Tag Archives: anxiety medication

Buspar and Alcohol: Facts and Side Effects

Buspar is a type of anti-anxiety medication. The manufacturer of the branded version of Buspar discontinued its production in 2010, but the generic version of the drug can still be prescribed. Though in short supply, doctors have found buspirone (Buspar’s generic name) to be an effective medication for the treatment of anxiety symptoms. Like the mixture of many substances, taking buspar and alcohol together can yield unpleasant and sometimes even harmful side effects.

Buspirone – Just An Anxiety Medication?

Though it is commonly compared to Xanax, buspirone does not trult belong in the same substance classification. Rather than qualifying as a benzodiazepine, buspirone belongs to the family of substances known as azapirones. This class of substances, like benzodiazepines, can treat the symptoms of anxiety. However, doctors often choose to prescribe buspirone over benzodiazepines (benzos) because it is less likely to be abused. While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

While buspirone may be a solid alternative to some anti-anxiety medications, there are a few things that are unknown about the substance. Particularly, the method with which this drug takes effect is unclear. Researchers have speculated that the substance affects the part of the brain that is responsible for governing fear response, but clear evidence has not been observed yet. While the reason for the effect may be unknown, the side effects have been studied and are mostly well-understood.

While individuals may experience tolerance and eventual dependence to a benzodiazepine, buspirone has not been shown to be addictive.

Buspirone’s Side Effects

Buspirone’s most common side effect is dizziness. There are also several varied effects that patients may experience. Though it’s uncommon, anything from blurry vision to nausea can occur. The complete list of typical side effects includes:

  • Odd Dreams
  • Poor Coordination
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Excitability
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Tingling Skin
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing Ears
  • Chest pain
  • Congestion
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Tremors

Though the list of potential side effects is long, these effects are rare, and only manifest in a small number of patients. Additionally, side effects tend to subside as treatment progresses.

How Long Does Buspirone Stay in Your System?

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed. The half life of buspirone is similarly short: only around 2 to 3 hours. Effectively, this means that the body removes half of the current amount of the substance within 3 hours. If an individual were to take a dose of 30 mg, then in 3 hours, that individual would have only 15 mg of buspirone in their system. This process would keep repeating every 3 hours or so until the entirety of the drug is eliminated. Due to this short timespan of effect, individuals who have a prescription to buspirone may need to take a dose daily, or more often.

Since Buspirone can treat the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder with very little risk of dependence developing, researchers have investigated its effectiveness at treating withdrawal symptoms of other substances. Oftentimes anxiety and cravings appear in patients who are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. This means a substance that mitigates those symptoms and also has little risk of being abused itself may be the perfect substance to help recovering individuals. In a pair of studies, patients recovering from alcohol abuse and patients recovering from opioid abuse showed improvement while taking buspirone. While this kind of treatment has not been proven to be effective by the Federal Drug Administration, the results of these studies are promising, and may provide an additional help for patients suffering from or recovering from substance abuse.

Buspirone is eliminated quickly from the body; individuals who took one dose typically were free of the substance after 24 hours had passed.

Buspar Interactions With Alcohol

Fortunately, buspirone has a low chance of being abused. However, the side effects of the substance can worsen to dangerous levels if combined with other drugs. One of the most commonly abused drugs, alcohol, has one such interaction. Buspirone/Buspar and alcohol should never be consumed at the same time. 

The effects of alcohol use are somewhat similar to a few of buspirone’s side effects. Notably, dizziness, impaired coordination, and confusion all can result from both buspirone use as well as alcohol use. If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of these side effects. Extreme dizziness and intense confusion can be dangerous, especially when driving. While the interaction may cause some intense feelings of disorientation, the combination is unlikely to be anything worse than that. Some substances can interact fatally with alcohol, so it is important to always be careful when on a prescription and consuming alcohol.

If an individual takes buspirone and then consumes alcohol, they may experience more potent versions of common side effects.

Understanding the Risks of Mixing Buspar and Alcohol

Though buspirone has effectively no risk for abuse, alcohol’s risk for abuse is nearly the opposite. Substance abuse of any kind can be extremely damaging over time, alcohol especially. If you think a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, contact us today. Alcohol may be the most common, but that does not mean it is the least threatening. An individual suffering from an addiction may not realize there is a problem, so reaching out to them may be life-changing. If you would like to read more about potential drug interactions or substance abuse disorders, read our blog.

Cymbalta and Alcohol

Duloxetine, sold under the brand name Irenka or Cymbalta, is a prescription medication that usually comes as a capsule. Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta for anxiety or depression, but they may also recommend it to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta can lead to complications with the liver, so consuming alcohol with the medication can cause liver damage or worsen a pre-existing liver disease.

Doctors usually prescribe Cymbalta to treat either anxiety or depression, but it can also be used to help relieve pain.

Cymbalta – The Ins and Outs

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Cymbalta can treat the following:

  • Major Depressive Disorder in Adults
  • Generalized anxiety disorder in persons 7 years or older
  • Diabetic nerve pain in adults
  • General muscle pain in persons 13 years or older
  • Chronic pain in the bones, ligaments, tendons, or muscles in adults

The FDA classifies Cymbalta as an antidepressant, but it can also be used to treat several types of pain. Both diabetic patients and those simply suffering from chronic pain may experience relief with proper use of Cymbalta.

Cymbalta mainly reduces stress and also reduces severity of emotions.

Duloxetine works by reducing the brain’s ability to absorb both serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin is one of the body’s emotional hormones. By preventing its absorption, Cymbalta reduces the severity of emotions a patient will feel.

Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is the body’s ‘stress’ hormone, and is produced when the brain determines that the body is under tension. Cymbalta prevents norepinephrine from being absorbed in the brain, and improves mood as a result. In essence, this drug mainly reduces both stress and severity of emotions. 

However, the FDA recognized that the following side effects were common in patients with major depressive disorder who took antidepressants: 

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability/hostility or aggressiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Restlessness
  • Bipolarity

The FDA also noted some side effects exclusive to Cymbalta:

  • Liver failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Skin reactions
  • Increased blood pressure

Indeed, Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare. Moreover, they are more likely to cause complications in patients who have a pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, the FDA also determined that people who take Cymbalta don’t develop a dependence on the drug. Since it is non-addictive, it might be a better option than some other antidepressants.

 Cymbalta can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, but most of the serious ones are rare

The Impact of Alcohol

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) clearly outlines how excessive and/or chronic alcohol consumption can negatively affect the body:

  • In the brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s regular pathways, and interrupts clear thinking, decision making, coordinated movement, and mood.
  • The heart: Too much alcohol can lead to a number of heart-related complications, including misshapen heart muscles, irregular heart beat, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • In the liver: The liver metabolizes alcohol, and takes a toll from it in the form of a fatty liver, inflammation, scar tissue, and chronic liver damage.
  • In the pancreas: Alcohol prompts the pancreas to produce toxic substances that damage both the pancreas and surrounding organs.

Alcohol has also been studied to put the user at a higher risk of cancer. Too much alcohol causes a heap of unpleasant symptoms, but the combination of alcohol and Cymbalta can yield particularly nasty side effects. 

Cymbalta and Alcohol – A Dangerous Combo

It may not be inherently obvious that these two substances mix poorly, but if one were to take a look at both lists of side effects, the overlap puts the liver at especially high risk.

The FDA noted that Cymbalta should not be prescribed to individuals with pre-existing liver disease or chronic liver damage. This decision was due to the fact that Cymbalta sometimes causes liver damage, and patients who previously had liver complications could suffer severe liver damage.

On the other hand, NIH’s breakdown of alcohol’s effects on the liver include some of the exact side effects. Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in the formation of damaging scar tissue. Thus, excessive alcohol use can create the exact conditions that makes using Cymbalta excessively dangerous.

Alcohol can wreak havoc on the liver, resulting in scar tissue forming and chronic liver damage

Cymbalta can, however, also be applied to help patients who are struggling to overcome an alcohol addiction.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study in which doctors prescribed Cymbalta to help mitigate the anxiety-like effects felt by individuals struggling with alcohol cravings. The participants originally responded well to Cymbalta, showing reduced cravings for alcohol. Unfortunately, many patients of the study suffered severe liver damage as a result of the drug.

Thus, while the drug can help patients overcome alcohol cravings, Cymbalta’s effect on people who had previously suffered from alcohol addiction is primarily negative, and other ways of overcoming cravings are more promising and less damaging to the liver.

Closing Thoughts

Cymbalta, an antidepressant, treats a wide variety of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Some of the side effects from it make it dangerous in individuals who have a liver disease, or who consume a large amount of alcohol.

The anxiety-treating aspect of Cymbalta can help decrease alcohol cravings in patients overcoming addiction, but the liver damage that commonly results make it a poor choice for treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

To read more about addiction, visit our blog. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today, and we can help you on your journey. Overcoming addiction is difficult, and different for each person, but it doesn’t need to be taken on alone.