Bupropion Addiction Treatment

Giving up cigarettes is never easy but there are medications that can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting; bupropion is an example of one of these. In the below paragraphs you will come to know more about this drug and how it could help you quit smoking for good.

What Is Bupropion?

Bupropion is an antidepressant drug that is typically used to treat conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder. It is also used to help with smoking cessation.

This medication is available on prescription only and is available in tablet form. When used to help with the cessation of smoking, the drug can lower the severity of nicotine withdrawal and can help to reduce cravings. It is recommended for use by smokers who have no history of depression.

When bupropion is used to help with cigarette withdrawal, it can almost double the person’s chances of being successful. A typical course tends to last for around twelve weeks and most people will be ready to quit smoking after around ten days of taking the drug. It is important that the correct dosage of bupropion is administered as low doses can encourage nicotine use instead of discouraging it.

Brand Names

  • Buproban
  • Aplenzin
  • Wellbutrin XL
  • Wellbutrin SR
  • Forfivo XL
  • Budeprion XL
  • Zyban
  • Zyban Advantage Pack
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History of Bupropion

Nariman Mehta, a scientist at Burroughs Wellcome – which is now GlaxoSmithKline – designed, synthesised, and patented Bupropion. He and a team of scientists were trying to find a compound that could act as an antidepressant with reduced side effects.

In 1974, bupropion was granted its US patent and was approved for use as an antidepressant by the US FDA in 1985. However, in 1986, the drug was withdrawn as it was suspected of causing epileptic seizures among patients at the recommended dosage. After an investigation, it was found that the incidence of epileptic seizures was dependent on dose; in 1989, the drug was reintroduced for use but at a lower recommended dose.

Bupropion was initially marketed as Wellbutrin and was to be taken three times per day. In 1996, a sustained release version of the drug to be taken twice a day was approved by the FDA. This drug was known as Wellbutrin SR. Another sustained release version (Wellbutrin XL), to be taken once per day, was approved in 2003.

Bupropion was approved for use as a smoking cessation aid in 1997 and was marketed as Zyban. In 2006, Wellbutrin XL was approved for treatment of seasonal affective disorder.

What Substance Abuse/Addictions Is Bupropion Used to Treat?

  • Smoking Addiction

Is Bupropion Addictive?

Bupropion is not considered to be addictive and has a low potential for abuse. Nevertheless, there have been some reports of the drug being used for recreational purposes. Those who abuse the drug tend to crush the pills and snort them with high doses said to cause a stimulant-like effect. Nonetheless, because the drug can cause seizures when taken in large doses, the risk of dangerous side effects is very high.

As well as snorting the drug, those who abuse it often take more pills than the recommended dose, and there have been some reports of people dissolving the drugs in water and then injecting it.

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What Is the Mechanism of Action?

Although the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, it is thought that bupropion works by affecting the neurotransmitters (chemicals) within the brain. In addition, scientists now think that an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain is responsible for conditions such as depression.

The brain tends to recycle released neurotransmitters, a process known as reuptake. Bupropion works by preventing certain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine from being recycled. It is thought that the increase of dopamine at various neuronal sites in the brain is responsible for reducing nicotine cravings.

How Long Does It Take for Bupropion to Work?

For the treatment of nicotine cessation and withdrawal, bupropion is designed to be taken around one to two weeks before smoking is quit completely. The idea behind this is that it allows the medication to build up in your system. Most people will continue taking bupropion for between seven and twelve weeks after they quit smoking, but it can be used for up to a year.

Does Bupropion Have Any Interactions?

Many drugs interact with bupropion. In fact, a total of 773 drugs are known to interact with it, of which 386 can cause a major interaction. It is important to quit nicotine after between one to two weeks, as continued use of it could cause an interaction with bupropion. Simultaneous use of bupropion and nicotine can cause an increase in blood pressure, among other things.

Bupropion can also interact with alcohol and increase the risk of seizures, paranoid delusions, and hallucinations. Use of bupropion should also be carefully considered in patients with the following illnesses:

  • Liver disease
  • Depression
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Seizure disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Manic episodes
  • Renal dysfunction

Should Any Precautions Be Taken?

It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking any medication; this includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, vitamin supplements, and herbal products.

If you have used an MAO inhibitor such as phenelzine, selegiline, methylene blue injection, or isocarboxazid, you should not take bupropion as a dangerous interaction could occur.

Bupropion should not be taken by anyone with an eating disorder, a seizure disorder, or those who have suddenly stopped using alcohol.

Bupropion should not be taken to treat more than one condition. If you are taking it for the treatment of a mental health problem, it should not be used as a smoking cessation aid.

It is not known if bupropion will cause harm to an unborn baby. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you should inform your doctor before taking bupropion. If you fall pregnant while taking it, it is important that you inform your doctor as soon as you find out.

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What Are the Side Effects of Bupropion?

There are quite a few side effects that can occur with bupropion use. Below are a few examples:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Although some symptoms are more common than others and most do not require medical attention, it is important that you consult your doctor if you experience any severe symptoms or if your symptoms persist. You should seek urgent medical attention, however, if you experience the symptoms of an allergic reaction that include:

  • hives
  • swelling of the lips, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • rash
  • chest pain

Can You Just Stop Taking Bupropion?

As bupropion is an antidepressant medication, it is not recommended that your use of it stop suddenly. Speak to your doctor if you want to stop taking your medication, and he or she will recommend a safe way to withdraw. It may be the case that you will begin taking lower doses over the course of two to three weeks before stopping completely.


  • Bupropion is effective for both short- and long-term use.
  • Headaches, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, and insomnia are the most common side effects.
  • If you begin taking higher dosages of the drug, the risk of seizures increases. However, in lower doses, incidences are rare.
  • Bupropion has one of the lowest incidences of weight gain, sexual dysfunction and somnolence when compared to other new antidepressant drugs.
  • Bupropion is effective for use in treating both healthy adult smokers and those who are affected by smoking-related illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease.
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