Soma Alternatives: What Drugs Are Similar to Soma?

Last Updated: June 23, 2024

David Levin Reviewed by David Levin
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Carisoprodol, known by its brand name Soma, is a prescription-only medication used to ease discomfort associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions.

While often marketed as a muscle relaxant, carisoprodol belongs to the tranquilizer class of medications, with its primary metabolite meprobamate chemically related to benzodiazepines. Despite its efficacy, carisoprodol’s significant risk for potential abuse and dependence may drive doctors to explore alternatives.

Continue reading to learn about the multiple soma alternatives, their applications, and their side effects for safer muscle pain management.

Soma Overview

Carisoprodol, marketed under the brand name Soma, is an FDA-approved medication for muscle spasms and discomfort resulting from injuries, strains, and other musculoskeletal conditions. It is often prescribed in conjunction with rest, physical therapy, and painkillers.

The mechanism of action of soma is not fully understood, but it is believed to work by interrupting neuronal communication within the reticular formation and spinal cord, altering pain perception, and causing muscle relaxation. Soma is metabolized into meprobamate, which has properties similar to benzodiazepines, contributing to its sedative effects.

It is available in tablet form, typically in 250 mg and 350 mg strengths. The recommended dosage is 250-350 mg, taken three times daily and at bedtime. Due to its potential for dependence and abuse, the FDA advises limiting the use of Soma to short-term treatment to a maximum of two to three weeks.

Soma Alternatives: Carisoprodol Similar Drugs

Originally, soma wasn’t considered addictive. However, after reports of misuse and abuse, in 2012, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classified carisoprodol as a Schedule IV controlled substance at the US federal level, prompting patients and doctors to seek alternatives that can provide similar therapeutic benefits, particularly for patients with a history of substance abuse.

Below, we explore some common alternatives to Soma that may be effective for you.

Soma vs. Flexeril

A common alternative to soma is Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine). Comparing soma vs cyclobenzaprine is interesting because these medications are very similar. They both target muscle spasms and pain, helping complement physical therapy and rest.

Both medications require a prescription, come in oral form (either tablets or capsules) and are not sold over-the-counter in the USA.

Check the following chart for carisoprodol vs flexeril comparison:

Feature Soma (Carisoprodol) Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine)
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain relief Muscle spasm relief
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Fibromyalgia
Mechanism of Action Interrupts neuronal communication Reduces motor activity at the brain stem
Time to Effect Rapid onset within 30 minutes Within 30 minutes to 1 hour
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $10 for 3 tablets, 10mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Dizziness, drowsiness, headache Drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, arrhythmias, seizures
Risk of Dependence High Low
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Hyperthyroidism, recent myocardial infarction

Choosing between cyclobenzaprine vs soma involves considering underlying health issues or a history of substance abuse. Take into consideration that:

  • Cyclobenzaprine has a lower risk of abuse and dependence compared to Soma.
  • Cyclobenzaprine is not suitable for patients with hyperthyroidism, myocardial infarction, heart arrhythmias.
  • Flexeril belongs to pregnancy category B, with no evidence of impaired fertility in rats, mice and rabbits.
  • Carisoprodol falls under pregnancy Category C, indicating it potentially carries more risks to a fetus.

Is Soma Stronger than Flexeril?

Yes, soma can be stronger. Soma produces rapid muscle relaxation within 30 minutes, and it is considered strong due to its metabolite, meprobamate, which has properties similar to benzodiazepines. However, Soma has a high potential for abuse and dependence.

Flexeril generally takes about an hour to start working and its lower abuse potential makes it a safer option for patients with a history of substance abuse. Even though Flexeril’s muscle relaxant effects are milder, it can be a preferable option for many patients.

Carisoprodol vs Tramadol

When considering muscle relaxants and pain relievers, carisoprodol (soma) and tramadol (Ultram) are two commonly discussed medications.

Let’s review them in depth:

Feature Carisoprodol (Soma) Tramadol (Ultram)
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain Moderate to moderately severe pain
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Chronic pain, restless legs syndrome
Mechanism of Action Interruption of neuronal communication, metabolized to meprobamate Binds to mu-opioid receptors, inhibits reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin
Time to Effect Within 30 minutes ~1 hour
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $10 for 15 tablets, 50 mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Dizziness, drowsiness, headache Dizziness, nausea, constipation
Risk of Dependence High Moderate
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Severe respiratory depression, acute or severe bronchial asthma, concurrent use of MAO inhibitors

Choosing between carisoprodol vs tramadol depends on your individual needs and medical history. It’s important to consult with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you.

Take into consideration that:

  • Tramadol has a lower risk compared to traditional opioids but is still present.
  • Tramadol can lower the seizure threshold, particularly at higher doses or with other medications.
  • Tramadol should only be prescribed if it will treat the condition better than Carisoprodol.
  • Soma’s abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms; tapering off is recommended.

Baclofen vs Soma

Baclofen is a muscle relaxant primarily used to treat spasticity, particularly in conditions like multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. It has a lower potential for abuse compared to Soma but can cause significant drowsiness and other side effects.

Check the following chart for Soma vs baclofen comparison:

Feature Carisoprodol (Soma) Baclofen
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain Spasticity due to MS, spinal cord injuries
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Hiccups, trigeminal neuralgia
Mechanism of Action Interruption of neuronal communication, metabolized to meprobamate Inhibits spinal reflexes, GABA_B agonist
Time to Effect Within 30 minutes 1-2 hours
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $11 for 30 tablets, 10 mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Dizziness, drowsiness, headache Drowsiness, dizziness, weakness
Risk of Dependence High Low to moderate
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Severe renal impairment, hypersensitivity

When choosing between soma vs baclofen, consider the following

  • Baclofen and soma abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms; tapering off is recommended.
  • Both of the drugs are indicated for spasms caused by different health conditions.
  • Baclofen is a first-line treatment for pain and muscle rigidity caused by multiple sclerosis.
  • Soma’s risk of dependence makes it a second-line treatment.

Soma vs Valium

Comparing Valium and soma can be challenging as they belong to different drug categories. Valium falls under benzodiazepines.

Though both medications can relax muscles, Valium (diazepam) is considered more of a secondary effect rather than its primary function. Valium has a well-documented potential for abuse and dependence, particularly with long-term use.

Let’s check them together:

Feature Soma (Carisoprodol) Valium (Diazepam)
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain Anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Alcohol withdrawal syndrome, insomnia
Mechanism of Action Interruption of neuronal communication, metabolized to meprobamate Enhances the effect of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
Time to Effect Within 30 minutes Within 15 minutes to 1 hour
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $10 for 4 tablets, 5 mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Dizziness, drowsiness, headache Drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue
Risk of Dependence High High
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Severe respiratory insufficiency, acute narrow-angle glaucoma, myasthenia gravis

When choosing between Valium and soma, consider the following

  • Valium side effects can be more significant than soma.
  • Both carry significant risks of dependence and tolerance.
  • Valium is also effective for anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizure control.
  • Valium can lead to accumulation and prolonged effects, especially in older adults.
  • Valium can cause severe withdrawal symptoms; tapering off is recommended.

Methocarbamol vs Soma

Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is a muscle relaxant to relieve muscle spasms and pain. It reduces muscle spasms by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). Compared to Soma, methocarbamol is less likely to cause sedation and dependence, making it a safer option for some patients.

Check the following chart for Robaxin vs soma comparison:

Feature Carisoprodol (Soma) Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain Muscle spasms and pain
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Tetanus
Mechanism of Action Interruption of neuronal communication, metabolized to meprobamate CNS depression
Time to Effect Within 30 minutes Within 30 minutes
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $12 for 18 tablets, 500 mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Drowsiness, dizziness, headache Dizziness, drowsiness, headache
Risk of Dependence High Low to moderate
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Severe renal impairment, hypersensitivity

Choosing between Soma vs Methocarbamol depends on your individual needs and medical history.

Take into consideration that:

  • Both have teratogenic effects and belong to pregnancy category C. Use in pregnancy is not recommended.
  • Carisoprodol is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Robaxin is not a controlled drug.
  • Methocarbamol has less risk of dependence compared to Soma.
  • Methocarbamol side effects cause less sedation, making it more suitable for daytime use.
  • Use Robaxin with caution in patients with severe renal impairment.

Soma vs Tizanidine

Muscle relaxants, Soma (carisoprodol) and Tizanidine (Zanaflex), are two frequently prescribed medications.

Tizanidine is a muscle relaxant used to treat muscle spasticity, often related to conditions like multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. Tizanidine is known for causing significant drowsiness and has a lower potential for abuse compared to Soma.

Let’s check them together:

Feature Soma (Carisoprodol) Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
FDA-Approved Uses Acute musculoskeletal pain Muscle spasticity
Off-Label Uses Not commonly used off-label Chronic headaches, back pain
Mechanism of Action Interruption of neuronal communication, metabolized to meprobamate Alpha-2 adrenergic agonist, inhibits motor neurons
Time to Effect Within 30 minutes 1 – 2 hours
Cost Around $11 for 10 tablets, 350 mg (for the generic version) Around $17 for 20 tablets, 4 mg (for the generic version)
Common Side Effects Dizziness, drowsiness, headache Drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness
Risk of Dependence High Low to moderate
Contraindications History of drug abuse, acute intermittent porphyria Severe liver impairment, concurrent use with ciprofloxacin or fluvoxamine

When choosing between tizanidine vs soma, consider the following:

  • Tizanidine and soma can cause significant drowsiness; night intake is recommended.
  • Tizanidine side effects cause low blood pressure; patients should be monitored for hypotensive symptoms.
  • Tizanidine requires regular liver function tests due to potential hepatotoxicity.
  • Soma pill effects last longer. Zanaflex has lower pain relief effectiveness.
  • Zanaflex’s effects take longer to work.

Other Carisoprodol Alternatives

If you need a different soma alternative due to side effects, lack of efficacy or personal preference, you can consult with your doctor about your options and make the best decision for you.

Some other drugs similar to soma are:

  • Orphenadrine (Norflex)
  • Chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte)
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • Dantrolene (Dantrium)

Soma Alternatives − Final Thoughts

Finding the right alternative to soma can be challenging but necessary due to the potential for drug abuse and dependence.

Exploring various options, such as those outlined here, can effectively relieve muscle spasms and pain while addressing individual needs and health profiles. Each alternative offers distinct benefits and drawbacks, from varying side effect profiles to differing mechanisms of action and potential risks of dependence.

Working closely with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable medication for your specific condition is crucial. If you or someone you know is struggling with soma addiction or any other medicines, seek professional addiction treatment to ensure safe and effective recovery.

People Also Ask

What is the closest muscle relaxer to Soma?

Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is often considered the closest alternative to Soma, providing similar muscle relaxation and pain relief effects with a lower potential for abuse.

What is soma used for?

Soma (Carisoprodol) is a muscle relaxant used to relieve discomfort associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions.

Is soma a narcotic?

No, Soma is not classified as a narcotic, but it has the potential for abuse and dependence similar to narcotics.

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Retrieved on June 21, 2024.

Published on: June 7th, 2019

Updated on: June 23rd, 2024

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