High on BuSpar: The Anti-Anxiety Med That Isn’t as Innocent as You Might Think
Buspar or buspirone is used as an anti-anxiety medication. It is considered by many to have a low risk of addiction. Most believe it can be very effective. However, this is not the whole truth. Like many prescription drugs, it is still misused and abused. It is important to educate yourself if you or a loved one use buspirone. An understanding of this drug can help lower the chance of addiction.
What Is Buspirone HCL?
Buspirone hydrochloride is the generic form of Buspar. The FDA classifies it as an anxiolytic. It is not related to benzodiazepines or barbiturates. This medication is prescribed to treat symptoms of severe anxiety. Sometimes, it is used for patients suffering from both anxiety and depression. Experts are not sure exactly how it works. They believe it affects certain chemicals in the brain. The chemicals serotonin and dopamine are most likely. These would explain buspirone’s anti-anxiety effects.
Often, it’s given to patients who have a hard time coping with life. Buspar is said to help clear the mind and ease worried thoughts. Meant to encourage relaxation, it is also supposed to improve jitters and irritability. Sleeping issues, sweating, and a pounding heartbeat may get better, as well. It comes in a white tablet form that can be split in half. The tablets come in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg. Usually, they are meant to be taken 2 or 3 times a day.
Off Label Purposes
Sometimes, healthcare providers prescribe buspirone for conditions other than anxiety. However, whether it works in these situations hasn’t been proven. It’s off-label uses include the treatment of:
- Aggressive behavior and hyperactivity in children with autism
- Substance abuse and drug withdrawal
- Posttraumatic stress syndrome
- Tardive dyskinesia
- Premenstrual syndrome
Can Buspar Be Abused?
Reports on whether Buspar can be abused show different opinions. Some say that because it isn’t a benzodiazepine, addiction shouldn’t be concern. Other doctors and experts disagree. They claim that the mild sedation it causes can be habit forming.
Internet drug forums show a lot of interest in buspirone. Many wonder if it is similar to Xanax. Some who try it believe it has no recreational value. Others have a different experience. Those who favor it say the high lasts around 30 minutes. The effects seem to vary, however. A number of people describe feeling sedated. Different users say the buzz is similar to speed.
Why Is This Drug Abused?
Unlike medications such as Xanax, Buspar doesn’t cause feelings of euphoria. In that case, why abuse it? The sedative effects of this drug are a major reason. Buspirone abuse can result in a state of extreme sedation. People coping with anxiety might induce this by taking large doses at a time. Users become more and more sedated as doses grow higher. This provides temporary, but dangerous relief from their symptoms.
Buspirone abuse may also occur in users trying to ease symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Studies have shown that the drug can be effective for this purpose. Many medications work well when used for off-label reasons. However, trying this should never be decided on your own. It is very important to consult a doctor first. Still, some see Buspar as a cheap way to deal with withdrawal symptoms. This sort of self-medication is common among substance abusers.
Are Buspar and Xanax the Same Thing?
Buspirone and Xanax are both used to treat anxiety. They are prescribed to patients suffering from various anxiety disorders. However, these are very different drugs. Buspar is an anxiolytic medication and Xanax is a benzodiazepine. Doctors consider benzodiazepines to be quite addictive. On the other hand, anxiolytics are thought to be lower-risk.
Often, medications like Buspar are prescribed to people with a history of addiction. Many doctors will refuse to give benzodiazepines in such situations. Also, doctors tend to be less comfortable prescribing Xanax for long-term use. For example, Buspar and similar drugs should be taken daily. Xanax is often prescribed to be taken as-needed. For this reason, it is frequently used to treat panic attacks.
Here are some of their other differences:
- Buspar is less habit-forming than Xanax. However, it also takes longer to work. The effects may wear off over time as well.
- Xanax works very quickly. Still, it is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. It is also prone to interacting with other medications.
- Buspar is not very effective in treating short-term anxiety and panic attacks. Xanax usually works well to relieve symptoms of these conditions.
- Xanax users report more issues with memory problems, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion.
- Buspar is a better choice for people with liver problems. This is because Xanax is processed by the liver. As a result, the organ is put under extra stress.
- Xanax is available in pill, extended release, dissolving tablet, and liquid form. BuSpar is only available in pill form. They can both be bought as a generic.
The Dangers of Mixing Buspirone with Alcohol
Another reason why Buspar may be abused is the feeling it gives when combined with alcohol. This combination is said to create an intense “high”or drunken state. Together, the effects are said to be better than either substance by itself. Users can become extremely intoxicated after using large amounts of both.
Alcohol greatly increases the sedative effects of buspirone. Likewise, this medication also makes alcohol more potent. The usual symptoms of drinking can become heightened. Mixing the two may also cause a person to get drunk very quickly. Even someone with a high tolerance might begin to feel overwhelmed.
Combining prescription medications with alcohol is always dangerous. Severe cases of buspirone and alcohol abuse may lead to an overdose, coma, or death. Such situations can be easily avoided through education. It’s important to understand how Buspar and alcohol affect the body. Even without drinking excessively, there could be terrible consequences.
Other side effects caused by mixing Buspar and alcohol include:
- Severe headaches
- Excessive sleepiness and insomnia
- Agitation and aggression
- Chest pains
- Heart problems
- Nasal congestion
- Blurred vision
- Heavy appetite
- Increased urination
Methods of Buspar Abuse
Patients prescribed Buspar usually begin with a dose of 7.5 mg, twice a day. Maximum dosage should not exceed 60 mg per day. A quick Google search shows that recreational users suggest taking between 5 – 20 mg at a time. It depends on the person and their tolerance level.
Additional doses are often taken throughout the day. These are meant to maintain the high. Some take the pills whole. Others like to “parachute” them. Parachuting is done using crushed pills. The powder is wrapped inside tissue paper and swallowed. This is said to result in a faster, stronger high.
Many choose to snort buspirone. This is done by grinding or crushing pills into a fine powder. The powder is inhaled through the nose. Snorting is also said to cause a fast and intense high. It allows the drug to enter the bloodstream very quickly. However, there is a large downside. This method can make forming a habit more likely. Also, some people who have tried snorting Buspar advise against it. Many report experiencing “brain zaps”. They say this feels like multiple electric shocks to the brain.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Buspar Abuse?
The side effects of buspirone are made even worse when this drug is abused. Additional symptoms caused by abuse include hallucinations, memory loss and cognitive impairment.
Some side effects of Buspar include:
- Clamminess or sweating
- Feeling tired
- Blurred vision
- Trouble with concentrating
- Anger or hostility
- Dryness of the mouth
- Upset stomach
- Stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Ringing in the ears
- Unusual excitement
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
Rare side effects that should be checked by a doctor include:
- Chest pain
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Muscle pain, spasms, cramps or stiffness
- Mental depression
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness, tingling, pain or weakness in hands or feet
- Skin rash or hives
- Stiffness of the arms or legs
- Uncontrolled body movements
Can Someone Become Addicted to Buspar?
The short answer is yes, they can. Even patients using it as prescribed can become addicted. Unlike benzodiazepines like Xanax, Buspar doesn’t have an immediate effect on anxiety. Patients may have to wait several weeks before seeing an improvement. Often, many will have to switch to a higher dose.
With continued use, small amounts of the chemicals in buspirone will remain in the body. Over time, these chemicals begin to build up. As a result, long-term users can develop a tolerance to the medication. If a patient using Buspar suddenly stops, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. This means that they have become physically dependent on it. Abusing the drug makes this even more likely.
A psychological dependence is also possible. Buspirone is generally used to help patients deal with everyday life. If it works for them, the relief can be life-changing. Patients may become unable to function without it. Unfortunately, a tolerance can also make the effects of Buspar less noticeable over time. This can lead to self-medicating with larger doses than prescribed. It can also cause users to abuse other drugs in order to cope.
Buspar Withdrawal and What to Expect
Suddenly discontinuing this medication can result in difficult withdrawal symptoms. This is the result of a physical dependence. It can be incredibly tough to overcome. Those who take buspirone may have a very hard time stopping. Some may decide to continue with it even when they don’t want to.
The withdrawal process can be very painful. Serious damage to the body is possible without medical supervision. Internal organs can even come to permanent harm. Remember, attempting to withdraw on your own is never necessary. There are always people who are willing to help. In the long run, it is much safer to accept assistance.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with Buspar can include, but are not limited to:
- Aches and pains
- Blurred vision
- Body vibrations
- Flu-like symptoms
- Food aversion
- Hair loss
- Heart palpitations
- Heavy limbs
- Loss of balance
- Metallic taste
- Muscle spasms
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
Are You Addicted to Buspar?
You may not be sure if you’ve reached the stage of addiction. It may help to consider the common physical and psychological signs.
The signs of addiction can include:
- Feeling ill as the drug begins to wear off
- Sleeping problems such as insomnia, always feeling tired, and nightmares
- Abandoning hobbies, activities, and responsibilities you normally wouldn’t
- Lying and hiding things from the people you trust and love
- Trying and failing repeatedly to quit
- Becoming anxious at the thought of running out
- Constantly thinking about the drug
- Frequently slurring your speech
- Eyes that are watery or bloodshot
- Showing less interest in grooming and appearance
What Are the Treatment Options for a Buspar Addiction?
Detox is usually the first stage of treatment for an addiction to prescription medication. It is helps to safely remove drugs from the body. This process should always be done with medical assistance. Post-detox, there are many options available. Looking into inpatient, outpatient or residential treatment is a very good idea.
Inpatient treatment centers are helpful in cases of serious addiction. These are best for individuals who need intensive care. They offer a comfortable place for people to work through their issues. Everything is taken care of, so patients can focus on themselves.
Residential treatment centers offer plenty of time to concentrate on recovery. They provide many services, including constant medical supervision. Patients are given a very structured environment. These centers offer family therapy, nutritional recommendations and more.
Outpatient treatment centers can help prevent a full-blown addiction. They are the best option in early stages. These are also useful as a recovery tool post-detox or after inpatient treatment. Patients are able to live at home and travel to their appointments.
Having a good support network is crucial to a successful recovery. It’s a great idea to look for a therapist, counselor, or someone you can talk to. Support groups can be helpful, as well. They’re a great reminder that you’re not alone. Cutting out bad influences is also very important. The people in your life should be respectful of your choices. Leading a drug-free life may seem impossible now, but the journey toward happiness and health can begin whenever you choose.