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Soma Vs Xanax- Understanding Their Differences & Similarities

Soma Vs Xanax- Understanding Their Differences & Similarities


Soma vs Xanax comparative study suggests that both Soma and Xanax are effective treatment options for anxiety and muscle spasm. While the Soma pill is more effective for muscle pain despite its potent anti-anxiety properties, Xanax is frequently prescribed for anxiety. 



Soma and Xanax are two distinct classes of medication, paving their mark in the pharmaceutical world. So, why are we taking the trouble of comparing them? 

Even though these medications have different clinical benefits, they share a common ground when it comes to treating symptoms of anxiety and muscle relaxation.  

This blog explores the shared purpose of Xanax and Soma pills as muscle relaxants and anxiety medications by evaluating their unique characteristics, working mechanism, and potential health risks. 


Xanax And Soma- An Overview

Carisoprodol, marked under the brand name Soma pill in the USA, is a noncontrolled skeletal muscle relaxant [1,2]. It is a prescription drug that is approved for medical use by the FDA in the year 1959 [3]. 

Alprazolam, available under the brand Xanax belongs to a group of medicine called benzodiazepines [4]. Its use was approved by the FDA in 2003 and has been a common therapeutic choice for anxiety ever since [5]. It is one of the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications in the United States, with about 48 million prescriptions in 2013 [6]. 




Soma Pill 

Generic name



Brand name


Soma pill


Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

HAB Pharmaceuticals.

Legal Status

  • Australia (AU): S8 (Controlled drug)

  • Canada (CA): Schedule IV

  • Germany (DE): Anlage III (Special prescription form required) (in doses higher than 1 mg)

  • UK: Class C

  • US: Schedule IV

  • UN: Psychotropic Schedule IV prescription drug. 

  • US- Schedule IV.

  • Canada (CA)- prescription drug (Schedule I, sub-schedule F1).

  • UK- Prescription only. 


Class Of Drug


Muscle Relaxant.

Structural Differences




The active compound in the formulation of Xanax is Alprazolam. The inactive compounds present are corn starch, lactose, magnesium stearate, sodium benzoate, Cellulose, docusate sodium, and silicon dioxide [7]. 

Carisoprodol is the active compound in the Soma pill, and other inactive compounds such as Microcrystalline cellulose, Povidone, Croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, Stearic acid, Magnesium stearate, and Starch.


Soma Vs. Xanax- A Comparison Of Their Medical Benefits

Soma and Xanax are prescribed for different medical conditions; however, they are both considered effective for treating symptoms of anxiety and muscle spasms. So, let us first look at the individual benefits of these medications. 


Uses And Benefits Of The Soma Pill - The use of the Soma pill is for treating period cramps, back pain, headache, and fibromyalgia. The analgesic effect of this muscle relaxer helps in treating short-term musculoskeletal acute pain [8]. 


Medical Uses Of Xanax -  Xanax or Alprazolam is a prescription for treating panic and generalized anxiety disorders [6]. It is also considered an effective treatment option for chemotherapy-induced nausea [4]. 


Soma Vs Xanax For Muscle Spasms

The use of Xanax for muscle spasms is an off-label benefit of the medication and is not approved by the FDA  to treat pain [9]. However, the potential use of Xanax for relaxing muscles is scientifically proven by many clinical studies. 

A study reviewing the pharmacodynamic properties and efficacy of Alprazolam (Xanax) suggests that this drug, along with anticonvulsant and antianxiety properties, also has muscle-relaxing activities. It also states that Xanax is a much more potent muscle relaxant than diazepam [10]. Another study explaining the mechanism of action of benzodiazepines associates its muscle-relaxing effects with alpha-2 and alpha-3 subunits of the GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor [11]. 

In addition to clinical studies supporting the beneficial effects of Alprazolam as a muscle relaxer, some studies contradict these findings. One such study was published in 2012 by Bethan L Richards et al. in the Cochrane Library. The study demonstrated that the use of benzodiazepines was not effective in improving pain over 24 hours or 1 week [12]. 

On the other hand, the Soma pill or Carisoprodol is a prescription medication for managing muscle cramps and spasms. Some of the notable studies suggesting the analgesic effect of Carisoprodol or Soma pill are mentioned below. 


Clinical Study 1 - A study by  Peter E. Toth (MD, Ph.D.) et al. published on ScienceDirect in 2004 put forward the effective management of lower back pain due to muscle spams by muscle relaxants such as Carisoprodol [13]. 


Clinical Study 2 - A case report by Lee Ralph on the website Tandfonline suggests that patients with acute muscle pain or spasms experienced significant and rapid relief from pain from Carisoprodol [14]. 


Clinical Study 3 - A study by Richard W. Payne (MD) evaluating the use of Meprobamate (primary metabolite of Carisoprodol or Soma pill) suggest it significantly improves sleeping pattern in individuals along with relieving pain [15]. 


Soma And Xanax For Treating Anxiety 

The use of Soma pill or Carisoprodol for treating anxiety is an off-label benefit of the muscle relaxer and is not approved by the FDA. However, clinical studies indicate its beneficial effects in improving the signs of anxiety. Its anti-anxiety property is contributed by Meprobamate, a primary metabolite of Carisoprodol or Soma pill. 

The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association suggests the effectiveness of Meprobamate as a tranquilizing agent that can be beneficial for treating stress and anxiety [16]. 

This is further confirmed and supported by numerous other studies, some of which are listed below. 

A controlled trial treating patients with anxiety showed significant improvement with Meprobamate. The study reports great alleviation in anxiety, phobic symptoms, and tension [17]. 

Assessment Of Change In Symptoms Of Two Groups At The End Of Trial




Much Better







































Compulsions or phobias 










Alprazolam or Xanax is approved by the FDA for treating anxiety disorders. Its potency as an anti-anxiety drug is corroborated by countless scientific research. 





Alprazolam in the treatment of generalized anxiety and panic disorders: A double-blind placebo-controlled study.

Journal of Psychopharmacology, springer [18]. 

A double-blind controlled study showed Alprazolam dosages between 0.25 and 3 mg/day are effective in treating panic disorder. 

Preoperative Alprazolam Reduces Anxiety in Ambulatory Surgery Patients: A Comparison with Oral Midazolam [19]. 

Journal of Anesthesia and Analgesia.

International Anesthesia Research Society. 

The study concludes 0.5 mg of alprazolam can be used as a premedication to reduce anxiety before ambulatory surgery. 

A comparison of the safety and efficacy of alprazolam versus other agents in the treatment of anxiety, panic, and depression: A review of the literature [20].

American Psychological Association. 

A case study involving 84 medications conducted on 8,876 patients indicated Alprazolam is an effective treatment for panic disorder, anxiety issues, and depression. The study further concludes that no reports of withdrawal reactions, suicidality, psychosis, and seizures were reported from this treatment. 


Xanax vs Soma- Similarities And Differences 




Both Soma and Xanax have a few similar properties, such as-

- Onset Of Action : Both medications take 30 minutes to start acting. 


- Pregnancy Guidelines : Even though Xanax and Soma pills fall into distinct pregnancy categories, administering these drugs during pregnancy and lactation is not advisable. 

Xanax is a category D pregnancy medication indicating that a potential health risk to the fetus has been observed in human trials. Whereas the Soma pill is a category C medication demonstrating no health risks, has been studied or reported in humans, and is only limited to animal trials [21]. 


- Sedation Potency : Xanax is a mild tranquilizer that results in sedation by slowing down the activities of the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain. Carisoprodol is a central nervous system depressant and thus also known to cause sedative effects.  

The sedative effect of both Carisoprodol and Alprazolam helps reduce the signs of anxiety by relaxing and calming the brain activity. 


- Health Factors : The use of these medications is not recommended for people with kidney, liver, and heart disorders. 


- Age Restrictions : The use of these medications is not recommended for people below 17 years and above 65 years. 


Is Soma A Benzo? 

Even though Carisoprodol is marketed as a muscle relaxant, this, along with its primary metabolite, Meprobamate, is considered a benzodiazepine, which is a class of tranquilizing medications [8]. Xanax also belongs to the benzodiazepine drug class. 


Apart from the notable similarities between the two medications, there are a few differences that set them apart. These differences are also distinguishing factors for people choosing the right therapeutic option between the two. 


- Duration of Action : The action of Xanax lasts for 6 hours, whereas the effects of the Soma pill last for 4 to 6 hours. 


- Dosage And Strengths : The Soma pill is available in two strengths Soma 350 mg and 500 mg. The 350 mg of Carisoprodol is more suited for beginners and people with mild body pain. In comparison, people order Soma 500 mg for moderate to severe acute pain. 

Xanax is marketed in four strengths- 0.25mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg.

Both these medications should be orally three to four times a day. 


- Administration : The following administration guidelines should be followed taking both Carisoprodol and Alprazolam pills-

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not administer other medications and supplements while taking them.
  • Avoid crushing and splitting the tablets.
  • They can be taken before or following a light meal.
  •  Long-term use of these medications is not advisable. Alprazolam should not be taken over 6 weeks, and Carisoprodol should not be over 3 weeks. 


Can You Mix Xanax And Soma?

Mixing soma and Xanax together is not advisable as it increases the risk of experiencing side effects. 

Some of the potential health risks of taking these compounds together are drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and confusion. Such interaction in elderly people may further impair judgment, motor coordination, and thinking ability. 


Management- If, under any condition, both these medications are co-administered, in such cases, it is essential to regularly monitor the patient for respiratory and CNS depression. 



Advisory Note From The Author 

In early 2000, the use of Alprazolam and Carisoprodol with Hydrocodone was taken for recreation purposes. This cocktail of medication is called the “Holy Trinity” or the “Houston Cocktail.” The Concomitant use of these compounds enhances the euphoric effect of these medications and results in respiratory depression [22]. 

Thus, Carisoprodol and Alprazolam should only be taken together after consulting a physician. This drug combination, even if it has been prescribed to you by your physician, should not be suggested or given to a friend or a family member without consultation. 



Which Among Alprazolam And Carisoprodol Is More Affordable? 




Based on the price list available on the website Drugs, the cost of 0.25 mg of Xanax is about $556 for a supply of 100 tablets [23]. On the contrary, the Soma 350 mg price is $298 for 400 tablets ($0.74 per pill) at online pharmacies such as Healthnaturo. 

However, it is essential to note that the cost of these medications may vary based on the pill package and the pharmacy. 


Xanax Vs Soma Withdrawals

Carisoprodol is a Schedule IV controlled substance (any and all medications with a limited potential for dependency and abuse). 

A report by Roy R. Reeves et al. in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine suggests limiting the use of Carisoprodol to short-term musculoskeletal pain due to its abuse potency [24]. 

This abuse potency may result in withdrawal symptoms upon sudden discontinuation of the muscle relaxer. Some common symptoms of withdrawal are insomnia, body aches, and perspiration. 

A case study by Karen Ni from the University of California reports the development of delirium (confusion, inability to think, and disorientation) after the abrupt discontinuation of Carisoprodol. The withdrawal symptoms of the Soma pill are also attributed to its metabolite, Meprobamate [25]. 

Alprazolam is a Schedule 8 prescription medication with strict legislative controls and a high potency for addiction and abuse. The clinical use of Alprazolam has been a factor of concern as most physicians consider it to be highly addictive. This gives Xanax unique psychodynamic properties that limit its usefulness [6]. 

Withdrawal Timeline





Onset of Withdrawal 

Symptoms may occur after 12-48 hours from the last dosage. 

It usually begins within 24 hours after the last dose. 

Notable Symptoms

Muscle twitching, Hallucinations, Seizures, Tachycardia, Chills, Tremors, Vomiting, Confusion, and Insomnia. 

Panic attacks, Loss of appetite, Hyperventilation, Abnormal sensations, Tremors, Seizures, Sweating, Insomnia, Hypersensitivity to light, sound, or touch, hallucinations, delirium, and delusions. 

How long do the symptoms last? 

The symptoms of Soma withdrawal cease within 12 to 48 hours. 

An acute withdrawal may last between 5 to 28 days, whereas, in severe cases, it may last for about a year. 


Precaution And Warnings For Soma And Xanax

  • The use of both these medications can result in drug interaction and, thus, should not be taken with other supplements and medicines. 

  • Under certain conditions and health factors, one may experience side effects after taking Soma or Xanx dosage. Under such conditions, it is advised to discontinue the treatment and consult a physician. 

  • As both these medications are known to cause a sedative effect, thus driving and using heavy machinery should not be used after administration. 

  • Ensure you are not allergic to any of the compounds present in the formulation of these medicines. 


Our Final Thoughts On The Soma Vs. Xanax Debate

Xanax and the Soma pill are both FDA-approved medications; with similar medical benefits. However, the Soma pill is a preferred medication for body pain, whereas Xanax is commonly prescribed for anxiety. 

Factors To Consider While Choosing Between Xanax And Soma Pill 

If you still haven't made up your mind on which is the correct treatment option for you, we are here to help you. Below is a summary of all the key factors that should be taken into consideration while choosing between Alprazolam and Carisoprodol. 





Onset of action

30 minutes.

30 minutes.

Duration of action

4 to 6 hours.

6 hours.


More affordable ($0.74 per pill).

Less affordable. 

Abuse Potency

Comparatively low. 

Highly addictive. 

Safer Pregnancy option

No reports of side effects in humans, and is comparatively safer. 

Reports of health issues in infants when used by pregnant women. 

Drug Interaction

362 drugs are known to interact with Carisoprodol.

Alprazolam can interact with  537 medications. 


Based on our findings, if we have to suggest one medication, it would be the Soma pill, as it is a much safer and more affordable treatment option. However, we would not suggest taking Soma medication for anxiety without a prescription. 



Content Disclaimer-

The conclusion drawn by the author and editorial team is based on their understanding and findings of the products. All the references of the sources from where the information was collected are mentioned with due citation. 

We recommend all our readers consult a doctor before taking the Soma pill or Xanax as your physician may have a different diagnosis and recommendation from us. 



No, both Xanax (Alprazolam) and Carisoprodol are different classes of medication. Soma pill is a prescription muscle relaxant, whereas Xanax is prescribed for treating anxiety disorder.

Apart from using Xanax for anxiety, other treatment options are diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril). Carisoprodol (Soma) is also an effective treatment option that works within 30 minutes of intake but however, is not approved by the FDA.

Since Xanax and Soma pills belong to different drug classes, thus it can be difficult to say which is a stronger medication. However, the Soma pill is a stronger muscle relaxant or analgesic than Xanax and provides better pain relief in 30 minutes.

Yes, Carisoprodol or Soma pill is considered a benzodiazepine due to its primary metabolite Meprobamate.

Muscle relaxers such as Soma pill, Diazepam, and Oxazepam can help manage signs of anxiety.

Soma pill has an effective anti-anxiety property and works by calming the activity of the brain. It works within 30 minutes; however, it is not approved by the FDA for anxiety disorders. Thus, people should take Soma for anxiety after consulting a doctor.

Yes, muscle relaxers work on the Central Nervous System of the body, causing a sedative effect. It thus helps in relaxing the brain of the user.


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