How does buspirone differ from other anti-anxiety medications?
Buspirone is a much safer alternative to some other anti-anxiety medications, mainly because it uses a different chemical process. However, it is not entirely safe, especially with regard to issues such as buspar dependency. These risks obviously differ from person to person. Some people experience enormous results with virtually no side effects from Buspar. Others are not so lucky.
The difference between Buspar and Xanax and other addictive substances
Almost everyone experiences situational anxieties from time to time. But about one in five Americans suffers from chronic anxiety. That’s why antidepressants like Buspar from Bristol-Myer Squibb are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country. Some practitioners consider buspirone, which has been available in a cheap generic form since 2001, to be a safer alternative to drugs such as Xanax or Lexapro. Buspirone is therefore abundant, easy to obtain and dangerous for some people.
The three main types of anti-anxiety drugs
Because anxiety and anti-anxiety medications are so widely used, it is important to understand their effects and addictive potential before you include them in your household. This is especially important if you or a loved one is already struggling with addiction problems.
Xanax (alprazolam) and many other anxiety medicines are highly addictive benzodiazepines. These drugs boost certain neurotransmitters, which in turn release significant amounts of chloride ions. This influx hyperpolarises the brain and causes the neurons to fire less frequently.
In plain language, benzodiazepines (benzos) have a sedative effect on the brain and often induce a catatonic state, especially after repeated use. This is because the body quickly develops a benzotolerance, so patients need ever higher doses to achieve the same benefit. The sedative effect (stoned) is even more pronounced if the person is only taking the drug to get high and has very few anxiety symptoms.
Other medications for anxiety, such as Prozac (fluoxetine), are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRIs are non-narcotic, very effective and non-addictive. These drugs increase serotonin levels by blocking serotonin reuptake (absorption). The exact nature and purpose of serotonin is still unknown, but it is commonly called “the happy chemical” because it improves mood. Serotonin also helps to regulate the circadian sleep-wake cycle.
However, these are very powerful drugs and are not suitable for young people, pregnant women and certain other population groups.
Although it works slightly differently from other drugs in its class, Buspar is an anxiolytic as opposed to a benzo or SSRI. It manipulates dopamine production to relieve anxiety, although researchers still do not know exactly how it works. They do know how dopamine works. This neurotransmitter suppresses emotional reactions, so people do not really get happy or angry about a lot of things. Dopamine also controls the pleasure and reward centres in the brain.
Some additional alternatives
There are a few other options, especially for people whose symptoms are too strong for anxiolytics but who are not good candidates for SSRIs or benzos. These include:
Serotonin-noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors: Many people have high hopes for newer and less well studied SNRIs such as Effexor (venlafaxine). These drugs work similarly to SSRIs, but in addition to increasing serotonin levels, SNRIs also block norepinephrine reuptake. Norepinephrine is the motivational chemical of the brain. So they make people feel better and want to stay that way.
Hydroxyzine: Vistaril and other such drugs are essentially renamed Benadryl. Initially Hydroxyzine is a very strong sedative, but the effects wear off quickly.
Gabapentine: Because its name begins with GABA (the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid), many people think that Neurontin and his brothers are effective drugs for anxiety. However, they are essentially anti-epileptic drugs that can also be used for other purposes.
For example, the process of eliminating families often leads to Buspar. In most cases, buspirone relieves the symptoms very quickly, because it is a fast-acting drug that does not need to reach a therapeutic level to be effective, and patients go their own way. But in many cases the end result of a Buspar prescription is Buspar abuse.
As explained below, buspirone has some clear advantages and disadvantages compared to other anti-anxiety medications. But first, it is important to investigate some possible side effects of buspar.
Some dangerous effects of buspirone
People do not develop tolerance for Buspar, so it is less likely to be addictive. However, as with all anti-anxiety drugs, there is a certain risk of addiction. Buspirone alone does not give much of a high, even if it is high. Some people say that snorting buspar is like a bad hangover. However, when combined with alcohol, Xanax or other drugs, buspirone often provides enough intoxicants to make people want more.
This risk would not be so great if Buspar was not so widely available. Usually doctors prescribe buspirone to their patients who suffer from symptoms such as irritability, dizziness, worry, anxiety, shakiness, tension, upset stomach and sleep disturbances for at least a month. These anxiety symptoms are quite common and can be faked quite easily during a visit to the doctor, so doctors write many buspirone prescriptions for mild anxiety.
Unlike many other prescription drugs, people who take the drug as prescribed usually cannot become dependent on buspar. But withdrawal of buspirone is often a serious problem. First of all, withdrawal affects each person differently. There are some common factors:
Time: The longer you take a drug, the more dependent your body becomes on it, and the worse the withdrawal symptoms are likely to get.
Dosage: Whether you take Buspar in a dose of 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg or 30 mg also controls withdrawal symptoms to a considerable extent. Some doctors say that you should gradually reduce the dose to the minimum; others say that it is better to stop cold turkey withdrawal.
Physiology: Just as Buspar works differently in different people (some find relief, others don’t), no two people have the same risk of Buspar withdrawal and the same symptoms. It is probably best to be prepared for the worst.
Because buspirone has a very short half-life of about four hours, it is best to reduce the dose by 5 mg a day. In any case, talk to your doctor first.
The anti-anxiety effects of buspar sometimes wear off quite quickly, so people often increase their dose. So when it is time to stop, many people take high doses of Buspar. This almost always means withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms range from mildly annoying to quite serious. A few common ones are:
Anxiety: It is natural for the anxiety level to rise after stopping an anti-anxiety drug, but expectations are important here. If patients believed that Buspirone would “cure” anxiety, which did not happen, they often look for something stronger and more addictive.
Drowsiness / tiredness: These symptoms occur very often after a person stops taking a psychotropic drug. But for some reason these problems are more pronounced in Buspirone. Many people reach for a stimulant during this time. They often justify this by saying that if one pill relieves their anxiety, another pill will do the same for their fatigue.
Insomnia: Rebound anxiety often keeps people awake at night. So they often look for something to help them fall asleep. This “something” is often a dangerous drug.
Other common withdrawal symptoms are nausea, dizziness and headaches. Remember that all these symptoms are usually temporary and rarely last longer than a few days. Hopefully this knowledge will help you avoid the temptation to treat your symptoms yourself.
Buspar versus Xanax
Alprazolam is not a simple and expensive version of Buspirone. As already mentioned, the two drugs have completely different effects, although they treat the same problem. Xanax is a benzo that manipulates chemicals in the brain, and buspar regulates hormone levels. In fact, comparing Xanax to Buspar is almost like comparing Oxycontin to aspirin: they are completely different, even though both treat headaches. Because of this difference, buspirone is not nearly as addictive as alprazolam or other benzos.
Xanax also has some other side effects of buspirone, including
Weight changes, Memory loss, digestive problems, such as diarrhoea or constipation, and Changes in libido.
Most of the time Buspar has none of these side effects.
One of the biggest differences is that Buspar is only an anti-anxiety drug, while Xanax is both an anti-anxiety drug and a sedative. So if it is not taken with alcohol or another tranquilizer, Buspar will probably not make you high or stoned. Xanax, on the other hand, makes people high, which is one of the reasons why it is one of the most abused of all prescription drugs. Over 80 percent of people take Xanax as a secondary drug, which means that the high they feel is even stronger.
The Drug Enforcement Agency also recognizes these differences. Xanax is an Annex IV drug because, according to the DEA, it has a low risk of abuse and addiction. Other Annex IV drugs include Ambien, Valium and Darvocet, so intensive outpatient treatment for addicts may or may not be an option. Like most types of Robitussin, as well as Lyrica and some others, buspirone is a Schedule V drug with almost no risk of addiction or dependency.
Buspar vs Klonopin
Clonazepam (Klonopin) is also a benzo. This drug may even be stronger than Xanax. In addition to anxiety and depression, clonazepam treats severe conditions such as severe agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and the muscle control disorder dystonia. In fact, Klonopin is most commonly prescribed as an antiepileptic. Buspar has none of these applications. Here are a few other comparisons:
Duration: Clonazepam is only safe for short-term (less than a month) or occasional use. Regular or frequent use almost always causes severe side effects and painful withdrawal symptoms in patients. Buspar, on the other hand, is safe for long-term use, at least in most cases.
The cost: The cost of prescription Klonopin is about twice as high as that of prescription Buspar. Generic Buspirone is even cheaper than this.
Side effects: Clonazepam works on both the brain and the muscles. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, confusion and memory loss. Buspirone, which is basically a one-trick pony, has none of these side effects.
Finally, as for the interaction with other medications, buspirone is not really safe to take with alcohol. However, people who combine alcohol and Klonopin often experience blackouts or severe motor impairments.
Buspirone vs Lexapro
Escitalopram (Lexapro) is an SSRI. Compared to benzos, it is therefore less addictive, although this term is rather difficult to define. Lexapro also has more side effects. In fact, people with heart or liver disease should never take escitalopram. Also, like other SSRIs, Lexapro often causes weight gain and costs about twice as much as buspirone.
On the positive side, Lexapro is more effective than buspar in extremely long-term use, especially because escitalopram can actually prevent depression and anxiety from returning. Lexapro also has fewer concerns about interactions with other drugs than buspirone or benzos.
Escitalopram is available in pill or liquid form and helps prevent panic attacks.
buspar vs. valium
These two drugs help people to relax. In short: Buspar needs time to take effect, works well for a while and 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 effective drug according to List IV. It also works quickly, may have some serious interactions with other medications, and is effective in calming muscle spasms.
Valium is not as expensive as the other non-Buspirone drugs mentioned above, but it is still more expensive than Buspar. Common side effects of diazepam not found in buspirone include memory problems, fatigue, drowsiness, kidney problems, dizziness, nausea and confusion.
Where to get help
Living with fear 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 of Denver in a very peaceful and tranquil mountain environment. Contact us today and let us help you get your life back on track.