Buspar (Buspirone) Abuse And Addiction Treatment
Buspar or buspirone is a relatively new anti-anxiety medicine that has been lauded for its low risk of addiction and its effectiveness as a medical treatment. However, there is still a chance that buspirone may be used improperly or even abused. The reasons for this abuse vary, which is why, if you or a loved one use buspirone, it is important to fully understand this substance and its abuse and addiction treatment methods.
The Proper Use Of Buspirone
Buspirone is used to treat severe cases of anxiety by restoring the proper chemical balance to a person’s mind. It is not a benzodiazepine, which means it does not cause any kind of elated high, but simply calms the mind and eliminates symptoms of fear, irritability, paranoid thoughts, pounding heart beat, and other negative symptoms of anxiety. It is not designed as an anti-psychotic medicine and should not be used with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as a dangerous, and potentially deadly, reaction could occur.
While buspirone can cause a variety of side effects, including chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and dizziness, it has been heralded by many medical outlets as a superior anti-anxiety option when compared to benzodiazepine-based medicines. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine entitled “Buspirone: Review Of Its Pharmacology And Current Perspectives On Its Mechanism Of Action,” praised it, saying:
“The mechanism of action of buspirone challenges the notion that only one neurotransmitter mediates anxiety. The interaction with multiple neurotransmitters at multiple brain sites suggests that buspirone may alter diverse activities within a “neural matrix of anxiety.” In contrast to the benzodiazepines, buspirone orchestrates activity within this neural matrix to achieve effective treatment of anxiety while preserving arousal and attentional processes.”
In layman’s terms, they are saying that buspirone has the capacity to more effectively treat anxiety in certain manners, compared to benzodiazepine medicines, as it treats multiple neurotransmitters, rather than just one. What they don’t discuss in this article is whether or not buspirone is highly addictive or if its potential for addiction is minimal.
Addiction Potential Is Rather Low
Several studies have assessed the addictive potential of buspirone and have all come to the same conclusion: addiction potential is low. In one study, entitled “Assessment Of The Abuse Liability Of Buspirone In Recreational Sedative Users,” it was concluded that “Overall, buspirone at 40 mg appeared unlikely to be reinforcing to recreational illicit drug users; the 10 mg dose was not discriminable from placebo or 10 mg diazepam.”
The conclusion drawn from this study is that buspirone does not create a euphoric feeling when used, unlike some other anti-anxiety medicines. As a result, those who are searching for that effect are unlikely to be satisfied with the calming effects of buspirone. It also doesn’t appear to operate on any kind of opiate receptors or anything of that nature, making physical addiction even less likely.
Another study, “Abuse Potential Of Buspirone And Related Drugs” put it more succinctly: “Available evidence suggests that the azapirones buspirone and gepirone have little, if any, potential for abuse.” However, even a low potential for abuse doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t abusing it. In fact, a variety of anecdotal reports seem to indicate that buspirone, though not a commonly abused substance, is occasionally used improperly in a dangerous way.
Why Buspirone May Be Abused
If buspirone does not cause euphoria, why would anyone want to abuse it? One reason is to achieve an extreme sedative state that eliminates negative anxiety symptoms. Taking a greater amount of buspirone than prescribed will increase its effects, often to potentially dangerous levels. Side effects of buspirone abuse include hallucinations, nausea, memory loss, lack of coordination, fatigue, trouble staying awake, sluggishness, cognitive impairment, and other severe problems.
Another reason that buspirone may be abused is to decrease the severity of opioid withdrawal. Studies have shown a degree of promise with using buspirone to decrease symptom severity. Someone who is trying to quit using opioid drugs may turn to buspirone as an inexpensive way to manage their withdrawal symptoms. You should never try to moderate any disorders or symptoms on your own. This self-medication is implicated in many instances of substance abuse, and though the potential isn’t as high, it still exists for buspirone.
While this application may be useful if buspirone is used as a way to beat addiction, it is less useful if it is used as a temporary replacement medicine until more opioids can be used. Either instance increases the potential for risk if undergone without the guidance of a trained addiction specialist.
One of the major reasons that buspirone may be abused is the effect it has when combined with alcohol. These effects can create a potent “high” or state of drunkenness, one that cannot be achieved by using either substance by itself.
Negative Effects Of Mixing With Alcohol
As mentioned above, mixing buspirone with alcohol exacerbates the effects of each. This means that the sedative effects of buspirone will be higher than normal and the side effects associated with drinking alcohol will also be higher. This can cause a person to get drunk more quickly than normal. Other side
effects caused by combining these two substance include:
- Severe headaches
- Excessive sleepiness or insomnia
- Agitation and aggression
- Pain in the chest (heart problems)
- Nasal congestion
- Blurred vision
- Vomiting or anorexia
- Heavy appetite
- Increased urination
- Heightened risk of overdose
- Unconsciousness and death
The last symptoms on this list are only common in very severe cases of concurrent buspirone and alcohol abuse. These cases may occur when a person doesn’t quite understand the impact of buspirone on their system and subsequently attempts to consume amounts of alcohol which they can normally handle. This may cause overdose symptoms that lead to unconsciousness, coma, and even death.
However, one abuse contributor that is very rarely discussed with buspirone is withdrawal. Though not severely addictive like other anti-anxiety medicines, it is possible to suffer from buspirone withdrawal.
Halting buspirone use suddenly may cause several withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, agitation, insomnia, tremors, cramps, fevers, and in severe cases, seizures. As a result, some may abuse buspirone simply to avoid these withdrawal symptoms. While they are typically not as severe as those associated with other anti-anxiety medicines, they may be agitating enough to cause a person to continue using.
So while buspirone abuse and addiction aren’t common, they can still occur. When they do, it can be a devastating situation for anyone to overcome. Though management of abuse symptoms may be possible by yourself or even through a personal doctor, professional treatment for buspirone abuse may be the best option. Remember, attempting to treat a disorder or condition on your own can put you in a position where you might experience unnecessary and even harmful risk. Treating addition is not as simple as taking a pill—in many instances, medication reaches its maximum efficacy only when paired with the guidance of a person that specializes in addition medicine.
Treating Buspirone Abuse
If you are interested in getting treated for buspirone abuse, it is important to understand what to expect during treatment. Addictions vary depending on the person and the substance they are using. As a result, your treatment method may be different than what you were expecting. However, all treatment methods will be fine-tuned to your personal needs to ensure that you come out of rehab clean of buspirone. The first step involved is managing your withdrawal symptoms.
As mentioned previously, buspirone has an extremely small measure of risk towards physical addiction. However, its withdrawal effects do need to be managed by a skillfully administered medical taper. This process involves slowly decreasing your doses of buspirone to make sure your body doesn’t fall into withdrawal. As withdrawal from buspirone isn’t severe and is typically harder to trigger than with other substances, this should take only a week or two.
After your withdrawal symptoms have been managed, psychological assessment will be undertaken to decide why you were abusing buspirone and what can be done about it. If you were using buspirone concurrently with substantial use of these drugs, you may also have to go through withdraw from them and begin a treatment program that manages their addiction.
If you were using it to manage opioid withdrawal, or pairing it with alcohol, you will likely need addiction treatment for these concerns. However, if you were using buspirone without these substances, your treatment will focus solely on treating buspirone abuse. Buspirone abuse is rarely a singular problem, and is typically concurrent with these substances. While not as likely as concurrent abuse, it still occurs and needs to be addressed.
To manage addiction, you will need to go through a variety of psychological and behavioral treatments. As buspirone use and abuse is typically fueled by anxiety, new treatment methods for that problem will have to be devised. For example, you may be prescribed a new anti-anxiety medicine or learn natural relaxation methods to eliminate the severity of your symptoms. Learning how to calm your mind without the use of a medicine may go a long way towards treating your abuse symptoms.
That said, if your doctor still thinks that buspirone is your best treatment option, you will have to undergo behavioral adjustment techniques to help eliminate the patterns of action that contributed to the abuse. Though these types of treatments (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) may also be utilized if you don’t continue taking buspirone, they are essential if you will continue to use it. They will help you learn how to avoid using too much buspirone and help you to identify abuse triggers (such as friends or stressful situations) that have contributed to abuse in the past.
Though they might not be strictly necessary in the case of buspirone abuse, aftercare treatments may still be useful if you continue to suffer from anxiety or the urge to use. Sobriety groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, are a powerful way to support your recovery and help yourself get through the relapse cravings that can occur with any substance. Once you no longer feel cravings, it will be easier for you to focus on a life of happiness and sobriety.
Beating Buspirone Abuse For Good
If you or someone you love would benefit from buspirone abuse treatment, please contact us today at RehabCenter.net. Our panel of skilled experts fully understand what you are going through, and want to help you find the treatment that you deserve to break out of the bonds of addiction. Let us help you.
Drugs.com – Buspirone
Mayo Clinic – Buspirone Side Effects
The American Journal of Medicine – Buspirone: Review Of Its Pharmacology And Current Perspectives On Its Mechanism Of Action
National Center For Biotechnology Information – Assessment Of The Abuse Liability of Buspirone In Recreational Sedative Users
National Center For Biotechnology Information – Abuse Potential Of Buspirone And Related Drugs
Everyday Health – Buspirone
National Center For Biotechnology Information – Efficacy Of Buspirone In The Treatment Of Opioid Withdrawal
National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism – Harmful Interactions Mixing Alcohol With Medicines
U.S. National Library Of Medicine – Buspirone
Australian Government Department Of Health – Buspar
Electronic Medicines Compendium – Buspirone 10mg Tablets
New York Times – Health: Anxiety Treatment; Publicized Tranquilizer Getting Mixed Reviews