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 led 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 works differently from opiates. Narcotics work by binding themselves to opioid 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 norepinephrine, 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 600 mg 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 450 mg a day.

In 1996, Wellbutrin SR (sustained-release tablets) 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 (extended-release tablets) 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 major depressive disorder, 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 450 mg doses. Dosage never exceeds 450 mg to avoid the 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 healthcare provider immediately if you start experiencing any severe side effects.

What are the Overdose Risks of Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

When following the instructions of a healthcare provider 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.

Drug Interactions and Precautions

Bupropion can interact with several other medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), thioridazine, carbamazepine, and ritonavir. These interactions can increase the risk of side effects and reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. It is essential to inform your healthcare provider of all the medications and supplements you are taking to avoid any adverse effects.

Who Should Avoid Bupropion?

Individuals with a history of seizure disorders, eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, or those who are currently taking MAOIs or other medications that lower the seizure threshold should avoid bupropion. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before starting bupropion to understand the potential risks and benefits.

Wellbutrin in Young Adults

Young adults prescribed Wellbutrin for major depressive disorder or other conditions should be closely monitored for worsening depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior. The FDA has issued warnings about the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young adults taking antidepressants, including bupropion.

Finding Help for Wellbutrin Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from Wellbutrin addiction, Long Island Interventions can provide you with plenty of information and connections to trusted and professional resources to get you started on your journey to recovery. Our treatment center offers comprehensive care for individuals struggling with addiction, including detoxification, inpatient and outpatient programs, and ongoing support.

Contact Us Today

For more information and professional help, contact Long Island Interventions. Our treatment center provides comprehensive care for individuals struggling with Wellbutrin abuse and addiction. Let us help you or your loved one on the path to recovery.

Published on: 2022-11-29
Updated on: 2024-06-21