The medical field long believed that Soma (carisoprodol) wasn’t an addictive drug.
Starting in 1959, Wallace Laboratories sold Soma as a prescription muscle relaxer. Unfortunately, many people discovered from its use that Soma’s more akin to a sedative, tranquilizer, and anxiolytic. The effect created a high, which was enough to cause people to get addicted to Soma.
It is important for individuals to know more about how Soma works, why it is addictive, and the risks of taking Soma long-term.
Soma Therapeutic Usage
Doctors prescribe Soma to treat muscle sprains, spasms, and strains. Patients should only use the medication for up to three weeks. It can be taken with and without medication. Physicians should combine Soma with physical therapy, heat/ice, and rest. While under the influence of this medication, a person should not operate a vehicle. Due to the sedative effects, this can cause potentially fatal car accidents.
How Often Do People Abuse Soma?
According to a literature review in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, “As of 2000, the Drug Abuse Warning Network identified carisoprodol as the 20th most abused drug, ranking higher than oxycodone, methadone, and LSD.” Considering the drug’s abuse ranking, it is shocking that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not classify the medication as controlled until 2011.
It is important to note here that addiction is not the same as abuse. The National Library of Medicine defines prescription drug abuse as using medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. This can include taking medication more frequently, at higher doses, in a different consumption method, or for a different purpose
People can look at Soma abuse as an indicator of future addiction, though.
The Impact of Soma on the Brain
As discussed in the literature review, Soma’s parent drug — meprobamate — is classified as an anxiolytic. Soma impacts the central nervous system (CNS), rather than affecting the muscles. It blocks the pain signals between the spinal cord and the neurons. The medication possesses sedative and depressant effects. It has a half-life of two hours; however, the metabolites Soma creates stay in the body for approximately four days. When looking at the impact on the brain, Soma is most similar to barbiturates.
Soma Polysubstance Drug Abuse
Most frequently, Soma is abused with other substances to increase the effects. On its own, Soma interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters and increases dopamine production. When someone abuses Soma in conjunction with other substances, their dopamine levels become exponential. This creates the “high” that people with substance use disorder (SUD) seek. It also intensifies side effects.
It is so common for people to combine Soma and other substances that people created slang names for drug combinations. A Las Vegas Cocktail includes Soma and Vicodin. Soma and codeine make up a Soma Coma. When combined with CNS depressants like alcohol, Soma causes the following symptoms:
- Poor judgment
- Bad balance
- Blurred vision
- Urinary incontinence
- Memory blackouts
- Low blood pressure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Intense dizziness
- Inability to stay awake
- Slowed heart rate
- Slowed breathing
The practice of combining Soma with other substances can provide the first indication of addiction. This includes prescription drugs as well. If a medical provider did not supply Soma with knowledge of the patient’s other medications, the prescriptions could cause a desired recreational interaction. Patients could withhold prescription information while “doctor shopping” for this purpose.
Otherwise, a person may illegally purchase Soma to interact with their legally obtained prescriptions. All these circumstances can be dangerous to a person’s health.
Signs of Soma Addiction
Soma addiction looks similar to other types of addiction. People should watch for the following signs:
- Taking a higher dose than prescribes
- Severe mood swings and anger
- Changes in sleep
- Low energy levels
- Borrowing pills from others
- Doctor shopping to obtain more pills
- Forging prescriptions
- Purchasing pills illegally
When seeking treatment for Soma addiction, individuals go through acute withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal may cause individuals immense discomfort. Soma withdrawal causes these effects:
- Muscle twitching and spasms
- Loss of control over movements
On its own, Soma withdrawal will not typically cause lethal symptoms. If a person is taking it in conjunction with other medications, drugs, or alcohol, they will encounter polysubstance withdrawal symptoms. The substances involved will determine the exact withdrawal experience. Oftentimes, doctors cannot even predict how it will go.
In either circumstance, a person should enter a detox facility when treating Soma addiction. The detox facility will likely taper a person off the medication by decreasing the dose over time. This causes fewer withdrawal symptoms than going off of Soma cold turkey.
Detoxing by yourself should never be done. It’s dangerous and much less likely to succeed.
The detox center will also offer emotional and mental support. The therapists will help a person address the underlying causes of Soma addiction.
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Soma is sold as a prescription muscle relaxer that acts more like a barbiturate. The sedative effects can provide relaxation, sleep, and calmness. Unfortunately, Soma is abused in conjunction with other substances to boost their effects. This provides a risk for addiction. This article offered multiple signs of addiction to watch for. If you or your loved one experiences Soma addiction, it’s best to enter into a detox program.
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