Emergency department visits involving the misuse of the muscle relaxant carisoprodol have doubled from 15,830 visits in 2004 to 31,763 visits in 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Although carisoprodol is a useful medication for short-term treatment of acute muscle pain including pain from severe injuries, it can be dangerous when misused – especially in combination with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and/or with alcohol. Carisoprodol is sold under various brand names including Soma, Soprodal, and Vanadom.
Among the report’s findings:
· Visits involving carisoprodol misuse increased for all age groups, with visits involving patients aged 50 or older tripling between 2004 and 2009.
· The majority of emergency department visits involving the misuse of the drug also involved other pharmaceuticals (77 percent); the most common combinations involved narcotic pain relievers (55 percent), followed by benzodiazepines (47 percent ). Alcohol was involved in 12 percent of carisoprodol-related visits.
· Overall more than one-third of emergency department visits related to carisoprodol misuse (35 percent) required follow-up hospitalization.
“Muscle relaxants are the latest in the list of prescription medications that are being diverted from intended therapeutic use,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “These costly emergency department visits can be reduced with increased attention to substance abuse prevention in the first place. Following directions for use, proper disposal and safe storage of prescription medication are three simple things all Americans can do to help reduce the epidemic of prescription drug misuse.
The report, ED Visits Involving the Muscle Relaxant Carisoprodol, was developed as part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to inform policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues. The report is based on data from the 2004 – 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits reported throughout the nation.
The full report is available on the web at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k11/DAWN071/WEB_DAWN_071.cfm.
For related publications and information, visit http://ww.samhsa.gov/.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.