Buspar (Buspirone) Addiction And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022

Buspar (buspirone) is a drug most often prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders. People with a history of drug abuse may be at higher risk for abusing Buspar, however, which may require substance abuse treatment.

Buspar (Buspirone) Addiction — Abuse And Treatment Options

Buspar, the brand name for the drug buspirone, is an anti-anxiety medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as anxiolytics.

Buspar is prescribed as a short-term treatment for anxiety disorders and may be used off-label as an antidepressant or to treat opioid withdrawal.

Unlike other types of drugs commonly prescribed for anxiety, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), Buspar is non-addictive. It has a low potential for drug abuse.

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People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may misuse Buspar for its sedating effects. Buspar abuse may be treated through a combination of behavioral therapy, support groups, and drug rehab.

What Does Buspar Do?

Buspirone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is sometimes prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or to relieve feelings of anxiety on a short-term basis.

Anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders like depression have been associated with an imbalance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Buspar is believed to relieve anxiety due to its ability to change the amounts of these chemicals in the brain.

Buspar comes in the form of a tablet to be taken orally. Doctors who prescribe Buspar may begin with a small dose, and adjust the dosage as needed.

Side Effects Of Buspirone

Buspirone may cause some physical and mental side effects when taken. Buspar works in the body by slowing activity in the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.

Side effects of buspirone may include:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • lightheadedness
  • confusion
  • numbness

Take Buspar exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Taking Buspar in higher doses or more often than prescribed may cause adverse effects.

Some serious side effects—such as fast heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, psychosis, and swelling—can also occur.

Buspar Abuse: Signs And Symptoms

Drug abuse refers to a pattern of compulsively using drugs without medical guidance. Buspar abuse is not common. Buspar may be abused by people with a prior history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Buspar may be abused in the following ways:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking doses more often
  • taking it without a prescription
  • taking it for longer than prescribed
  • crushing and snorting Buspar tablets

People with a history of drug abuse may misuse Buspar for its sedative effects. People may also mix Buspar with other drugs to get high or to get drunk faster, when mixed with alcohol.

Is Buspar Addictive?

There’s little evidence to suggest that Buspar is addictive. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that Buspar is unlikely to cause drug tolerance, dependence, addiction, or be misused.

Compared to similar types of drugs, such as barbiturates, Buspar does not affect the brain in such a way that reinforces compulsive drug use.

That is, people don’t generally crave Buspar or feel driven to use it like they might with heroin, prescription opioids, or benzodiazepines.

Dangers Of Buspar Abuse

Drug abuse can have acute and long-term effects on physical, mental, and psychological health. One of the biggest dangers of abusing depressant drugs like Buspar is a risk of overdose.

Overdose occurs when someone has taken too much of one or more drugs at once. Taking high doses of Buspar, or mixing Buspar with other depressants such as alcohol, can cause overdose.

Signs of Buspar overdose may include:

  • weak pulse
  • nausea
  • sedation
  • difficulty breathing
  • cognitive impairment
  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • low blood pressure
  • upset stomach
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness

Some people may take Buspar with alcohol in order to enhance the intoxicating effects of alcohol or to get high. This can be very dangerous.

Physicians prescribing Buspar generally recommend that those who take the drug avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible to avoid a serious interaction.

If someone you know is showing signs of overdose after taking Buspar, call 911 for immediate medical assistance. Drug overdose involving alcohol, opioids, or other sedatives may be life-threatening without rapid treatment.

Considerations For Buspar Use

Buspar can interact with some substances, including other anti-anxiety medications, in a way that can be harmful to physical and mental health.

Tell your healthcare provider if you’re currently or have recently stopped taking MAO inhibitors (MAOIs), or are taking other over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

Considerations for using Buspar include:

  • avoid drinking grapefruit juice
  • avoid alcohol while taking Buspar
  • tell your doctor if you have a history of drug abuse
  • do not attempt to operate heavy machinery after taking Buspar
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding before taking Buspar

Buspar Withdrawal: Signs And Symptoms

Taking Buspar does not generally cause drug tolerance or dependence with long-term use like most other drugs.

However, if you’ve been taking Buspar for a long period of time, it’s possible the body may experience a reaction, known as drug withdrawal, if you attempt to stop taking Buspar.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • tiredness
  • rebound anxiety
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • stomach cramps
  • tremors (shaking)
  • sweating

Drug withdrawal from other common drugs of abuse, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, can cause severe symptoms without medical treatment.

If you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, your doctor may recommend that you begin a medical detox program.

Treatment For Buspar Abuse

If you or someone you know is taking Buspar in ways other than prescribed, consider talking to your doctor about available treatment options.

Treatment for Buspar abuse may include:

Recovery from drug abuse is possible. Call our helpline today to learn more about drug addiction treatment options and how to find treatment for Buspar abuse.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022
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