Drugs Q & A

Is Buspirone The Same As Xanax?

What is Buspirone?

Buspirone is an antianxiety medication sold under the brand name Buspar, among others. It is primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, particularly generalized anxiety disorder. Benefits support its short-term use. It is taken by mouth, and it may take up to four weeks to have an effect. Buspirone is in a class of medications called anxiolytics. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain.

Buspirone was originally being developed as an antipsychotic but was found ineffective for psychosis, but it had useful anxiolytic features. Buspirone has recently come into favor, mostly due to its decreased side-effect profile compared to other anxiolytic treatments.

Typically, it is used as a second-line agent behind selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) when a patient does not respond to or cannot tolerate the side effects of SSRIs. Buspirone has also been used as an augmentation agent to reduce SSRI’s sexual side effects in particular. Unlike benzodiazepines and barbiturates, there is no associated risk of physical dependence or withdrawal with buspirone use due to the lack of effects on GABA receptors. However, buspirone has little efficacy as an acute anxiolytic as clinical effect typically takes 2 to 4 weeks to achieve. It is as effective as benzodiazepine treatment for GAD.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for Pfizer’s brand of Alprazolam, a short-acting tranquilizer of the triazolobenzodiazepine class, which are benzodiazepines fused with a triazole ring. Pfizer is an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City.

Xanax works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in October 1981. Benzodiazepines act on the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to produce a calming effect. Xanax is a federally controlled substance (C-IV) because it can be abused or lead to dependence.

Is Buspirone The Same As Xanax?

No, Buspirone is NOT the same as Xanax despite the fact that they are both used in the management of anxiety disorders. A study that compared both drugs reported clinically important differences between the drugs in the onset of effect, with alprazolam producing rapid and sustained improvement within the first week of treatment and buspirone producing more gradual, continuous improvement. Significantly more buspirone-treated than alprazolam-treated patients failed to complete the study, primarily because of side effects or inefficacy.

According to the study, no clinically important differences were noted between alprazolam vs buspirone in side effects, vital signs, or laboratory test results. Alprazolam-treated patients most frequently reported central nervous system-related side effects (drowsiness and sedation), while buspirone-treated patients most frequently reported gastrointestinal system-related side effects (appetite disturbances and abdominal complaints).

Is buspirone (BuSpar) addictive like Xanax?

No, buspirone (BuSpar) is not addictive like Xanax, unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone doesn’t have as many side effects. There is also no known risk of becoming physically dependent on buspirone. Studies also show that buspirone works as well as benzodiazepines.

Can I use Buspirone and Xanax together?

No, you should not use Buspirone and Xanax together because doing so may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.

How many buspirone equal a Xanax?

Buspirone and Xanax are two chemically different medications. The usual starting adult dose of buspirone is 10-15 mg daily given in 2 or 3 doses. The dose may be increased by 5 mg every 2 to 4 days until an effective dose is found. The maximum adult dose is 60 mg daily, but most patients respond to 15-30 mg daily.

On the other hand, most healthcare professionals will start treatment with a low Xanax dose and steadily increase the dose every three to four days until panic attacks are under control. While no maximum dose for Xanax has been defined, some patients require more than 4 mg a day to manage panic attacks. Even higher doses (up to 10 mg per day) have been used in some patients. 

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