Using Buspirone with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?
Dr. Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D.
Buspirone is a prescription medication that is FDA-approved to treat anxiety in adults. With millions of adults using buspirone to treat their mental health conditions, many are wondering if using buspirone with alcohol is safe.
What is buspirone?
Buspirone is a generic prescription medication that is not currently available as a brand-name drug. It was formerly available under the brand-name Buspar.
The medication belongs to a class of drugs called anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety medications, and it is most commonly used for the treatment of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Buspirone is not related to any other anti-anxiety medications, and there is much that is not yet understood about how buspirone works.
However, researchers believe that buspirone works by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain. Buspirone is often used in combination with other medications for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Your healthcare provider can determine the correct dose based on your needs.
Buspirone comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg capsules. Certain negative drug interactions can occur while taking buspirone, and buspirone should not be prescribed if a patient has used monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) within the past 14 days. Because buspirone has a lower potential for misuse than other anxiolytics, it is often prescribed for long-term use. It typically takes three to four weeks of regular use before patients start to feel the full effects of buspirone.
What are the risks of using buspirone with alcohol?
Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that works by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Although most people don’t think of alcohol as a drug, the fact is that alcohol is a drug like buspirone and has its own effects on the body’s function.
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that also slows the activity of the neurological system, including the activity of the brain. Using buspirone with alcohol causes the effects of both substances to be magnified, which can cause dangerous side effects.
What side effects can occur when using buspirone with alcohol?
Using buspirone with alcohol is associated with dangerous side effects because both substances act as drugs in the body, having specific effects on the body’s systems.
Using buspirone with alcohol causes the alcohol to exacerbate side effects of buspirone, which can make it difficult to function normally. Side effects of buspirone alone include changes in weight or appetite, mild nasal congestion, and nausea or upset stomach.
Common side effects of using buspirone with alcohol include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Using buspirone with alcohol can also cause more serious side effects that can be potentially life-threatening depending on the amount of each substance that is consumed.
Potentially serious side effects include:
- Slowed breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Impaired muscle control
- Memory problems
These side effects are particularly dangerous because they can lead to oxygen deprivation, falls, serious injuries, and an increased risk of making poor decisions, such as driving under the influence. Immediately seek medical assistance if you begin showing any of these serious side effects.
While alcohol may make you feel relaxed at first or cause a temporary decrease in your anxiety symptoms, after the effects wear off, your anxiety may feel even worse. People who use alcohol as a way to reduce their anxiety may find that they require more and more of the substance to achieve the same effects and may find that alcohol is less able to reduce their feelings of anxiety over time.
Drinking heavily is associated with higher levels of anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness. Therefore, using buspirone with alcohol and drinking alcohol to excess when you have anxiety can make the symptoms of anxiety even worse.
Is using buspirone with alcohol ever safe?
Due to the potential for severe and dangerous side effects resulting from the combination of buspirone and alcohol, using buspirone with alcohol is never safe.
Combining the two substances enhances the effects of both drugs, which means that the side effects associated with both buspirone and alcohol are more likely to occur and are worse when they do occur.
The biggest risks associated with the combination of buspirone and alcohol include an increased risk of falls and injury.
Using buspirone with alcohol can be dangerous and should never be considered safe. Both buspirone and alcohol relax the body and diminish the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, so using the substances together can exacerbate the side effects of each.
Using buspirone with alcohol can cause unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, such as drowsiness, headache, and dizziness. The use of buspar can help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Rare side effects of buspirone include muscle cramps or spasms, stiffness, excessive tiredness or weakness, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat.
Seek medical attention immediately if any of these side effects occur.