Free & Confidential Drug Hotline. Call NOW:

What Is Buspirone? Buspar Indications of Use And Risks of Addiction

Last Updated: February 15, 2022

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Buspirone, under the brand name Buspar, is one of the anxiolytic drugs available worldwide. Also known as Buspirone HCl, this drug is commonly prescribed by doctors due to its low toxicity and insignificant Buspirone side effects. In 2019, it was reported that around 2.1 million people in the United States were taking Buspar medication. Generally, the medicine is used for the treatment of anxiety and related diagnosis caused by Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Yet, despite all the pros, the abuse of a Buspar pill poses a plethora of health risks.

What is Buspirone?

The Buspar pill was first approved by the FDA and has been available as a prescription drug in the USA since 2000. As for the classification, the Buspirone drug class is azapirone drug that contains Buspirone HCl as an active ingredient. It is one of the medications primarily used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and in the short-term treatment of symptoms of anxiety. The efficacy of this drug is known to be equivalent to benzodiazepines and its effectiveness has been demonstrated in the controlled pharmacological experiments of outpatients with 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.

Buspar Dosage Forms and Strengths

The Buspar medication comes in different dosage forms and strengths. Depending on the health condition of the patient, a certain dose will be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Take a Look at the Information Below:

  • 5 mg tablet – this tablet is white and its shape is a barrel. It is a scored tablet with the imprint “MJ” on the left and “5” on the right. On the other side of the tablet, the brand “BUSPAR” is imprinted.
  • 10 mg tablet – this tablet is white and its shape is a barrel. It is a scored tablet with the imprint “MJ” on the left and “10” on the right. The brand “BUSPAR” is imprinted on the other side of the pill.
  • 15 mg tablet – also known as Dividose, this tablet is white and its shape is a rectangle. It is a doubled-scored tablet with the imprint “MJ ” on the left, no imprint on the middle, and “822” on the right. On the other side, the brand “555” is imprinted.
  • 30 mg tablet – another Dividose, this tablet is pink in color and its shape is oval/elliptical. It is a doubled-scored tablet with the imprint “MJ ” in the middle and no imprint on the left and right sides.
A woman drinks buspar pill.

What Is Buspirone Used For?

According to studies, compared to other anxiolytic medications, Buspar pill is a well-tolerated drug where even patients with Down Syndrome conditions can safely use the drug.

Due to Buspirone Drug Class as One of the Anxiolytic Medications, It Is Typically Used For:

  • Anxiety disorders, also of patients with alcohol disorders
  • Short-term management of symptoms of anxiety, possibly arising from traumatic life experiences and stress, among others

In addition, it is used in the regulation of excessive sweating and trembling, sleeplessness, and rapid, irregular heartbeat to improve mood, enhance relaxation, and manage other outward symptoms.

Besides the use of a Buspar pill for anxiety, physicians have also been routinely prescribing it for off-label uses.

For anxiety Buspirone HCl is one of the serotonin agonist medications which simply means that it activates serotonin receptors resulting in increased activity. That way, the mood is improved. In turn, it improves the physical manifestations and other symptoms of anxiety. The use of this drug for sleep enhancement in conditions involving anxiety is also recommended. Buspirone indications suggest starting patients on a low dosage. Then, the dose may be gradually increased within several weeks to obtain the desired therapeutic effect. Likewise, gradual Buspar withdrawal is necessary to minimize the side effects of discontinuing drug use.
For depression Although indications for this drug use exclude depression, the drug has been demonstrated to enhance serotonin activity in the brain. This leads to normalized regulation of mood which is desirable during the management of depressive symptoms. The use of Buspirone HCl in depression treatment typically involves combining it with SSRIs. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers observed significant improvements among subjects suffering from depression after administering medication augmentation doses of Buspirone. The drug was used as a second-line treatment for subjects who were unresponsive to SSRIs.
For panic attacks According to a study, panic attacks are one of the symptoms of anxiety. In the same study, it was reported that this intense fear of discomfort can be reduced by the use of Buspirone.
For sleep Buspirone is one of the medications that can increase sleep latency of a patient. This means that it can induce sleep in no time. However, it was also reported that this drug may cause sleep fragmentations or increased sleep interruptions
For OCD Buspar alone cannot help patients with OCD. However, when it is combined with another drug, Fluoxetine, patients with treatment resistant-OCD may benefit from it.
For PTSD Buspar is used as an augmenting medication that increases the potency of antidepressant drugs. Several studies have demonstrated the positive therapeutic effects of Buspirone in the treatment of PTSD, including one published in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. The research noted significant improvements in PTSD symptoms of the subjects and suggested that this observation demonstrated the efficacy of Buspirone in the treatment of depression.

The use of this drug for depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, and panic disorder, among other mental and neurological conditions, have become more common. Although, whether or not this drug treats these conditions effectively has not been established.

Buspirone is also used off-label to aid in the treatment of opioid withdrawal, including the management of withdrawal symptoms. According to the study of withdrawal management with Buspar, Buspirone is effective in alleviating withdrawal symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Its non-habit-forming property also makes it safer for use in detoxification.

Buspirone Addiction And Abuse Overview

According to the FDA, this drug has shown little to no abuse potential, and there is no evidence for psychological/physical Buspirone addiction or tolerance. Human participants with a history of 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 drug lacks the potential for addiction.

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. Even though Buspirone addiction is not possible, 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 its adverse effects. 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 half-life is about 2 to 3 hours only contributes to the possibility of abuse. Physical Buspar addiction is an issue that can kick in even if there is low Buspirone addiction potential. 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 Xanax vs Buspar (one of the alternative options for anxiety management), this is a significant benefit for the patient.

Signs And Symptoms Of Buspar 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. Signs of Buspar medication abuse are similar to ones from other prescription drugs. At the same time, a family member can observe such rare effects as Buspirone induced weight gain or abdominal pains when a patient abusing this drug is in the household. The presence of at least one symptom is already a sign that it is time to take action. When this happens, it is necessary to contact some help.

Some of the Physical Signs That Show That the User Is Taking the High Dose and Thus Abusing the Drug Include:

  • Sweating skin
  • Weight changes
  • The appearance of withdrawal symptoms if a person has gone longer than normal without consuming it

Aside from these physical signs of Buspar abuse and addiction, psychological signs can also be observed if one of the family members abuses Buspar. Some mental signs include:

  • Regular, uncontrolled intake schedule
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Work-life balance disturbance

Moving on, there are symptoms of Buspar abuse and addiction. These symptoms are different from the signs because a patient who abuses the drug is the only one who can feel them.

Some of the Abuse Symptoms Are As Following:

  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Severe headaches
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal congestion
  • Increased urination
  • Impaired vision

Who Is At Risk Of Buspar Addiction

Buspirone addiction and abuse are more common among patients with panic anxiety disorders. Anyone can be stuck in the loop of Buspar addiction, even those without a previous medical history of it.

Some of the Groups Who Are Most at Risk of Buspirone Addiction Include:

  • 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 people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may abuse it 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. In case a pregnant woman has abused Buspar, contact or seek immediate help from medical professionals or consider recovery centers.

Seeking Help For An Addiction

While Buspar medication can safely be taken when used as prescribed by the licensed medical professional, tolerance and dependence can kick in; even if 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 issues to the patient’s health. As for the warnings, Buspar addiction is especially dangerous for those with comorbid renal or hepatic impairment as this drug may deepen these issues.

If one is addicted to this drug or knows someone who is, it is essential to contact or 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 to a recovery center, a patient will not only receive treatment for underlying addiction but will also receive specialized mental help that is aimed at resolving personal issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Buspirone Make You Feel?

Taking Buspirone can make the patient feel more relaxed, calm, and worry-less. It can help the patient think more clearly and feel less irritable.

Is Buspirone a Controlled Substance?

Buspirone is not a controlled substance. However, it is a prescription drug where only a medical doctor can prescribe this medication.

Is Buspirone Addictive?

Buspirone is not an addictive substance and it does not cause dependence. However, this medication can be abused and this can cause health dangers especially when drug interactions are included such as in combination with alcohol.

Is Buspar an SSRI?

Buspar is not an SSRI drug. Instead, the Buspirone drug class is anxiolytics.

Is Buspar Benzo?

Buspar does not belong to the drug class benzodiazepines. Instead, the Buspirone drug class is anxiolytics.

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Page Sources

  1. Biard, K., Douglass, A. B., & De Koninck, J. (2015). The effects of galantamine and buspirone on sleep structure: Implications for understanding sleep abnormalities in major depression. Journal of psychopharmacology, 29(10), 1106-1111.
  2. Buydens-Branchey, L., Branchey, M., & Reel-Brander, C. (2005). Efficacy of buspirone in the treatment of opioid withdrawal. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 25(3), 230-236.
  3. Duffy, J. D., & Malloy, P. F. (1994). Efficacy of buspirone in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: an open trial. Annals of clinical psychiatry, 6(1), 33-37.
  4. Howe, Y. J., Thom, R. P., Notson, E. E., McDougle, C. J., & Palumbo, M. L. (2021). Buspirone for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Down Syndrome: 3 Cases. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
  5. Kane, S. P. P. (2019). Buspirone - Drug Usage Statistics, ClinCalc DrugStats Database. ClinCalc. https://clincalc.com/DrugStats/Drugs/Buspirone
  6. Kayser, R. R. (2020). Pharmacotherapy for treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 81(5)
  7. Pike, E., Stoops, W. W., & Rush, C. R. (2016). Acute buspirone dosing enhances abuse-related subjective effects of oral methamphetamine. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 150, 87-93.
  8. Rabatin, J., & Keltz, L. B. (2002). Generalized anxiety and panic disorder. The Western journal of medicine, 176(3), 164.
  9. Rakel, R. E. (1990). Long-term buspirone therapy for chronic anxiety: a multicenter international study to determine safety. Southern medical journal, 83(2), 194-198.
  10. Trivedi, M. H., Fava, M., Wisniewski, S. R., Thase, M. E., Quitkin, F., Warden, D., ... & Rush, A. J. (2006). Medication augmentation after the failure of SSRIs for depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(12), 1243-1252.

Published on: July 10th, 2020

Updated on: February 15th, 2022

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.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.