Soma is a brand of carisoprodol, a drug related to meprobamate, and is used as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever. Soma is recommended for acute pain from injuries and musculoskeletal conditions in conjunction with physical therapy and rest. The drug produces a sedative effect by interfering with pain signals being sent to the brain from the central nervous system.
Soma is rarely prescribed for medicinal purposes because it is considered to be a habit-forming drug. Soma is intended for short-term use and should only be taken by the patient as prescribed. Taking Soma more often or for longer periods of time than intended may cause dependence; individuals who take more Soma than as prescribed may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication. Patients should gradually decrease the amount of the medication they self-administer before ending use and should never stop taking the medication suddenly.
Approximately 11 million prescriptions for carisoprodol were dispensed to Americans in 2008. According to the DEA, carisoprodol remains one of the most commonly diverted drugs in the U.S., and abuse and overdose has been on the rise in recent years. Carisoprodol is one of the most common legal drugs attributed to prescription overdose deaths in the U.S.
Soma abuse has contributed not only to the nation’s prescription drug addiction epidemic, but has also caused thousands of unintentional overdose deaths per year. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 3,600 cases of carisoprodol overdose deaths occurred in 2007. In states plagued by illegal pill mills — particularly Florida, Texas, and Louisiana — carisoprodol trafficking and abuse has surpassed opioid trafficking and abuse rates.