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BuSpar (Buspirone) Addiction, Abuse & Treatment

What Is BuSpar?

BuSpar is a brand name medication made from buspirone. The official brand BuSpar isn’t sold in the US anymore, though it’s still available in sort parts of the world. Buspirone is still used in the US as the generic form of BuSpar.

Buspirone acts as an anxiolytic, which is a medication that treats anxiety.

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How Does BuSpar Work?

Certain chemicals in the brain can affect your overall mental wellbeing. By impeding the reuptake of serotonin and potentially dopamine, it relieves anxiety and makes you feel calm. This medication does not treat depression or other conditions related to anxiety. It’s used exclusively for anxiety.

Buspirone has sometimes been used to treat underlying anxiety in addicts going through withdrawal or treatment for their substance abuse. The most common use for buspirone is treating anxiety, especially when other antianxiety medications may not be appropriate.

Can You Get Addicted to Buspirone?

It is possible to be addicted to buspirone. Buspirone addiction is not common, but it can occur. With normal prescribed doses and regular monitoring with your physician, addiction is far less likely. When abused, buspirone can more easily lead to addiction.

Buspirone has a lower chance of addiction than many other anti-anxiety medications. For this reason, it’s usually selected for people with a past history of substance abuse who are in need of anti-anxiety medication. It’s also sometimes used to replace an anti-anxiety medication that someone may currently be addicted to. While it’s not useful for tapering off, it’s a lower risk replacement.

However low the chance of addiction is, physical dependence can still be created with buspirone. Over the course of a long-term treatment plan, you may develop a tolerance for your normal dose of buspirone to the point that it stops being effective. In this case, you may have to increase your dose.

Psychological dependence is very uncommon with buspirone. Any psychological effects are more likely to be related to someone’s preference for how the drug allows them to live. Because of the way buspirone works, it’s rare for anyone to develop true psychological dependency on the drug itself, and even less common for anyone to crave the drug when it’s not present in their system.

When physical dependence develops at any level, you can experience withdrawal when you stop taking buspirone abruptly. Withdrawal will be more noticeable when you’re on a higher dose, but in most cases it’s mild. Symptoms of withdrawal from buspirone are generally never dangerous or life-threatening, though they can be uncomfortable. Most doctors recommend a slow tapering off rather than immediate discontinuation of treatment.

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BuSpar Abuse

Buspirone is abused regularly. The desired effects vary from person to person. Many people seek out the sedation effects of buspirone, some use it alongside other substances for enhanced effects, while others claim to feel a sense of high from taking it.

While buspirone isn’t a sedative directly, it can cause a sedation effect when abused. Large doses of buspirone might make you feel sedated and remove every trace of anxiety. People who struggle with severe anxiety may sometimes abuse buspirone because they prefer the sedation over their consistent state of anxiety. If prescription doses don’t bring enough relief over time, they may take larger doses than prescribed in order to enhance the effects quickly.

Abuse can also start once tolerance forms. If you feel that the medication isn’t working as it’s supposed to, you may try to increase your own dose in order to get the benefits again. This should only be done under the supervision of a doctor and never on your own.

Any use of BuSpar outside of the prescribed dose and recommendations from your doctor is considered abuse. Buspirone can be abused at any dose, but high doses of the drug are more common with abuse. As abuse goes on, your body can build up a tolerance to even the higher doses and cause you to increase even further past the recommended boundaries.

How Buspirone Is Abused

Normal doses of buspirone don’t generally exceed 60mg per day. When abused, it can be taken at much higher doses, up to or exceeding 375mg per day. It’s sometimes taken all at once or taken in separate doses throughout the day.

Buspirone may be taken orally in large doses, but it tends to take longer to get the effects via ingestion. Instead, buspirone tablets may be crushed and snorted or smoked for a more immediate effect. These methods of abusing buspirone are not recommended or safe, and may lead to other side effects beyond those associated with taking the medication itself.

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Can You Get High from Buspirone?

The general result from taking very high doses of buspirone is extreme sedation rather than euphoria or high. You’re not likely to get high from taking buspirone, even at enormous doses.

Some people have reported feeling high after taking buspirone, but it’s not clear if they took it alone or with other substances. You’re more likely to feel very relaxed and calm after taking buspirone rather than high or hyperactive.

Buspirone won’t lead to the out of body feeling that some anti-depressants or opioids provide. It’s limited to sedation, which is why it’s considered a lower risk medication for addiction or abuse.

Mixing BuSpar & Alcohol

Many people who abuse buspirone do so alongside alcohol use. Even moderate alcohol consumption with buspirone isn’t recommended. Whether you’re taking buspirone on a prescription or non-prescription basis, alcohol should not be used concurrently.

Buspirone and alcohol is a dangerous combination. Alcohol naturally acts as a depressant, slowing down your brain function and making movements difficult. Buspirone tends to further exacerbate any effects on the central nervous system. This can lead to more intense dizziness and drowsiness as well as a reduction in your ability to make decisions, difficulty concentrating, and impaired judgment.

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Mixing BuSpar & Other Substances

Buspirone is sometimes taken alongside other addictive substances to alter their effects. It’s dangerous to mix buspirone with other drugs because it can lead to stronger negative reactions and severe drug interactions.

Some drugs, when taken with buspirone, will increase blood pressure to dangerous levels. This includes everything from over the counter antihistamines to grapefruit supplements, so you need to be careful about what you take while on buspirone. Consult with a doctor before you start any prescription or non-prescription medications.

MAOIs are dangerous in combination with buspirone because of the risk of developing serotonin syndrome. This is a set of symptoms that can be mild or severe. When it’s severe, it can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical treatment. The chances of developing serotonin syndrome increase if you’re abusing buspirone and certain other types of drugs at the same time.

Treating BuSpar Addiction

If you are addicted to buspirone, treatment will generally consist of slow tapering off until you’re no longer taking the drug at all. When buspirone is the only substance you’re addicted to, treatment will be fairly simple and will probably be done fully out-patient. You likely won’t need in-patient treatment for buspirone addiction alone.

When buspirone addiction is not the only addiction you’re dealing with, treatment can be more difficult. While it’s easy to come off of buspirone alone, it’s more difficult when multiple substances are involved and treatment for them all is ongoing simultaneously. Your doctor may recommend coming off one substance at a time, starting with harmful substances and ending with buspirone. However, they may also recommend doing all of them at once to avoid the negative effects of continued abuse.

There is no medication that’s known to help treat BuSpar addiction or withdrawal. Because it works in a different way than many other anti-anxiety medications, there are no direct substitutes that can take the place of buspirone and remove physical dependence or ease symptoms of withdrawal.

Withdrawal from BuSpar is not as severe as withdrawal from many other addictive substances. Your doctor will likely recommend certain over the counter medications to help make withdrawal easier for you to go through. Although it’s not severe and unlikely to be dangerous, it can still be uncomfortable and will inhibit your normal daily functions. You may feel sick and uncomfortable for a few days or more than a week as the drug leaves your system.

Nausea medication, headache relief medication, and other safe medications may be used to remove symptoms of withdrawal as you’re getting the buspirone out of your system. Make sure you only take medications approved by your doctor or pharmacist to avoid negative drug interactions.

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Buspirone Overdose

You can overdose on buspirone. While taking the recommended prescription dose, you’re highly unlikely to experience anything like an overdose. However, with buspirone abuse, you have a higher chance of accidental overdose that could lead to dangerous complications.

Some of the symptoms of overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Small pupil size

Overdose on buspirone may not be life-threatening when treated by a medical professional, but buspirone is rarely abused and overdosed by itself. Often, overdose occurs when another substance is also being used, whether that’s alcohol or otherwise. When an overdose occurs under these circumstances, it’s significantly more dangerous.

Buspirone may enhance sedative effects of other drugs while reducing the effectiveness of both, causing you to take more of each. This may lead to complications and life-threatening side effects. There is no known treatment that can reverse the effects of buspirone in your body.

Sources

https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Buspirone-(BuSpar)

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/buspirone-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20062457?p=1

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/018731s051lbl.pdf

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a688005.html

https://www.rxlist.com/buspar-drug.htm#warnings

https://www.drugs.com/cons/buspirone.html

https://www.drugs.com/food-interactions/buspirone.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531477/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865832/

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