Buspirone is an anxiolytic medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders and sometimes to treat premenstrual syndrome.

Buspirone Basics

The medication comes in tablet form and can be taken two to three times a day to manage symptoms. It was sold under the brand name BuSpar but is now only available in generic versions, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Buspirone is taken as an ongoing medication to treat anxiety disorders and may need to be taken regularly for three to four weeks before the full effects of the medication are felt. It works by acting on both the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain to reduce anxiety and produce a calming effect. It is a safe and effective medication when used as directed.

Some researchers have begun to investigate the possible use of buspirone as a pharmacological treatment for marijuana use disorder, but this has not been approved yet by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose.

In other research, studies have found that buspirone can help to reduce cocaine use. It is, therefore, being considered as a possible pharmacological intervention for people who abuse cocaine.

Can Buspirone be Abused?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that buspirone has a lower abuse potential than other anti-anxiety medications, making it a good option for people who have a history of addiction but need medication to manage their anxiety.

Some people may try to abuse buspirone by taking more than the recommended dosage or by attempting to crush and snort the pills or smoke the crushed grains. People who abuse other sedative or benzodiazepines medications are at high risk for abusing buspirone, as they may believe that they can achieve a similar sedative effect when abusing the medication as with other similar anti-anxiety medications.

However, buspirone is not a benzodiazepine-like many other anti-anxiety medications, so there is less risk to develop a dependency. It does not produce the same kind of sedative effect as other anti-anxiety medications.

Nevertheless, taking buspirone in ways other than prescribed, including taking more of the medication than the prescribed dosage or by other methods such as snorting or smoking it, is considered abuse.

Any time a medication is abused, there can be unintended side effects, including the risk of compulsive addictive behaviors. Sometimes people will abuse prescription medications they have available to them when they are not able to obtain their drugs of choice.

What Are The Risks of Buspirone?

Buspirone, like all medications, does have some side effects that could be exacerbated if the medication is being abused. The dosage a person is taking as well as their individual physiological response to the drug can affect the potential for side effects from using the medication.

Side Effects of Buspirone May Include The Following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Weight changes
  • Insomnia
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blurred vision
  • Uncontrolled motor tics in the head or neck

The risk of these side effects occurring increases if the drug is being abused.

Abusing buspirone could also result in an overdose. An overdose on buspirone can be recognized if a person is experiencing vomiting, dizziness, over sedation, or blurred vision. If anyone who has taken buspirone experiences these symptoms, medical attention is needed.

What Are The Signs of Addiction?

While buspirone is not a commonly abused drug in the U.S., prescription drug misuse is very common. According to NIDA, the number of emergency room visits related to prescription drug abuse has risen over the past 15 years, contributing to the increase in overdose deaths and inpatient treatment admissions for prescription drug abuse.

If someone is taking more than the prescribed dose of buspirone, they may be abusing the drug. If someone is frequently running out of their medication before their prescription is due for a refill, it is another sign that someone is abusing the drug.

What is The Detox Process From Buspirone Like?

The detox process from buspirone involves tapering the medication down solely over the course of two to seven days, depending on the individual’s level of dependency. Withdrawal symptoms may be managed with other medications.

If a person has been on buspirone for an extended period of time, they may have developed some physical dependency on the drug. Dependency is characterized by the presence of withdrawal symptoms when the medication is no longer available in the body.

Withdrawal symptoms from buspirone are similar to withdrawal symptoms from other anti-anxiety drugs.

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures

These symptoms may be more severe depending on the dosage of medication an individual has been taking and for how long they were taking the drug.

How is Addiction to This Drug Treated?

Addiction to buspirone is treated similarly to addiction to any drug.

Treatment starts with the detox process and involves working with a doctor to develop an appropriate medical detox process to address symptoms of withdrawal. Those seeking treatment for buspirone abuse will likely be tapered down slowly from the medication while withdrawal symptoms are addressed with other medications. Psychological support is also available around the clock during medical detox.

Addiction treatment does not end after detox is over. Treatment can be complicated because the process of dependency can change your brain in ways that may cause cravings for years after detox is over.

Your brain creates patterns that reinforce your behaviors based on the outcomes you experience from those behaviors. This includes pleasurable feelings that are triggered when you take medications intended to treat distressful symptoms like anxiety.

It can be difficult to change patterns that have been established in your brain that tell you that taking a drug will make you feel better. During active addiction, your brain had easy access to those pleasurable neurotransmitters that trigger good feelings. With those drugs no longer available to trigger those pleasurable feelings, people in recovery have to find other ways to experience pleasure and cope with stressful emotions and problems.

A good addiction recovery treatment plan will include addiction education, recovery support groups, individual and family therapy as needed, and a plan to cope with triggers and manage cravings.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders

When people have a diagnosed medical condition like anxiety, they may still need medication to help them manage their mental health condition, even in recovery from substance abuse issues. This presents a complex issue, and supervising physicians can best determine how to proceed.

A recovery plan will also take into consideration how mental health conditions like anxiety can be managed with medications that have a lower potential for abuse. Alternative approaches, such as meditation, may also be employed.

People can recover from addiction to buspirone. It is best accomplished with a good treatment plan that fully addresses all mental health needs and establishes a positive recovery support system.

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