soma Dangerous?
Soma can cause significant sedation. This results in physical and mental impairment.
These effects interfere with tasks requiring concentration. For example, driving. Soma use has been associated with motor vehicle accidents.
Many users combine Soma with alcohol and other drugs to achieve a euphoric high.
The following often get mixed with Soma due to their sedating effects:
- Hydrocodone (Lortab, Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
These drugs have additive effects. This means that your chance of serious side effects and overdose increases significantly when combining substances.
Teen Soma Abuse
Prescription drug use is a concern among teenagers. They are easier to access and are perceived as less dangerous than illegal drugs.
If you have prescription drugs, always lock them away and check the amounts used.
The best way to prevent drug use in teenagers is to discuss the dangers. Clearly explain that prescription drugs aren't safe just because they are legal and come from a doctor.
Tell your teenager that drugs like soma are especially dangerous when:
- Not taken as prescribed
- Taken with alcohol or other drugs
- Ingested via alternate methods such as injection
Soma has a risk for addiction. People with a history of substance addiction should seek professional medical advice before taking Soma.
Soma Drug Interactions
Soma is a CNS depressant. It can worsen the sedation and impairment from other CNS depressants like:
CYP2C19 inhibitors (like omeprazole and fluvoxamine) and CYP2C19 inducers (like St. John's Wort and rifampin) can change the way Soma works. Aspirin may also interact with carisoprodol.
Combining Soma with other CNS depressants is especially dangerous. Consult your healthcare provider for more information on how Soma may interact with other medications.
Soma overdose produces symptoms like:
- Severe gait impairment
- Agitation and violent outbursts
- Excessive sedation
More severe overdoses can cause suppression of breathing, followed by coma and death.
Additionally, combining Soma with other CNS depressants can increase the risk of overdose. The overlap of overdose symptoms with other medications can make diagnosis difficult.
This is a particular concern because Soma is commonly abused to enhance the effects of other CNS depressants, particularly opioids and benzodiazepines.
Is Soma Addictive?
Yes. soma has addictive properties.
Long-term Soma abuse can lead to addiction and dependence.
Even though it's a Schedule IV controlled substance, it's not uncommon for people to use the drug recreationally and become addicted.
Repeated use of Soma can produce two of the hallmark symptoms of addiction, including:
- Tolerance: When increasingly higher doses are required to obtain the same effects.
- Withdrawal: When stopping the medication produces uncomfortable symptoms. For example, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, depression, and seizures.
Soma Addiction Symptoms
Soma abuse occurs when people use the drug:
- Without a prescription
- For reasons other than its intended use
- In higher doses than prescribed
Soma addiction is defined as a compulsive desire or need to continue taking the drug. It occurs despite the negative consequences that may arise.
Soma withdrawal occurs when someone who has developed a physical dependence on the drug stops using it suddenly.
Common symptoms of carisoprodol withdrawal include:
- Muscle twitching
More severe withdrawal symptoms include tachycardia and ataxia. Tachycardia is a dangerous increase in heart rate. Ataxia results in the loss of muscle coordination.
Soma Addiction Treatment
If you have become addicted to Soma, your doctor will direct you to start tapering the dosage.
Tapering off Soma rather than 'quitting cold turkey' helps avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. It takes at least a week.
Soma addiction most often begins with a medical issue that turns into physical dependence as the body develops a tolerance to the drug. They may require larger doses to feel the same effects.
There are currently no FDA-approved medications to treat Soma addiction. Talk therapy is the primary treatment for this addiction.
The following therapies may also be useful:
- Individual therapy
- Support groups
- Self-help groups
- Behavioral therapy
Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Carisoprodol.”
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Drug Scheduling.”
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Highlights of Prescribing Information: Soma (carisoprodol).”
- Gonzalez, Lorie A et al. “Abuse Potential of Soma: the GABA(A) Receptor as a Target.” Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, vol. 1,4 : 180-186
- Conermann T, Christian D. Carisoprodol. [Updated 2021 Jul 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
- Gray, Kevin M, and Lindsay M Squeglia. “Research Review: What have we learned about adolescent substance use?.” Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines vol. 59,6 : 618-627