What Is Soma? Carisoprodol Use, Abuse, And Addiction

Last Updated: July 6, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

The use of Soma pills is relatively common among people who experience muscle pain and related symptoms. Soma tablets can provide an effective alleviation of these symptoms, but continued use of the drug can cause a person to develop a tolerance. In this case, as well as when a person decides to use a soma pain pill for recreational purposes, addiction is possible. Addiction and dependence on the drug can lead to abuse, which can cause a person to take too much of the medication. In turn, this can lead to many potential side-effects and harmful events in the patient’s body.

What Is The Drug Soma?

Soma is a type of prescription drug that physicians tend to provide to patients who complain about muscle spasms, muscle pain, and related symptoms. For those asking if Carisoprodol is the same as soma – the answer is yes. Soma is essentially a trade or brand name for the medication known as Carisoprodol. Once administered, many people tend to experience a sedative side-effect caused by Soma compounds that are found inside the drug. Some would also describe this sedative side-effect as a euphoria.

Soma Use And Abuse Key Statistics

Soma, along with many other prescription drugs, is often abused by the general population. There are various reasons why people tend to abuse these drugs. In some cases, the patient finds that the dose they were prescribed does not work as effectively anymore. In other cases, the individual craves the sedative or euphoric side-effects that sometimes occur with the use of certain medications.
The following essential statistics are reported regarding the use of Soma among the American population:

  • An estimated 5.1% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 abused prescription painkillers in the year 2015. Looking at a broader category, there was a reported 2.40% of the population who abused prescription pain killers among those aged 12 years or older.
  • An estimated 1.40% of those individuals over the age of 12, abuses prescription sedative medication at least on one occasion every month.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than two million individuals in the United States who are older than 12 years of age abused Soma at least once in the past.

Brand, Generic, and Street Names

Soma pain killers is a brand name prescription drug. While this is the most common brand name that patients are provided with when they complain about muscle pain, there are other names by which the medication is also known.

A Carisoprodol pill is essentially the generic or “actual” name for the Soma drug. There are a couple of countries that also sell medicine under the name “Carisoma.”

This has led to several “street names” for the drugs being created. Ds and Dance are the most common street names used for Soma.

There are also street names used to describe a specific combination of prescription medication that includes Soma. These include:

  • Las Vegas Cocktail – this is the street name for a combination of Vicodin and Soma
  • Soma Coma – the street name that refers to the combination of codeine and Soma

Mechanisms Of Action

Is Soma a narcotic? Considering the potential for addiction presented by the medication, it is essential to find how the active chemicals in these pills work.

The Carisoprodol drug is classified as a centrally acting muscle relaxant. While it is known that the medication is effective at producing a reduction in levels of muscle pain that a patient may be experiencing, medical experts do not seem to have a 100% accurate explanation on how exactly the drug works to produce these effects. The most common suggestion is that the active Soma compounds alter the way that nerves communicate with some regions of the human brain. In turn, this can help to reduce pain sensations.

human brain processes

How Is Soma Used?

The medication comes in the form of a tablet that is taken orally. A typical prescription strength would be a Carisoprodol 350 mg tablet, but the dosage would depend on the patient that is being treated.

FDA-Approved Usage

The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has officially approved the use of Carisoprodol in patients who suffer from muscle pain and muscle spasms. The FDA has not provided approval for any other purposes for the particular drug. It is important to note that careful consideration needs to be practiced by the physician providing the prescription, and only short-term use of the drug is advised. Longer term use leads to a higher risk of dependence, as well as an increase in the Soma withdrawal symptoms that may occur when the patient stops using the drug.

Off-Label Usage

Doctors tend to only prescribe the drug to individuals who are experiencing musculoskeletal pain. There are no reported off-label uses that are considered appropriate for this particular medication.

Recreational Usage

Some people may opt for the use of Soma medicine for recreational purposes. This is usually due to the euphoric effect that they would experience, imposed by the sedative side-effect that the drug is known to cause.  People may experiment with different administration methods, including snorting soma.

Soma During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Using Soma while pregnant is not advised. This is especially important during the first three months of pregnancy, as the unborn baby may be harmed by the physiological effects that the medicine has in the human body, along with the risk that the active chemicals of the drug may reach the developing fetus. From month three to six, some women may benefit from the use of this drug to reduce musculoskeletal pain.

Similarly, Soma and breastfeeding is also not an advised combination. It has been found that using Soma while breastfeeding may cause some of the active chemicals to leak into the woman’s breast milk. This could affect the baby that is being breastfed.

Is Soma Addictive?

Soma pain medication was once considered a safe option for the treatment of muscle-related pain, but many reports have recently surfaced regarding the high addictive risk of the chemicals found in the drug.

Physical Addiction

When a person builds up a tolerance to the drug, it may no longer function as it used to. In turn, physical addiction symptoms may include the presence of pain after the individual has taken their regular dose of the medication. This is often what causes the person to increase their dosage without consulting with a doctor first. Some individuals may take advantage of Soma drug interactions to improve the euphoria and other side-effects that are causing them to abuse the medication.

Psychological Addiction

The side-effects that Soma pain med tend to cause is often what causes a person to develop a psychological addiction to the drug. The person experiences a sedative side-effect that feels like euphoria for many people. Once the effect has gone away, the person may want to take another dose of the drug to experience these side-effects again.

nervous man craving medication

Short And Long Term Effects Of Soma Abuse

What are the side effects of Soma addiction? When an addiction develops, a person is likely to take more of the drug that they are advised to – this can cause a higher risk of severe side-effects. Additionally, long-term use of the drug is generally not considered safe.


There are specific physical effects to look for when it comes to Soma abuse and addiction. Many people will start to make frequent appointments often at different physicians to get their hands on multiple prescriptions. These prescriptions are then distributed to various pharmacies. The person may also experience more severe physical side-effects like a rapid heart rate and a higher risk of seizures.


Individuals who are addicted to Soma may be irritable and also experience agitation. Depression is also a possible effect of Soma abuse, along with symptoms of insomnia. A lot of people with this particular problem also experience impairment in their cognitive function.


When a person develops a dependence on the drug, they may start to withdraw from the social activities that once brought them joy. The individual may also begin to remove from family and friends, and instead, prefer to isolate themselves.

Treating Soma Addiction

The treatment of addiction to Carisoprodol drug depends on how severe the patient’s condition is and how long they have been taking the medication.

Does Soma show up on a drug test? While the answer is generally no, it is essential to note that the drug may still be active in a person’s body for some time after they stopped using it. As the chemicals leave the individual’s body, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Professional assistance at rehabilitation facility can help the patient manage these withdrawal symptoms and effectively overcome their addiction.

Counseling is often utilized as a method to assist in the treatment of an addiction to prescription drugs Soma, as well as similar pain killers. Preventative steps can also be taken when the person first starts to show signs of dependence. Soma vs. Flexeril may be compared, for example. In such a case, when a person builds up a Soma tolerance, they do not have to increase the dosage of the drug to experience a relief of their symptoms. Instead, the person turns to another drug at a low dose that they do not have a tolerance to.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/national-survey-drug-use-health
  2. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs10/10913/10913p.pdf

Published on: June 7th, 2019

Updated on: July 6th, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


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