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Soma Vs. Xanax- Understanding Their Differences & Similarities

Soma Vs. Xanax- Understanding Their Differences & Similarities


Soma and Xanax are both effective treatment options for anxiety and muscle spasms. While the Soma pill is more effective for muscle pain despite its potent anti-anxiety properties, Xanax is a better treatment option 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 Soma vs. Xanax? 

Even though these medications have different clinical benefits, they share a common ground when treating anxiety and providing muscle relaxation.  

This blog explores the shared purpose of Xanax and Soma pills as muscle relaxants and anxiety medications. Their unique characteristics, working mechanisms, and potential health risks are evaluated here. 


Xanax And Soma- An Overview

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

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


Similarities Between Soma and Xanax 

Soma pills and Xanax share a few similarities, as mentioned below. 

Drug Schedule In The USA-

Both Soma pills and Xanax are categorized as Scheduled IV prescription drugs in the USA by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 


Soma and Xanax are proven effective in improving signs of anxiety and providing muscle relaxation. 

Health Considerations-

These medications are not recommended for people with kidney, liver, or heart disorders. 


The effects of Carisoprodol are similar to those of tranquilizers such as Xanax, according to a study by Mayank Gupta. 

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. Meanwhile, 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]. 


Differences Between Xanax And Soma Pill 

Apart from the similarities, a few differentiating factors that should be considered are mentioned in the table below. 




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

  • UN: Psychotropic Schedule IV prescription drug. 

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

  • UK- Prescription only. 



Class Of Drug


Muscle Relaxant.

Structural Differences



Soma pill or Carisoprodol has a chemical structure that is not related to benzodiazepines and is classified as a carbamate. In contrast, Xanax (alprazolam) has a benzodiazepine chemical structure with a diazepine ring.


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

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


The other notable distinguishing factors for people choosing the right therapeutic option between the two are listed below. 

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 has three strengths: Soma 250mg, 350 mg, and 500 mg. 

The 350 mg of carisoprodol is better suited for beginners and people with mild body pain. In comparison, people order Soma 500 mg, the strongest muscle relaxer, for moderate to severe acute pain. 

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


Soma Vs. Xanax- A Comparison Of 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 Soma pill treats period cramps, back pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia. This muscle relaxer's analgesic effect helps treat short-term musculoskeletal acute pain [8]. 

Medical Uses Of Xanax -  

Xanax or Alprazolam is a prescription medication for treating panic and generalized anxiety disorders [6]. It is also 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 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. 

- Xanax For Muscle Spasms

  • A study conducted in 1984 by G. W. Dawson et al. indicates that Alprazolam exhibits muscle-relaxing effects in addition to its anticonvulsant and antianxiety properties [10]. 

  • Another study on Alprazolam by Tobin T. George and Jayson Tripp suggests this medication targets the specific regions of the brain called alpha-2 and alpha-3 subunits. When these units are activated, the calming effect of the GABA neurotransmitter increases, which can help reduce anxiety [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]. 

- Soma For Muscle Spasms

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 spasms by muscle relaxants such as Carisoprodol [13]. 

  • Clinical Study 2- 

Patients with acute muscle pain or spasms experienced significant and rapid relief from pain from Carisoprodol, according to a study by Lee Ralph published on the website Tandfonline. 

  • Clinical Study 3- 

A study by Richard W. Payne (MD) evaluating the use of Meprobamate (primary metabolite of Carisoprodol or the Soma pill) suggests it significantly improves sleeping patterns 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 and is not approved by the FDA. However, clinical studies indicate its beneficial effects on improving the signs of anxiety. 

Meprobamate, a primary metabolite of Carisoprodol or Soma pill, also contributes to its anti-anxiety properties. The Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association suggests the effectiveness of Meprobamate as a tranquilizing agent. This agent can be beneficial for treating stress and anxiety [16].

A controlled trial conducted in 1958 by John M. Hinton suggests that treating patients with anxiety showed significant improvement with Meprobamate. The study reports great alleviation in anxiety, phobic symptoms, and tension [17]. 

- Xanax For Anxiety

The FDA approves Alprazolam or Xanax for treating anxiety disorders. Its potency as an anti-anxiety drug is corroborated by countless scientific studies. 





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 effectively treat 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 that 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, or seizures were reported from this treatment. 


A comparison between Meprobamate and Xanax in treating anxiety symptoms indicates that while Meprobamate or Soma pill showcases effective anti-anxiety properties, its medical use is not approved by the FDA. Consequently, Xanax can be a preferable treatment option.


Administration Guidelines 

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

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.

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

  • 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 taken over 3 weeks. 


Side Effects Of Xanax And Soma Pill 



Side Effects Of Soma Pill

Side Effects Of Xanax

Common side effects:

Headache, blurred vision, nervousness, agitation, irritability, vomiting, hiccups, and an upset stomach.

Loss of interest or pleasure, tiredness, slurred speech, lightheadedness, lack of appetite, discouragement, forgetfulness, unsteadiness, trouble speaking and sleeping, and unsteady walking.

Rare side effects:

Fever, twitching, diarrhea, and loss of coordination.

Jittery, chest pain, ringing or buzzing noise in the ears, loss of control of the legs, voice changes, and suicidal thoughts.


Xanax Vs. Soma- Dependency and Abuse Potency

The soothing effects of both Carisoprodol and Alprazolam help reduce anxiety by relaxing and calming brain activity. But it can also result in a higher risk of abuse. 

Xanax is a mild tranquilizer that results in sedation by slowing down the activities of the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain. It works by slowing brain functioning and is thus considered the most addictive benzodiazepine today. 

Carisoprodol is a CNS depressant and is thus also known to cause sedative effects.  It may be habit-forming, especially when combined with other medications and supplements. 

It is important to note the following key points- 

  • The Soma pill and Xanax produce a euphoric and sedative effect that people with substance use disorders often seek.

  • The Soma pill can intensify the effects of other drugs, such as Xanax. 

According to a 2020 study by Mayank Gupta, Xanax is one of the most widely abused tranquilizers. Whereas soma pill abuse has significantly decreased from 1.4 (2008) to 0.2 (2019). 

Is Carisoprodol (Soma) a benzodiazepine? 

Even though carisoprodol is a muscle relaxant, its primary metabolite, meprobamate, is considered a benzodiazepine class of tranquilizing medications [8]. 

Xanax also belongs to the benzodiazepine drug class. 


Drug Interactions

Both Soma pills and Xanax can interact with other medications and supplements. Drug interactions lower the efficacy of the treatment and increase the risk of side effects. 

Carisoprodol or Soma pills can interact with 362 medications, whereas Xanax can interact with 542 drugs. Below are some of the common medications that should not be taken with the Soma pill and Xanax. 


Soma Pill Drug Interactions

Xanax Drug Interaction






















Can you mix Xanax and Soma?

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

In early 2000, alprazolam (Xanax) and carisoprodol with hydrocodone were taken for recreational purposes. This cocktail of medication is called the “Holy Trinity” or the “Houston Cocktail.” The concurrent use of these compounds enhances the euphoric effect and results in respiratory depression [22].

Side Effects- 

Some potential health risks of Xanax and soma interaction include drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and confusion. Such interaction in elderly people may further impair judgment, motor coordination, and thinking ability. 


If, under any condition, both these medications are co-administered, in such cases, it is essential to monitor the patient for respiratory and CNS depression regularly. Taking a Soma pill with Xanax is addictive and also potentially dangerous. 



Advisory Note From The Author: 

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



Which of Alprazolam and Carisoprodol is more Affordable? 

Based on the price list on the website Drugs, the cost of 0.25 mg of Xanax is about $556 for a supply of 100 tablets ($5.56 per pill) [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 Symptoms And Risks 

Carisoprodol is a Schedule IV controlled substance (any medication 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]. 

  • Upon sudden discontinuation of the muscle relaxer, it may result in withdrawal symptoms. Some common symptoms of Soma 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. It gives Xanax unique psychodynamic properties that limit its usefulness [6]. 

  • It is estimated that about 40% of people experience severe Xanax withdrawal while 60% of users experience mild symptoms, according to an article by Healthline. 

  • Some of the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include muscle spasms, insomnia, panic attacks, sweating, restlessness, hallucinations, palpitations, seizures, hand tremors, confusion, and anxiety. 

Withdrawal Timeline For Soma And Xanax- 





Onset of Withdrawal 

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

It usually begins within 24 hours after the last dose. 

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. In severe cases, it may last for about a year. 


Precautions And Warnings For Soma And Xanax

  • Both of these medications cause a sedative effect. Hence, driving and using heavy machinery should not be done after administration. 

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

  • People with porphyria (a rare blood disorder) should not use Soma pills without consulting a physician. 

  • Soma pill is not recommended for people below the age of 17. Patients under 18 should not take Xanax. 

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. The table 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

There are no reports of side effects in humans, and it is comparatively safer. 

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

Drug Interaction

Lower drug interactions. 

Alprazolam has a higher risk of drug interaction. 


Our findings suggest taking Soma pills for body pain, whereas Xanax if you struggle with anxiety. 


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 prescribed for anxiety. 


It is essential to note that the conclusion is based on our understanding of the subject. It may differ from recommendations provided by your physician following a thorough examination of your health condition. 


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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