Buspar and Alcohol

What is Buspar?

Buspar is the brand name of the FDA-approved prescription medication, Buspirone. While Buspar has been discontinued in the United States, Buspirone is still available as a generic drug. It treats the symptoms of different anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), as well as short-term anxiety symptoms. 

Buspirone is considered an effective medication in the treatment of anxiety and may also be used along with antidepressants to treat depression.

Buspar

Buspar belongs to a class of medications called anti-anxiety agents, anxiolytics, and nonbenzodiazepines. It works by altering the amounts of specific natural substances in the central nervous system, such as dopamine and serotonin.

Here are some symptoms of anxiety that Buspirone can treat:

  • High blood pressure
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blanking mind
  • Extreme irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Sleep difficulties such as insomnia, trouble staying asleep, or unsatisfying sleep

Because each Buspirone prescription varies depending on patients’ needs, consult your doctor and pharmacist about how much and how frequently you should take Buspirone. Never take it more or more often than prescribed.

Side Effects of Buspar

While Buspar is no longer available in the United States, generic Buspirone is. And, though Buspirone can treat anxiety, it may also have some adverse effects. Some of the side effects of Buspirone include but are not limited to the following:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of nervousness or excitement
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath

Seek medical advice from your healthcare provider if serious side effects worsen with your Buspirone prescription.

Is Buspar Addictive?

Studies show that Buspar does not have the same withdrawal symptoms as other anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. This is because people do not develop a tolerance to Buspar with long-term use of the drug, which would otherwise lead them to wanting and needing more to achieve the same desired effects.

Buspar has been discontinued in the United States. Therefore, your doctor will prescribe you a different, generic form of Buspirone. Generic Buspirone is not deemed addictive, either.

Can You Mix Buspar and Alcohol?

As with many prescription medications, alcohol and substance use can decrease the benefits of your prescription and increase the adverse side effects of the medication, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. Depending on the prescription drug, alcohol can make the medication less effective (or even useless), or it can make the medication toxic to your body.

It is not considered safe to mix prescription medications like Buspirone with alcohol. You should avoid consuming alcohol while taking Buspirone.

It’s important to consult your doctor about alcohol use before taking any prescription medication. Your doctor may be able to prescribe you a different medication that does not interact as negatively with alcohol, or they may recommend alternative forms of treatment for your anxiety.

Side Effects of Mixing Buspar with Alcohol

Buspar is no longer available in the United States. Mixing generic Buspirone with alcohol (like other drug interactions) can increase certain side effects associated with both the use of alcohol and the medication. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Impaired motor control
  • Memory loss

If you or someone you know is experiencing side effects of mixing Buspirone and alcohol, contact your medical care center immediately. 

Risks & Dangers of Mixing Buspar and Alcohol

The danger of drinking alcohol with Buspar is that Buspar already poses the risk of adverse side effects — some worse than others. When you consume alcohol, which can also make you feel negative side effects, you increase your chances of feeling those side effects. You may also worsen those side effects with alcohol impairment.

Drinking alcohol while taking prescription medications like Buspirone can also put you at a higher risk for internal bleeding, heart complications, and difficulties with breathing. The risks may range from uncomfortable to dangerous.

Treatment Options for Buspar & Alcohol Abuse

If you or someone you know is struggling with Buspar and alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or alcohol cravings while taking Buspar, reach out to your healthcare provider. Treatment options, such as the following, are available:

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD).

Inpatient Rehab Centers

Inpatient rehabilitation centers exist to help people who are struggling with alcohol and/or substance abuse. Whether you are misusing your prescription medication, alcohol, or both, checking into an inpatient facility can give you the medical and psychological support, resources, and network you need to get yourself healthy again. 

Outpatient Rehab Centers

If inpatient treatment isn’t right for you, there are also outpatient rehab centers. You get the same medical and psychological attention as you would in an inpatient facility, but you do not live in the facility. Instead, you visit for regular appointments and follow the rehab program on your own.

Counseling (Traditional Talk Therapy)

Traditional talk therapy can help you to unpack any triggers that entice you to abuse alcohol, your prescription medication, or both. By processing any mental or emotional baggage that’s consciously or subconsciously weighing on you, you’ll have more awareness, stability, and energy to quit your addiction.

Remember that help is available, and you don’t have to go through treatment alone. It’s important not to cut yourself off cold turkey, either, because withdrawal symptoms can be serious. Working with a professional can make a big difference in your recovery journey.

Resources

“Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

“Buspar (Buspirone): Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Interactions, Warning.” RxList, RxList, 8 June 2020, www.rxlist.com/buspar-drug.htm

“Buspirone (BuSpar).” NAMI, www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Buspirone-(BuSpar)

“Buspirone: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a688005.html.

Carskadon, MA., et al. “Effects of Alprazolam, Buspirone and Diazepam on Daytime Sedation and Performance.” Clinical Drug Investigation, Springer International Publishing, 1 Jan. 1982, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03259556.

Cohn, J., et al. “Buspirone vs Alprazolam: A Double-Blind Comparative Study of Their Efficacy, Adverse Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms.” Clinical Drug Investigation, Springer International Publishing, 1 Jan. 1987, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03259411.

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Updated on: November 22, 2020
Author
AnnaMarie Houlis
About
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Medically Reviewed
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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