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Buspar Withdrawal: How To Stop Taking Buspirone Safely?

Last Updated: February 15, 2022

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

The medication Buspirone HCl is one of the safest anxiolytic drugs. In 2019, around 9.8 million prescriptions of this medication were issued in the United States. Relatively, in the same year, it was reported that around 2.1 million patients have been taking the drug. However, this does not mean that one cannot experience Buspirone withdrawal. Moreover, symptoms of cessation may vary by severity and duration from patient to patient. Even though Buspirone uses are not limited to anxiety treatment, all the patients should seek medical advice before discontinuing the medication. While Buspirone withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening, they can cause significant discomfort to a person’s everyday lifestyle and well-being.

Buspirone Withdrawal Overview

Buspirone, used to treat anxiety, has relatively safe side effects and a rare cessation profile. For the former, some of Buspirone’s side effects include lightheadedness which may fade away in no time. For the latter, since it is considered as a light, non-habit-forming drug, a lot of its users can come off the medication without constant medical assistance compared to other drugs. So, how come drug cessation still occurs? According to a study, abruptly stopping Buspar is the main reason why drug cessation occurs. But, understand that only those patients whose bodies cannot achieve homeostasis or cannot adjust to this removal are at risk. Also, this medication withdrawal can be increased if its symptoms are coupled with other medical conditions, drug abuse, or Buspirone interaction with alcohol or other drugs.

Take note that, although this drug’s use is for the treatment of anxiety of patients with an alcohol disorder, those taking this medication and alcohol together may experience an exacerbation of the effects of alcohol such as CNS depression.

The Symptoms Of Buspar Withdrawal

The drug Buspirone acts on the brain, specifically in the amygdala. It works by altering the serotonergic activities in those areas. This means that it can cause Buspar sexual adverse effects and weight gain while on Buspar. But, what are the changes in a patient’s body when Buspirone withdrawal occurs? Some of the Buspar withdrawal symptoms will be discussed in the information below.

Physical Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Burning or tingling feeling
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sweating
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

Psychological Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms Are as Following: 

  • Abnormal dreams
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping

Buspirone withdrawal may cause extreme weakness, chest pain, and loss of consciousness. In case any of these dangerous events occur, seek immediate medical care or help.

Buspar pills and a glass of water with a woman with a headache on the background.

How Long Does Buspar Withdrawal Last?

Even though cessation from this drug is rare, patients taking it are highly advised to not abruptly stop in the use of it. In case of emergency medication cessation, it is recommended to do the discontinuation in the presence of a health expert. So, for those who are wondering, how long does Buspar withdrawal last in case it occurs? According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the general Buspar withdrawal period is less than a week because the half-life of Buspirone is relatively short. But, just like the other drugs, the duration and severity of this drug cessation are mostly determined by different factors.

Some of These Include:

  • Patient’s individual characteristics such as age
  • General patient’s health condition
  • Length of the drug usage
  • Daily drug dosage

For example, a person taking maximal doses during an extended time has bigger chances to have more severe and long-lasting symptoms of cessation upon discontinuing the use. In the case of the drug Buspirone, even a daily dose of Buspirone HCl 10 mg may have the same potential after long-term usage.

Stopping Buspar Safely And Management Of Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

According to a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Buspirone is a safe and effective medication for the treatment of anxiety that even patients with Down Syndrome can tolerate. Also, even though it has a low cessation and addiction potential, it is still important to know how and when to properly discontinue it. Patients who want to wean off this medication or any other medications may consider the two ways which will be discussed here.

Buspirone Cold Turkey

In one clinical trial, it was reported that abruptly stopping Buspar or a cold turkey choice yields no Buspar withdrawal effects. In this study, a patient who took the medication for 6 months suddenly stopped the use of the drug and experienced no unusual events. However, even though this result is consistent with other studies, understand that this differs from patient to patient. While some may experience no Buspar withdrawal symptoms, some may experience severe ones.

Tapering Off Buspirone

The best possible approach to the treatment and management of the Buspirone withdrawal is the prevention of crisis episodes. If a patient wishes to use this way/method, the patient must contact the doctor, and in cooperation with the medical professional, create a plan of tapering off Buspirone. Tapering off means detoxification through the gradual decrease of the daily intake.

How To Manage Discomforting Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms

Understand that cold-turkey or slow drug tapering may still cause mild cessation effects. So, what can a patient do to cope with these symptoms while their body is still trying to adjust?

Some Techniques To Manage Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms Include the Following:

  • Keep in touch with the medical professional– it is necessary to update the medical professional in charge of the patient regarding the Buspar withdrawal process and improvements. Doing this can educate patients and at the same time, help reduce the risk of experiencing health dangers.
  • Regularly monitor the tapering dose– When a patient undergoes drug tapering, the dose is continuously changed under the instruction/intervention of a medical doctor. Because of this, it is necessary to always monitor the current dose as every fraction is crucial for successful drug cessation.
  • Join a detox program– Many detoxification programs can be considered when one wants to wean off a drug. Some of these are detox medications, detox drinks, and at-home detox programs.

Getting Professional Help During Buspirone Withdrawal

Buspirone is one of those medications which can look very easy to use, so even Buspar in pregnancy is considered a relatively safe option. But it is still a medication, and not abiding by the usage rules can have hefty consequences. Abruptly stopping Buspar can lead to drug cessation. Eventually, this Buspar withdrawal might be detrimental to one’s health. So patients may start to search for Buspirone alternatives. Some patients may consider the drug Zoloft. But, are Buspirone vs Zoloft the same? No, they belong to entirely different drug classes. Zoloft is a more mind-changing drug than Buspirone, so addiction and cessation from Zoloft are more common than Buspirone addiction and drug cessation. The best way to tackle the abuse and dependence issue is the admission to rehabilitation centers for drug addicts. Under the direct supervision of local specialists, the patient can undergo a proper treatment course for addicts that will help alleviate the burden of dependence.

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Page Sources

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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.