Buspirone Abuse – Is Buspar Addictive?

Last Updated: October 19, 2021

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Sold under the brand name Buspar, the medicine is used for the treatment of anxiety and related diagnosis caused by Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Buspirone HCL is commonly prescribed by doctors due to its low toxicity and insignificant side effects. Yet despite all pros, the abuse of Buspar drug poses a plethora of health risks.
This article presents information on the addiction potential of Buspirone medicine, signs and symptoms of addiction, and how to tackle the dependence.

Buspirone Medication

Buspar (Buspirone brand name) was first approved by the FDA and has been available as a prescription drug in the USA since 2000. As for the classification, Buspirone’s drug class is azapirone drug.
Buspirone medication contains Buspirone HCl as an active ingredient and is primarily used to treat GAD and in the short term treatment of symptoms of anxiety, such as:

  • tension
  • irritability
  • dizziness
  • fear
  • pounding heartbeat
  • insomnia

The efficacy of this drug is known to be equivalent to the benzodiazepines. The effectiveness of Buspirone has been demonstrated in the controlled pharmacological experiments of outpatients with the GAD diagnosis. It takes 3 to 4 weeks before one starts feeling better. Moreover, in the research of long term use of Buspar, 264 patients were treated with the drug for more than a year without any side effects. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no Buspirone side effects at all and that one can carelessly take this medicine.

Buspirone Addiction And Abuse

According to the FDA, Buspar has shown little to no abuse potential, and there is no evidence that it causes psychological/physical addiction or tolerance. Human participants with a history of recreational alcohol or drug addiction were studied during the clinical trial. The subjects were unable to differentiate between the placebo and Buspar. Animal trials also demonstrate that the Buspar lacks potential for addiction.
Buspar has a zero street value and is not a drug of preference for those looking to get high. While the Buspar addiction potential is low, one still can become attached to the drug. In this case, it is important to avoid Buspirone interactions as it can greatly affect daily life by fueling the drug abuse issue.
Man Takes Out Pills From A Bottle
Even though the medicine is not addictive, that doesn’t mean it can not be abused. One of the means of Buspirone abuse is by taking it with alcohol to enhance the sedative properties or used in combination with methamphetamine to attenuate the adverse effects of it. There are rare cases of intentional Buspar abuse with harmful consequences and those were consistently associated with alcohol or mixed drugs. Moreover, the fact that Buspirone’s half-life is about 2 to 3 hours only contributes to the possibility of abuse.

There is also a peculiar fact that may contribute to the abuse. Besides the mitigation of anxiety, one of the Buspirone sexual side effects is an increase in libido that was previously suppressed by antidepressants. The medicine reverses the adverse reaction of antidepressants on libido and, hence, restores the sex drive. When comparing Buspar vs Xanax (one of the alternative options for anxiety management), this a significant benefit for the patient.

Who’s At Risk

Vanspar abuse and addiction are more common among patients with panic anxiety disorders.

For example:

  • Students with antisocial personalities tend to take it before appearing for a classroom presentation.
  • Teenagers with panic disorders may misuse it to be socially stable.
  • A person with insomnia may abuse it to feel less irritable.
  • Overconfident individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may abuse it with the intention to keep themselves in stable condition.

One should only take medicine as prescribed by the doctor and shouldn’t increment the dose as it won’t result in instant results. This is especially important for future mothers, as the relation between Buspar and pregnancy issues requires deeper investigation.
Depressed Person Covers Holds His Head

Signs And Symptoms Of Abuse And Addiction


If Buspar doesn’t cause euphoria, why would people abuse it? One reason is to reach sedation. Taking a dose of Buspirone medicine larger than prescribed can elevate its effects, often to a potentially dangerous stage. There are cases of people snorting and crushing the medicine to get instant sedative effects. Snorting it typically results in a Buspar high with a subsequent mild to moderate sedation.

Symptoms of abuse include:

  • feeling lightheaded
  • severe headaches
  • irritability or aggression
  • loss of appetite
  • nasal congestion
  • increased urination
  • impaired vision


Signs of Buspar medication abuse are similar to ones from other prescription medicines.  At the same time, one can observe such rare effects as Buspar weight gain or abdominal pains.

Signs that show that the user is taking the high dose and thus abusing the drug include :

  • regular, uncontrolled intake schedule
  • sweating skin
  • loss of interest in daily activities
  • weight changes
  • work-life balance disturbance
  • the appearance of withdrawal symptoms if a person has gone longer than normal without consuming it

Since the increase of Buspar drug intake is one of the obvious signs of abuse, it is important to remember that taking too much may lead to a Buspirone overdose. The OD state may result in unconsciousness and subsequent respiratory compromise.

Seeking Help For An Addiction

While Buspar medication can safely be taken when used as prescribed by the licensed medical professional, the tolerance and dependence can kick in; even it is used for the short term. Being scared, one may decide to abrupt the intake of the drug. This leads to Buspirone withdrawal that brings its own issues to the patient’s health. As for the Buspirone warnings, the addiction is especially dangerous for those with comorbid renal or hepatic impairment as this drug may deepen these issues.

If one is addicted to Buspar or knows someone who is, it is essential to seek help immediately. The early recognition followed by a proper substance addiction treatment course will allow a faster and definitive recovery. All of this is possible through the work of professionals at private or state-funded drug rehabilitation centers. Upon admission, a patient will not only receive treatment for underlying addiction but will also receive specialized psychological help that is aimed at resolving personal issues.

Page Sources

  1. FDA. BuSpar. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/018731s051lbl.pdf
  2. Wilson TK, Tripp J. Buspirone. [Updated 2020 Mar 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531477/

Published on: July 10th, 2020

Updated on: October 19th, 2021

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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