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Buspar: Your Not So Innocent Anti-Anxiety Med

People suffering from anxiety are sometimes given the anti-anxiety medication Buspar or buspirone. Many consider it to be a low risk for addiction and it is believed to be very effective. But this is not the entire truth about the drug. Just like a lot of prescription medications, it is susceptible to misuse and abuse. It is necessary to be educated about this drug if you or a loved one is taking it. A better understanding of Buspar can reduce the chance of addiction.

What exactly is Buspirone HCL?

Buspirone hydrochloride, which is the generic form of Buspar, is classified by the FDA as an anxiolytic. It is a white tablet that comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg, which is meant to be taken twice or thrice a day. It can even be split in half. It is not related to barbiturates or benzodiazepines and is prescribed to treat symptoms of severe anxiety. It is periodically used to treat patients who have both depression and anxiety. While it cannot be established how exactly the medicine works, it is believed to affect specific chemicals – dopamine and serotonin – in the brain.

Buspar is often prescribed to patients who have a difficult time coping with life. It helps ease worried thoughts and clear the mind. It works by encouraging relaxation as it supposedly improves irritability and jitters. Pounding heartbeat, sleeping problems, and sweating may also get better, too.

Other Conditions

Healthcare providers also give buspirone for other conditions, but its effectiveness to treat these situations has not yet been proven. Among its off-label uses include the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Substance abuse and drug withdrawal
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Aggressive behavior and hyperactivity in children with autism
  • Tardive dyskinesia 

Is Buspar Susceptible to Abuse?

There are opposing opinions on whether Buspar can be abused or not. There are those who claim that addiction is not a concern for this drug because it is not a benzodiazepine. However, there are other experts and doctors who disagree as they claim that it is a habit-forming drug due to its mild sedation effect.

There is currently much interest in buspirone as many people wonder if this is the same as Xanax. Others who have tried it say the drug has no recreational value. Yet there are also some who have had a different experience. They claim to have experienced a high that lasted for about 30 minutes. Its effects seem to differ from one user to another. Many describe the effects as similar to being sedated while there are also some who claim that the buzz is similar to speed.

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Why is Buspar Abused?

Unlike other medications such as Xanax that cause feelings of euphoria, Buspar does not offer these kinds of feelings. Why then is this medication abused? The main reason is the drug’s sedative effects. Abusing Buspar can lead to a state of extreme sedation. Individuals trying to cope with anxiety might prompt this by ingesting large doses at a time. As the doses grow higher, people taking the drug become more and more sedated. This offers temporary, but definitely dangerous, relief from the symptoms they are experiencing.

Buspirone abuse also happens among users who are trying to mitigate symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The drug has been proven effective for this purpose. A lot of medications work well when utilized for off-label reasons, but this should not be decided without medical advice. It is crucial to consult a doctor first. Even with this warning, some look at Buspar as an economical way of dealing with withdrawal symptoms. It is typical among substance abusers to engage in self-medication.

Are Xanax and Buspar the Same?

Xanax and Buspar are very different drugs. Yes, they are both used to treat anxiety. They are given to patients who are suffering from different kinds of anxiety disorders. However, Xanax is a benzodiazepine while Buspar is an anxiolytic medication. Medical professionals consider benzodiazepines as quite addictive. Meanwhile, anxiolytics are believed to be lower-risk.

Buspar is usually given to individuals with a history of addiction as a lot of doctors will refuse to prescribe benzodiazepines in those situations. It is also a known fact in the medical community that many doctors are not that comfortable prescribing Xanax for long-term use. While Buspar and other drugs similar to it are taken daily, Xanax is to be given only as-needed. Thus, it is often used to treat panic attacks.

Among its other differences are the following:

  • Xanax works very fast. However, it is most likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. It is also vulnerable to interacting with other medications.
  • Compared to Xanax, Buspar is less habit-forming. However, it will take quite some time for it to work. Its effects may also wear off over time.
  • Users of Xanax have complained of dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, and even memory problems.
  • Unlike Xanax, Buspar is not that effective in treating panic attacks and short-term anxiety.
  • Xanax comes in pill, liquid, extended release, and dissolving tablet form. Buspar only comes in pill form. But both medicines can be bought as a generic.
  • People with liver problems will greatly benefit from using Buspar. Xanax is processed by the liver which will put the organ under extra stress.

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Side Effects of Buspar Abuse

Abusing the drug can lead to hallucinations, cognitive impairment, and memory loss. Its other side effects include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Blurred Vision
  • A sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Insomnia

It also has rare side effects, such as:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mental depression
  • Incoordination
  • Skin rash
  • Uncontrolled body movements

Can a Person be Addicted to Buspar?

Yes, even among patients using it as prescribed. Since it takes quite some time to have an effect on anxiety, people usually switch to a higher dose.

Continuously using it in small amounts over a period of time will lead to chemical build up which may result in tolerance to the medicine. Patients who suddenly stop using Buspar will experience withdrawal symptoms, which exhibits dependence to the drug.

Psychological dependence is also a possibility since the drug helps them deal with everyday life. There are those who will no longer be able to function without taking it. Sadly, tolerance makes the drug’s effect less noticeable. This will result in self-medicating to higher doses as well as
abuse of other drugs just to cope.

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Withdrawal of Buspar – What You Can Expect

People taking buspirone may find it hard to stop using so they continue to take it even if they do not want to. The process of withdrawal can be quite painful. It can lead to a serious damage if done without medical supervision.

Among the withdrawal symptoms of Buspar are:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Agoraphobia
  • Food aversion
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hair loss
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Heavy Limbs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Metallic taste
  • Nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

Help is Available

Treatment options are available to help with addiction. Inpatient treatment is best for those with a serious addiction. Intensive care in a comfortable place is provided. Everything is taken care of, so the patients can just focus on their recovery.

Get in touch with us today to know more about your options.