Buspirone is a prescription medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders. It is meant to be used only for the short-term management of symptoms of anxiety. Occasionally, it is used to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
It works by calming the central nervous system, though it is not as strong as traditional anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines.
It is not safe to use buspirone recreationally.
How Buspirone Works
Buspirone belongs to the class of medications called azapirones, which are a unique group of anti-anxiety drugs. They provide therapeutic effects that are the same as common anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam, but they do not create such strong depressant effects on the central nervous system.
Buspirone does not interact as dangerously with other sedatives. It also does not have the same potential for impaired psychomotor and cognitive functioning, when used as medically intended.
Scientists explain that buspirone represents a significant advance in the pharmacological treatment options of anxiety. Physical dependence and the high risk of abuse that comes with benzodiazepine use are not likely to occur. Buspirone provides a safe and useful alternative to more traditional forms of anti-anxiety medications.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
It is common to experience a range of side effects when taking buspirone. In addition to relieving anxiety, the medication can have other effects on the body. As with any medication, it is important to make sure the benefits of taking the drug outweigh the potential negative side effects.
The side effects observed from taking buspirone range in severity from restlessness and muscle aches to irregular heartbeat and overdose. Side effects associated with buspirone use include:
- Restlessness and nervousness
- Unusual excitement
- Impaired concentration
- Blurred vision
- Sweating and clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Muscle aches, pains, spasms, and cramps
- Ringing sounds in ears
- Insomnia, nightmares, or vivid dreams
These side effects occur occasionally and do not typically require immediate medical attention, though they are worth speaking to a doctor about. Some of the symptoms may even resolve themselves as the body learns to tolerate buspirone better.
Other symptoms, however, are more severe and can even indicate an overdose. These symptoms require immediate medical attention:
- Chest pain
- Severe confusion
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Impaired coordination and muscle weakness
- Skin rash
- Sore throat
- Stiffness in the arms and legs
- Inability to control body movements
- Severe drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Upset stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constricted pupils
If you experience any concerning symptoms that are severe or fail to go away on their own while taking buspirone, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can help you determine the best course of action so that the symptoms do not get worse or cause any further complications.
How to Use Buspirone Without Abusing It
Because of the risk of misuse and experiencing adverse side effects, buspirone should only be used exactly as directed by a doctor. Taking it in greater quantities, more frequently, for a longer duration, or only to get high all indicate misuse of the drug.
It may take one to two weeks to feel the full effects of buspirone. If you’ve just started taking it, be patient with your dosage and allow the medication time to take effect before making any changes.
The dosage you are prescribed depends on many factors. The severity of your symptoms, your age, weight, and goals of treatment all affect how much of the drug you should be given.
In general, adults usually start out taking 7.5 milligrams twice a day. This amount can be increased, as needed, by your doctor. Daily doses, however, should never exceed 60 mg (milligrams).
The appropriateness of prescribing buspirone to children must be determined on an individual basis by your health care provider. Sticking to your dosage schedule as outlined by your doctor is the best way to use buspirone without abusing it.
Likewise, if you feel you are ready to stop taking buspirone, consult your doctor before you stop taking it. The doctor may wish to taper you off the medication to avoid the possibility of experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, though withdrawal symptoms from buspirone are rarely seen.
Is Buspirone Addictive?
Studies on the effects of buspirone on humans and animals have found no addictive potential for the drug. There hasn’t been any evidence of individuals developing a tolerance for or physical or psychological dependence on the medication.
In double-blind studies that evaluated the preferences of participants with a history of drug and alcohol use, the participants demonstrated no statistically significant preference for buspirone over the placebo medication. When other anti-anxiety medications were offered, such as methaqualone or diazepam, there was a clear and strong preference for these medications over the placebo.
In addition to the lack of preference for buspirone, which indicates a low risk for addiction, participants in the studies who were given buspirone regularly for an extended period did not demonstrate withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms indicate that a user has become dependent on a medication and is often a step on the road to addiction.
While studies suggest that buspirone is not addictive, health care professionals are still wary about overprescribing the drug. Buspirone works by making changes to the central nervous system, so it is very hard to predict how every individual will respond to it.
All doctors must carefully screen their patients for a history of drug misuse and follow all patients carefully to monitor for development of tolerance for the drug as well as any drug-seeking behaviors.
Recreational Use of Buspirone
Because buspirone is generally accepted to be nonaddictive, many people believe they can experiment with it recreationally without the same risks associated with other prescription medications like benzodiazepines and opioids.
Buspirone does not produce the same euphoric high that other prescription drugs do, so it is hard for some people to understand why it would be a drug considered for recreational use. People who use buspirone recreationally report enjoying the slight sedative effects it offers. Other people report not feeling many effects at all.
Every drug will affect each individual differently, however, so experimenting with buspirone to get high is still a dangerous thing to do.
People who experiment with buspirone may find they need a high dose of the drug to feel any sedative effects. If you don’t know how your body reacts to buspirone, you are putting yourself at risk for extreme sedation and possible overdose.
Buspirone and Alcohol
Alcohol is one of the most frequently used recreational substances that is mixed with other drugs. Like many combinations, mixing buspirone and alcohol is very dangerous. Both substances are central nervous system depressants and can have harmful effects on the body when mixed together. Both alcohol and buspirone can make you sleepy, drowsy, and lightheaded.
When used together, buspirone and alcohol can increase the severity of each other’s effects. If you are combining these substances, be aware of any signs of difficulty breathing, slowed breathing, impaired muscle control, and impairments in judgment and memory. Mixing these substances greatly increases your chances of overdose and the need for emergency medical care.
Safely Using Buspirone
Recreational use of any drug is never considered safe. Experimenting with medications in ways other than as prescribed by a doctor exposes you to negative side effects and unforeseen consequences.
If a doctor has prescribed buspirone to you, use it exactly as directed. If you haven’t been prescribed buspirone by a medical professional, do not take it. Recreational use can be dangerous.