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Is Buspirone (BuSpar) Addictive?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults yearly.[1] 

Anxiety disorders can be extremely difficult to cope with, often requiring medications to keep severe symptoms at bay. Unfortunately, many anxiety medications like benzodiazepines are habit-forming and addictive. Psychiatrists attempt to keep their patients safe by finding alternatives to benzodiazepine anxiety medications.

One of the common medications used as a replacement for benzodiazepines is known as buspirone (BuSpar). While this medication was thought to be less habit-forming than other anxiety medication options, more people are beginning to abuse it. 

Being aware of the risks and dangers of BuSpar abuse and addiction can help you or a loved one find the support you need.

What is Buspirone (BuSpar) Used For?

BuSpar is the brand name for buspirone, which is an anxiety medication that belongs to a class of drugs referred to as anxiolytics. It works by balancing the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain to regulate mood and relieve anxiety.[2]

While buspirone is primarily used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it might be used off-label to treat other conditions.

Other conditions that BuSpar might treat include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bruxism 
  • Autism 
  • Tardive dyskinesia 
  • Withdrawal 
  • PMS syndrome 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Tension headaches

While buspirone is highly effective in managing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and an array of other mental and physical health conditions, it has a propensity for abuse.

Is BuSpar Addictive?

While BuSpar is not as well-known as other anxiety medications like Xanax or Klonopin, internet forums prove that there is an upswing in buspirone abuse. People who abuse BuSpar take it in high doses to experience sensations of euphoria and relaxation. Oftentimes, this medication is crushed up and snorted or mixed with alcohol to create a more potent effect. 

While buspirone can get you high, abusing it can be dangerous. Because of the way it affects serotonin and dopamine, it is easy to become addicted to buspirone. After repeated abuse, your brain will begin to associate the substance with reward and pleasure.

Over time, you will develop a tolerance to BuSpar if you are abusing it. This means the dosage you are used to taking will not cause the effects you are seeking, causing you to continuously increase the amount of buspirone you take. Unfortunately, this can be extremely dangerous, as taking high doses of BuSpar can lead to an overdose.

Signs of BuSpar Abuse 

If someone you love is abusing their buspirone, there are several signs to look for. If they have a prescription for buspirone, you might notice that they are running out of their medication early. As a result, they may begin to visit multiple doctor’s offices to receive more than one prescription of the substance at a time. 

Other signs of BuSpar abuse include the physical side effects of the medication. When someone is abusing the substance, the side effects may become more pronounced.

Common side effects of BuSpar include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms

High doses of buspirone can cause symptoms like hallucinations and seizures. Additionally, BuSpar abuse may result in an overdose. If someone you know is experiencing an overdose, you must contact emergency medical services immediately.

Symptoms of a buspirone overdose include:[3]

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Severe drowsiness 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Small pinpointed pupils
  • Seizures 

Risks of BuSpar Withdrawal

When you become addicted to buspirone, your brain and body begin to rely on the substance to function properly, so if you suddenly stop taking BuSpar you will experience symptoms of withdrawal. If you are addicted to buspirone, it’s important to attend a medical detox program before attempting to quit the medication. Quitting BuSpar cold turkey can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Symptoms of BuSpar withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia 
  • Lethargy
  • Severe drowsiness 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Blurred vision
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Agoraphobia 

The risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts during buspirone withdrawal is enough to warrant medical treatment. Additionally, the symptoms of buspirone withdrawal could cause you to relapse. Relapsing after a period of abstinence is dangerous, as you may attempt to take the dosage you abused when you had a tolerance, leading to an accidental overdose.

Find Help for BuSpar Abuse and Addiction Today

If you or a loved one suffer from BuSpar addiction, Mandala Healing Center is here to help. With a combination of evidence-based therapies, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning, we can provide you with everything you need to achieve long-term recovery. Even further, we can help you find an alternative anxiety medication to replace buspirone if you were using the substance to treat your mental health condition. 

By trusting the experts at Mandala Healing Center, you can rest assured you will receive the highest standard of substance abuse care. To learn more about our detox and addiction treatment program, contact Mandala Healing Center today.