If you’re like many people, you may drink alcohol to help you loosen up while you socialize. However, you may not realize that alcohol is a drug. It’s a sedative and a depressant, and it can interact with other drugs. One drug that alcohol interacts with is Buspar.

Buspar is used to help manage anxiety disorders. It also provides a relaxing effect during episodes of anxiety. Buspar and alcohol affect your central nervous system in many similar ways. Some effects can be harmful if they are too severe. For this reason, you shouldn’t use Buspar and alcohol together.

Buspar is a brand name for the drug buspirone. Buspirone belongs to a class of medications called anxiolytics or antianxiety drugs. It helps relieve anxiety by slowing activity in your central nervous system. However, the action on your central nervous system can affect more than just your anxiety. Some of the side effects Buspar can cause include:

  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • fatigue

Alcohol also acts on your central nervous system in similar ways. It can make you sleepy, drowsy, and lightheaded.

Mixing Buspar and alcohol can increase the severity of the effects both drugs have on your central nervous system. However, this mixture can also cause more severe effects, such as:

  • slowed breathing or breathing that is difficult
  • impaired muscle control
  • memory problems

These risks can lead to falls or serious injuries, especially if you are older.

When you drink alcohol, you might feel more relaxed or that your anxiety is temporarily relieved. However, after a few hours, when the effects of the alcohol wear off, your anxiety may feel worse. Over time, you can also build a tolerance to the temporarily relaxing effects from alcohol. You may start to feel that you have to drink more to get the same effect. You may also notice that the anxiety relief you get from alcohol decreases. Heavy drinking may actually lead to worsened anxiety.

Additionally, the use of alcohol over long periods can lead to dependence and alcohol withdrawal.

Read more: What is alcohol withdrawal? Causes, symptoms, treatments, and more »

Buspar may be effective at preventing some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal as well as reducing alcohol cravings. However, the use of Buspar for alcohol withdrawal symptoms has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, read our article on off-label use.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:

  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • upset stomach
  • headache
  • sweating
  • sleeplessness

More serious symptoms can include:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
  • disorientation
  • fast heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • agitation
  • seizure

These symptoms can often make it difficult for people who are dependent on alcohol to quit drinking.

Drinking alcohol while you take Buspar is not recommended. Combining the two can increase your risk of side effects. Some of these side effects can be harmful to your health. Additionally, alcohol should not be used as a treatment for anxiety. If you find that you’re using alcohol to relieve your anxiety, talk to your doctor right away.

Keep reading: Alcohol addiction and alcoholism »