Depression and anxiety are leading causes of mental health disorders and are associated with the increased risk of morbidity, mortality, poor quality of life. These and other risk factors that can drastically increase a person’s dependency on other substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol. In some instances, anxiety can drastically increase the severity of addiction as an ongoing disease, and mental health continues to impact Colorado’s youth and the general population. A survey conducted by ColoradoHealth.org found that nearly 14% of Colorado adults reported poor mental health and nearly one of four high schoolers and middle schoolers reported poor mental health. As a result, many are working to address mental health through effective medications and ongoing supportive services through mental health care. Buspirone is a prescribed medication that treats anxiety. Buspirone interactions and information regarding anti-anxiety medications are important in understanding the overall treatment of such mental health disorders.
Drug interactions are important to examine closely as they may be impactful to individuals that require prescription medication to treat anxiety and depression. However, the issue is incredibly complex. Narrowing focus on buspirone interactions may help to clarify how anti-anxiety medications work, how they’re received, and if any (or all) may cause dependency and misuse.
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How Is Buspirone Different From Other Anti-Anxiety Meds?
Largely because it uses a different chemical process, Buspirone, or sometimes referred to as simply Buspar, is generally considered to be a safer alternative to some other anti-anxiety drugs. However, it is not entirely safe, especially with regard to issues like Buspar addiction. These risks obviously vary among different individuals. Some people experience tremendous results from Buspar with practically no side-effects. Like Xanax, although not a benzodiazepines, Buspirone is a synthetic prescription medication designed to treat anxiety. While its mechanism of action is not clearly understood, it may involve effects on the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Buspirone may work by stimulating serotonin type 1A receptors on nerves, thereby altering the chemical messages. Unlike anxiety medications of the benzodiazepine class, buspirone does not cause sedation. Benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) in the brain, and another reason why Xanax can be considered a very dangerous prescription medication.
The Difference Between Buspar and Xanax and Other Addictive Drugs
Almost everyone feels situational anxiety from time to time. But roughly one in five Americans suffer from chronic anxiety. So, antidepressants like Bristol-Myer Squibb’s Buspar are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country. Some practitioners view Buspirone, which has been available in a cheap generic form since 2001, as a safer alternative to drugs like Xanax or Lexapro. So, there is a lot of Buspirone available, it is easy to obtain, and it is dangerous for some people.
The Three Main Types of Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Since anxiety and anti-anxiety drugs are so common, it’s important to understand how they work and their potential for addiction before you allow them into your household. That’s especially true if you or a loved one already struggles with addiction issues.
Xanax and many other anti-anxiety medications are highly-addictive benzodiazepines. These drugs enhance certain neurotransmitters which in turn release significant amounts of chloride ions. That influx hyperpolarizes the brain and causes the neurons to fire less often.
In plain English, benzodiazepines (benzos) have a calming effect on the brain and often induce a catatonic state, especially after repeated use. That’s because the body quickly develops a benzo tolerance, so patients need higher and higher doses to obtain the same benefit. The calming effect (feeling stoned) is even more pronounced if the person just takes the drug to get high and has very few anxiety symptoms.
Other anti-anxiety drugs, like Prozac, are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs are non-narcotic, very effective, and non-addictive. These medicines increase serotonin levels by blocking serotonin reuptake (reabsorption). Serotonin’s is commonly referred to as “the happy chemical” since it improves mood. Serotonin also helps regulate the circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle.
However, they are very powerful drugs that are not suitable for young people, pregnant women, and certain other population groups.
Although it works a bit differently than other medicines in its class, Buspar is an anxiolytic as opposed to a benzo or an SSRI. It manipulates dopamine production to relieve anxiety, although researchers still are not exactly sure how it works. They do know how dopamine functions. This neurotransmitter suppresses emotional responses, so people do not get really happy or really angry about much of anything. Dopamine also controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers.
Some Additional Alternatives
- Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: Many people have high hopes for newer and less well-studied SNRIs like Effexor (Venlafaxine). These drugs work a lot like SSRIs, but in addition to raising serotonin levels, SNRIs also block norepinephrine reuptake. Norepinephrine is the brain’s motivational chemical. So, they make people feel better and want to stay that way.
- Hydroxyzines: Vistaril and other such drugs are essentially rebranded Benadryl. Initially, hydroxyzines are very powerful sedatives, but the effect rapidly fades.
- Gabapentin: Because its name begins with GABA (the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid), many people think that Neurontin and its brethren are effective anti-anxiety drugs. But they are essentially anti-seizure drugs that may have some other applications.
So, the process of elimination often leads families to Buspar. For the most part, Buspirone relieves symptoms very quickly, since it is a fast-acting drug that does not need to reach a therapeutic level to be effective, and the patients go their way. But in many cases, the end result of a Buspar prescription is Buspar abuse.
As outlined below, Buspirone has some definite pros and cons when compared to other anti-anxiety drugs. But first, it’s important to examine some potential Buspar side-effects.
Some Dangerous Effects of Buspirone
People do not develop a tolerance to Buspar, so it’s less likely to become addictive. However, like all anti-anxiety drugs, there is some risk of addiction. By itself, Buspirone does not deliver much of a high, even if it’s shot up. Some people say that snorting Buspar is like experiencing a bad hangover. However, if it’s combined with alcohol, Xanax, or other drugs, Buspirone often delivers enough of a high to make people want more.
This risk would not be so significant if Buspar wasn’t so widely available. Typically, doctors prescribe Buspirone for their patients who suffer from symptoms like irritability, dizziness, worry, fear, shakiness, tension, upset stomach, and trouble sleeping for at least a month. These anxiety symptoms are quite generic, and also quite easy to fake at a doctor’s appointment, so physicians write a lot of Buspirone prescriptions for mild anxiety cases.
Unlike many other prescription drugs, people who take the drug as directed usually cannot get addicted to Buspar. But Buspirone withdrawal is often a serious concern. As a preliminary matter, withdrawal affects everyone differently. Some common factors include:
- Time: The longer you take any drug, the more your body becomes dependent on it, and the worse the withdrawal symptoms will most likely be.
- Dosage: Whether you took Buspar at a 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, or 30mg level also controls withdrawal levels, to a considerable extent. Some doctors say you should gradually decrease dosage down to the minimum; others say it’s better to quit cold turkey.
- Physiology: Just like Buspar affects different people in different ways (some find relief and some don’t), no two people have the same risk for Buspar withdrawal and the same symptoms. It’s probably best to be prepared for the worst.
Buspirone has a very short half-life of about four hours, so the best practice is to lower your dose by 5mg a day. Be sure to check with your doctor first.
Buspar’s anti-anxiety effects sometimes wear off rather quickly, so people often increase their dosage. So, by the time quitting time comes, many people are on high Buspirone doses. That almost always means withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms range from mildly annoying to rather serious. A few common ones are:
- Anxiety: It’s natural that anxiety levels will rise after a person stops taking an anti-anxiety drug, but expectations are important here. If the patient believed that Buspirone would “cure” anxiety and that did not happen, they often look for something stronger and more addictive.
- Drowsiness/Fatigue: These symptoms are very common after a person stops taking a psychotropic drug. But for some reason, these issues are more pronounced with Buspirone. Many people reach for a stimulant during this period. They often reason that if a pill alleviated their anxiety, another pill will do the same for their tiredness.
- Insomnia: Rebound anxiety often keeps people awake at night. So, they often look for something to help them sleep. Many times, that “something” is a dangerous drug.
Other common withdrawal symptoms include nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Bear in mind that all these symptoms are usually temporary and rarely last more than a few days. Hopefully, that knowledge will help you avoid the temptation to self-medicate your symptoms.
When prescribed buspirone it’s important to know of specific buspirone interactions. Buspirone oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs. Buspirone is widely known to treat anxiety but may not, simultaneously treat ongoing depression. What this means is that individuals that suffer from depression in addition to anxiety may require more than one type of medication. Buspirone interactions with these depression meds may not be recommended as it may increase the levels of buspirone in your body. This raises side effects. Examples of these drugs include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Of course, always consult medical professionals or your prescribing doctor about possible risks and side effects that may impact buspirone interactions.
AspenRidge Recovery continues to offer ongoing support for those suffering from prescription addiction. In addition, our professional and certified staff members offer dual diagnosis modalities to treat the underlying causes of mental health and addiction. Contact us directly at 855-281-5588 for more information on our programs across Colorado.
Buspar vs. Xanax
Alprazolam is not simply an expensive version of Buspirone. As mentioned earlier, the two medicines work completely differently even though they treat the same problem. Xanax is benzo that manipulates chemicals in the brain, and Buspar adjusts hormone levels. In fact, comparing Xanax to Buspar is almost like comparing Oxycontin to Aspirin: They’re completely different, even though either one will treat a headache. Because of that difference, Buspirone is not nearly as addictive as Alprazolam or other benzos.
Xanax also has some different side-effects from Buspirone, including:
- Weight changes,
- Memory loss,
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea or constipation, and
- Libido changes.
For the most part, Buspar has none of these side-effects.
One of the biggest differences is that Buspar is just an anti-anxiety drug whereas Xanax is both an anti-anxiety drug and a sedative. So, unless it’s taken with alcohol or another sedative, Buspar probably will not get you high or stoned. Xanax, on the other hand, does get people high, which is one of the reasons it’s one of the most abused of all prescription drugs. Over 80% of people take Xanax as a secondary medication, which means that the high they feel is even more powerful.
The Drug Enforcement Agency recognizes these differences as well. Xanax is a Schedule IV drug since according to the DEA, it has a low risk of abuse and addiction. Other Schedule IV drugs include Ambien, Valium, and Darvocet, so intensive outpatient therapy may or may not be an option for addicts. Like most kinds of Robitussin as well as Lyrica and a few others, Buspirone is a Schedule V drug that has almost no risk of dependence or addiction.
Buspar vs. Klonopin
Clonazepam (Klonopin) is a form of benzo as well. This drug may even be more powerful than Xanax. In addition to anxiety and depression, Clonazepam treats serious conditions like severe agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and muscle control disease dystonia. As a matter of fact, Klonopin is most widely prescribed as an anti-seizure drug. Buspar has none of these uses. Here are a few other comparisons:
- Duration: Clonazepam is only safe for short term (under a month) or occasional use. If taken regularly or frequently, patients almost always experience serious side effects and painful withdrawal. Buspar, on the other hand, is safe for long-term use, at least in most cases.
- Cost: Prescription Klonopin is about twice as high as prescription Buspar. Generic Buspirone is even cheaper than that.
- Side Effects: Clonazepam affects both the brain and the muscles. So, some of the side-effects include dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and memory loss. Buspirone, which is basically a one-trick pony, has none of these side effects.
Finally, in terms of drug interaction, Buspirone is not really safe to take with alcohol. But people who combine alcohol and Klonopin often experience blackouts or severe motor skills impairment.
Buspirone vs. Lexapro
Escitalopram (Lexapro) is an SSRI. So, as compared to benzos, it is less addictive, although that term is rather difficult to define. Lexapro also has more side effects. In fact, people with heart or liver conditions should never take Escitalopram. Also, like other SSRIs, Lexapro often causes weight gain and costs about twice as much as Buspirone.
On the plus side, Lexapro is more effective than Buspar for extremely long-term use, mostly because Escitalopram may actually prevent depression and anxiety from coming back. There are also fewer drug interaction concerns with Lexapro than with Buspirone or benzos.
Escitalopram is available in pill or liquid form and helps prevent panic attacks.
Buspar vs. Valium
Both of these drugs help people relax. In brief, Buspar takes time to kick in, works well for a while, then becomes largely ineffective. It has few side effects and is not very addictive. Valium (Diazepam), on the other hand, is a more addictive and more powerful Schedule IV drug. It’s also fast-acting, may have some serious drug interactions, and effectively calms muscle spasms.
Valium is not as expensive as the other non-Buspirone drugs mentioned above, but it’s still more expensive than Buspar. A few of the common Diazepam side effects not found in Buspirone include memory problems, fatigue, drowsiness, kidney problems, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.
Where to Go for Help
Living with anxiety is bad and living with addiction is even worse. AspenRidge Recovery helps with both. We use proven methods to deal with addiction, and our facility is located outside Denver in a very peaceful and serene mountain environment. Reach out to us today and let us help you get your life back. Contact us directly 24/7 for supportive services and information on our addiction centers and addiction programs at 855-281-5588.