Alcohol and Buspar: Can I Take Them Together?

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Buspar can be extremely beneficial for people who have anxiety or depression. But before you begin to use Buspar, it’s important to get some vital information from your doctor or pharmacist. For example, how often should you take this medication, what types of side effects do you need to be aware of, and can Buspar be taken with alcohol?

What Is Buspar?

Before we delve into the question, can Buspar be taken with alcohol, let’s take a moment to review what this medication is and why so many people use it.

Buspar is the brand name of a prescription medication that has typically been used to treat the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The generic version of this medication is buspirone hydrochloride, which is usually referred to simply as buspirone. 

Buspirone was synthesized for the first time in 1968. When buspirone was developed, it was intended to be used as an antipsychotic. Early research soon determined that the drug was not an effective remedy for symptoms of psychosis, but it did show promise as an anxiolytic (which is the clinical term for an anti-anxiety medication).

Buspar originally earned approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1986. That approval was for a 10mg tablet. In 1996, the FDA expanded its approval to include 15mg and 30mg tablets.

In addition to its FDA-approved use for patients who had been struggling with anxiety, Buspar is sometimes also used on an off-label basis to treat individuals who have major depressive disorder (MDD). Research suggests that Buspar is most effective at treating MDD when patients use it in combination with another antidepressant, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

In 2012, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company pulled Buspar off the market. The FDA determined that this discontinuation was not due to any safety concerns about the medication. Most likely, it was due to the fact that generic buspirone was widely available. Since many people continue to refer to buspirone by its old brand name, we are using that term here as well.

Can Buspar Be Taken With Alcohol?

Now that we’ve established what Buspar and buspirone are, let’s address the question that we posed in the headline of today’s post: Can Buspar be taken with alcohol?

This simple question thankfully has a simple answer: No, you should not take Buspar with alcohol.

Alcohol can diminish Buspar’s effectiveness, while Buspar can magnify the effects of alcohol. This means that in addition to risking elevated anxiety symptoms, people who combine Buspar with alcohol may also experience the following:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Impaired judgment
  • Memory problems

These effects can, in turn, be sources of additional problems. For example, dizziness or lightheadedness can lead to injuries due to slips and falls, while impaired judgement can cause a person to engage in reckless behaviors such as driving while under the influence of alcohol.

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What Happens if I Need Buspar, but I Can’t Stop Drinking?

For many people, refraining from drinking while taking Buspar is at worst a mild inconvenience. For many others, staying away from alcohol in order to benefit from this medication can feel like a virtual impossibility. If you find yourself in the second group, it may be time to consider getting professional help.  Alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction or alcoholism) is a chronic, progressive disease. It is also a treatable condition. 

This means that when you get the right care, you can stop drinking and start living a healthier life in recovery. It also means that if you don’t get the help you need, you will remain at risk for increasingly severe damage to your health, your relationships, and your overall quality of life.

But let’s focus on the positive. What are your treatment options, and how can you find the right place to get help?

If you’ve been drinking heavily for an extended period of time, a detoxification program may be your best first step. Alcohol withdrawal can be a highly unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience. But when you’re in detox, you will be under the care of a team of experienced professionals who can keep you safe and minimize your discomfort.

Once you’ve successfully completed detox, you can transition directly into the therapeutic phase of your treatment. For many people, the optimal next step after detox is to enroll in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). 

The many benefits of participating in one or both of these programs include:

  • Addressing the issues that may have cause you to turn to alcohol in the first place
  • Understanding your triggers, which are the situations or circumstances that could push you back into active alcohol abuse 
  • Learning how to communicate more effectively, manage stress, and solve problems without resorting to alcohol
  • Replacing self-defeating thought and behavior patterns with healthier ways of thinking and acting
  • Discovering the power of sharing support with others who are working to remain in recovery

There is no single program or treatment technique that works for everyone. When you’re seeking treatment, take the time to find a provider that will assess the full scope of your needs, then develop an individualized plan just for you.

Find Outpatient Treatment for Alcoholism in Nashville

If your life has been disrupted by compulsive alcohol abuse, please know that you are not alone. 

Nashville Treatment Solutions offers a customizable array of evidence-based services to help adults end their use of alcohol and other addictive substances. We also serve patients whose struggles with addiction have been accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other co-occurring mental health concerns.

At our alcohol addiction treatment center in Nashville, you can expect to receive comprehensive care and close personal support from a team of highly skilled professionals. We understand that addiction impacts every person in a unique way, and we are committed to providing you with a truly individualized experience while you are with us. 

To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.