Addiction to prescription medication is a problem that impacts the lives of millions of people every day. Many people believe prescription drug dependency is only a risk when dealing with opiates, but that isn’t true. Addiction is a risk for nearly any prescription drug. For instance, while Wellbutrin is not a narcotic, abuse of the medication has lead many people to an unhealthy dependency problem. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in cases of Wellbutrin addiction, but there is help for those suffering from this condition.

Wellbutrin Addiction

What is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is a very commonly prescribed antidepressant. Wellbutrin is an aminoketone, which work differently from opiates. Narcotics work by binding themselves to opiod receptors in your brain. Through the process of binding, they instigate a feeling of pain relief and give the user a rush of dopamine that makes them feel extremely euphoric. Aminoketones, on the other hand, directly affect the levels of dopamine and norepinenephrine, a neurotransmitter that affects blood pressure, in your body to help combat symptoms of depression.

What is the History of Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Nariman Mehta invented bupropion for Burroughs Wellcome, now known as GSK, in 1969. They got a patent for the drug in 1975, and the FDA approved it for use as an antidepressant in 1985. At that point in time, bupropion started being marketed as Wellbutrin. Back then, the normal dosage amount was dangerously high at around 400 to 600mg per day. As a result, many users were experiencing harmful seizures, and Wellbutrin needed to be taken off the market as a safety measure. It was reintroduced in 1989 under the new guidelines that prescription dosage must not exceed 450mg a day.

In 1996, Wellbutrin SR was approved by the FDA. The SR formulation was designed to have a sustained release to necessitate only two pills a day instead of three. The SR formulation was surpassed in 2003 when Wellbutrin XL was created and approved by the FDA. Pills with the XL formula only needed to be taken once a day. Additionally, in 2006, the XL formulation was approved for use as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder. In 1997, the Zyban version of bupropion was approved for use as a smoking cessation aid.

Today, Wellbutrin is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications in the western world.

How is Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Used?

Wellbutrin is usually prescribed for depression, seasonal affective disorder and smoking cessation, but it has also been used to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder. The medication comes in tablet form and is taken orally once or twice a day, depending on the dosage and prescription. It is usually prescribed in 75 to 450mg doses. Dosage never exceeds 450mg. Any more than that runs a risk of causing seizures. Wellbutrin tablets are only meant to be swallowed whole. Tablets that are broken, pulverized in a pill crusher or chewed run a higher risk of causing seizures in the user. Wellbutrin has a half-life of at least 21 hours, but some users may experience up to 30 hours of effects before noticing the drug wearing off.

How Does Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Treat Addiction?

Interestingly, while Wellbutrin can be addictive itself, it’s also useful for treating certain types of addiction. Most specifically, it is used to treat nicotine addiction. Typically marketed as Zyban when being prescribed for this purpose, Wellbutrin helps reduce cravings in people who are trying to quit smoking, and it also helps reduce the negative symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, making the process of quitting easier.

How is Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Addictive?

Wellbutrin addiction is not very common, but there is still a risk, especially if you have certain side effects or if you take a particularly high dose. Since Wellbutrin affects your levels of dopamine, euphoric effects such as those experienced when taking opiates are possible. Large doses of Wellbutrin may also act as a stimulant, similar to amphetamines.

What are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Use of Wellbutrin, especially in high doses, comes with a risk of certain side effects. The most dangerous of these side effects is seizures. The risk of seizures in most people is about 0.1% when taking normal dosage amounts. However, if the medication is being abused or if you’re at a higher risk of seizures, you may experience seizures as a side effect.

To help avoid seizures as much as possible, never take Wellbutrin in any form if you have epilepsy, a brain tumor, head trauma, anorexia, bulimia or if you’re taking any drugs that also come with a risk of seizures such as antipsychotics, steroids or other antidepressants.

Less severe but more common side effects include headache, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, increased blood pressure, fever, dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety, constipation, blurry vision, diarrhea and vomiting.

While rare, Wellbutrin also comes with a risk of some severe side effects besides seizures such as confusion, weight loss, heart palpitations, psoriasis, paranoia, joint pain, fainting and jaundice. Like many antidepressants, Wellbutrin also comes with the risk of suicidal thoughts. Alert your doctor immediately if you start experiencing any severe side effects.

What are the Overdose Risks of Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

When following the instructions of a doctor on dosage amounts, your risk of overdose will be very minimal. However, there are cases of accidental overdose and purposeful abuse of the drug that carry significant overdose risks. Overdosing on Wellbutrin may result in hallucinations, multiple severe seizures, tachycardia and, in extremely severe circumstances, possibly death.

If you or a loved one is currently suffering from Wellbutrin addiction, contact Long Island Interventions. They can provide you with plenty of information and connections to trusted and professional resources to get you started on your journey to recovery whenever you’re ready.

Published on: 2022-11-29
Updated on: 2024-04-10