Carisoprodol, a centrally acting muscle relaxant with a high abuse potential, has barbiturate-like properties at the GABA-A receptor, leading to central nervous system depression and desired effects. Its tolerance and dependence has been previously demonstrated in an animal model, and withdrawal has been described in several recent case reports. Many cases can be effectively managed with a short course of benzodiazepines or antipsychotic agents. However, abrupt cessation in a patient with a history of long-term and high-dose carisoprodol abuse may result in symptoms that are more difficult for providers to treat.
We present a case of a 34-year-old man with a long history of carisoprodol abuse who was found unresponsive after having ingested 7.5 grams of carisoprodol. He was intubated and admitted to the intensive care unit. He was given propofol, dexmedetomidine, fentanyl, ketamine, lorazepam, midazolam, quetiapine, and haloperidol, some at high-dose infusions, before his agitation and ventilator asynchrony could be controlled. His improvement coincided with the addition of carisoprodol and phenobarbital to his treatment regimen.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
Trends show increasing emergency department presentations for drug-related disorders and treatment. This case highlights an uncommon case of carisoprodol withdrawal that may be encountered by emergency physicians, and demonstrates that benzodiazepines may not be sufficient to suppress severe withdrawal symptoms. Treatment with carisoprodol and phenobarbital provided additional benefit and can be considered in cases of severe carisoprodol withdrawal.
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US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Carisoprodol. Available at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/carisoprodol/carisoprodol.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2016.
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Published online: December 12, 2016
Accepted: November 1, 2016
Received in revised form: September 20, 2016
Received: July 30, 2016
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