Buspirone and Alcohol: Drinking on Anxiety Medication

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Buspirone and Alcohol: Drinking on Anxiety Medication

Many people with anxiety and panic disorders drink alcohol to manage their symptoms, which often results in alcohol use disorder. People who already take anti-anxiety medications may still drink alcohol despite the possible consequences. Today we’re looking into the effects of mixing buspirone and alcohol and how to recover. 

What Is Buspirone and How Does It Work?

Also known as BuSpar, buspirone is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety, particularly generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Buspirone is available as a tablet and is usually taken twice daily. 

Buspirone or BuSpar works by impacting neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. BuSpar is specifically a serotonin receptor agonist, meaning that its mechanism of action is to increase serotonin levels in the brain to manage symptoms of anxiety, like mood, panic, elevated breathing, and rapid heart rate. 

In addition to desired effects, such as reduced anxiety symptoms, other common side effects of BuSpar include: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping

Not only does BuSpar stimulate the release of serotonin, but it also inhibits the brain from reabsorbing the excess, causing a flood of serotonin. Although buspirone is fairly safe to use when taken exactly as prescribed, taking higher doses of it than directed or mixing it with other antidepressants, anxiety medications, and depressants can increase the risk of a condition called serotonin syndrome. 

Can You Drink Alcohol on Buspirone?

No, you cannot drink buspirone with alcohol. On its own, buspirone can cause drowsiness and dizziness, as well as other changes in brain function due to its impact on serotonin receptors. 

When combined with alcohol, buspirone effects can become more severe. The medication’s efficacy in treating anxiety symptoms can also be impaired by alcohol’s effects on the central nervous system, as well. 

Buspirone Interactions With Alcohol

A buspirone alcohol interaction can become severe depending on the amount of either substance consumed. There is no safe way to consume BuSpar and alcohol together, so it should be avoided at all costs. 

The main danger in this combination is central nervous system depression. Because both substances slow down important functions like breathing, heart rate, and thinking, a BuSpar alcohol interaction can lead to severe impairment of various functions of the mind and body. 

Common buspirone and alcohol side effects include:

  • Increased drowsiness and sedation
  • Upset stomach and abdominal pain
  • Severe headache 
  • Severe fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired judgment and trouble concentrating

The use of alcohol with BuSpar exacerbates the medication’s side effects, making it react more severely in the nervous system. What’s more, alcohol can also impair the medication’s ability to alleviate the person’s symptoms. 

As a result, the user may feel as if their medication isn’t working and may take more doses to experience relief. This increases the risk of overdose and other severe reactions. 

Both BuSpar and alcohol are also addictive when abused for long periods. Combining the two is a form of substance abuse that increases the likelihood not only of overdose and immediate negative interactions but also long-term consequences like dependence and addiction.

If you’ve been prescribed this medication and you’re wondering whether you can take buspirone with alcohol, speak to your doctor first. Always be sure to speak to your doctor about any possible drug interactions and to take your prescription drugs exactly as prescribed to prevent dependence, addiction, and overdose. 

Help for BuSpar and Alcohol Abuse 

Many people with anxiety disorders and other forms of mental illness may drink to relax and escape from their symptoms. But when the alcohol wears off, these symptoms come back with full force.

This leads to the continuous desire to drink until they’ve become dependent on alcohol to feel normal. The risk of developing an addiction to alcohol is further increased when it’s combined with anti-anxiety medications like BuSpar. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem, our drug and alcohol treatment center in Palm Beach can help. At BHOPB, we offer both addiction and mental health treatment services for patients who are addicted to illicit and prescription drugs or require care for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and more. 

Addiction often co-occurs with mental illness, which is why we also offer dual diagnosis treatment for those who require a level of care that addresses both of their conditions. For more information about our addiction and mental health treatment programs in Palm Beach, call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981.

Related Reading: 

Alcohol-Induced Pancreatitis: Symptoms and Causes
The Relationship Between Gambling and Alcoholism


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