Huxley wrote his novel in 1928 and it was astounding how close he came to the character of today's society. Soma use in BNW is similar to any use of prescription or recreational or illegal drugs today. With Lenina spouting her hypnopaedic mottoes such as "a gramme is better than a damn" and so forth, we see people using and abusing drugs to escape reality and go on their own "soma holidays." Prescription drugs and the use of contraceptives are also similar in BNW and our society. We manipulate nature with the use of contraceptives, the pill for example, so that women's bodies increase their hormones and their bodies "think" they're pregnant. (Forgive my rude understanding of the birth control pill...) Anti-depressants also alter the brain chemistry so that the individual perceives the world differently. The point is that we do have people who are willing to manipulate reality through the use of recreational, prescription, or illegal substances. Even alcohol and pain medications are inclusive cases.
Use of Soma in Brave New world is different form the drugs problem today in two ways. First, Soma is supposed to be very safe and very effective, unlike the illegal drugs of today. Second, use of soma, is actually promoted by the government rather than declared illegal and controlled.
Soma is more like the legal sleeping pills of today. Still none of the drugs available today - legally or illegally - are anywhere as safe or as effective as soma.