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Is It Safe to Combine Buspirone and Alcohol?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Combining buspirone and alcohol is generally not recommended because drinking can increase the severity of the drug's side effects. Clinical trials on the medication didn’t find any specifically dangerous interactions, but to be on the safe side, patients may be advised to avoid alcohol. This is in part because both buspirone and alcohol depress the central nervous system, and because patients with mental health conditions may be told more generally to avoid alcohol to prevent complications. Individual patients can talk to their medical providers to find out if alcohol would be safe for them.

This medication is an anti-anxiety drug which may be prescribed for a number of conditions, and can be used in combination with other medications. It can cause symptoms like drowsiness, fatigue, and poor judgment, especially as patients start to get accustomed to it. For this reason, patients just starting buspirone may be told to avoid alcohol while they get used to the medication and see how they react. If they notice significant side effects, drinking may not be a good idea because the side effects could get worse.

Combining two central nervous system depressants can be dangerous because the patient might develop a slow heart rate, very slow and shallow breathing, or a coma. The combination of buspirone and alcohol could potentially cause these symptoms, especially in a patient who drinks heavily or takes a high dose of the medication. To be on the safe side, the combination may be avoided. Limiting alcohol intake can also be beneficial for some people undergoing treatment for mental health conditions, as they may also have underlying problems with alcohol that need to be addressed.

In other patients, it is reasonably safe to combine buspirone and alcohol. The patient should drink in moderation, and may want to consider doing so in a safe environment to see how the medication interacts with the alcohol. If bad side effects are observed, the patient knows it won’t be safe to drink in the future. When the alcohol doesn’t interfere with the patient’s ability to function, an occasional drink now and then may not be a significant risk.

For liability reasons, a doctor may officially recommend that a patient not combine buspirone and alcohol at all. This is done as a measure of protection, so that if the patient does combine the two and experiences a bad reaction, the doctor can say the patient was advised not to do this. Patients with questions about drinking and medications may want to be aware of this, and should ask specifically about the number of drinks that may be safe to consume.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Mar 07, 2014

Buspirone causes drunkenness very easily. Even someone with a very high alcohol tolerance can become totally drunk with one or two drinks while on this medication. One loses motor control, becomes dizzy and drowsy. It's very easy to become very ill by combining buspirone with alcohol.

By ZipLine — On Mar 07, 2014

@literally45-- There is a general consensus among doctors that it is better, and in some cases necessary, to avoid alcohol when using antidepressants.

That being said, every antidepressant or every anti-anxiety medication is not the same. Some are more dangerous when mixed with alcohol. So a doctor may allow you to drink once in a while one medication but not on another. Please listen to your doctor when it comes to these matters.

I personally avoid alcohol altogether when I'm on antidepressants, even if my doctor allows me to drink. This is because I'm very sensitive and I always experience side effects from medications and alcohol.

By literally45 — On Mar 06, 2014

I don't understand why every doctor does not have the same opinion about combining buspirone and alcohol.

I was on a different antidepressant before and my doctor allowed me to drink moderately while on it. My new doctor does not allow me to drink while on buspirone. I don't understand why. If it's harmful then doctors should give the same advice instead of confusing us.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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