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Bupropion Addiction

This entry was posted in Addiction on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

We are aware of other solutions at Alternative to Meds Center that are better than living your life dependent on bupropion, and struggling with the burden of bupropion addiction.

Bupropion is a powerful stimulant to the central nervous system and may have a high potential for dependence and abuse, leaving many users with a need for bupropion addiction help after long-term use. Bupropion comes in immediate-release and sustained-release formats.3,4

Do Your Symptoms Require Bupropion?

This drug works on the spinal cord and the brain directly by causing interference with normal neurotransmissions. Neurotransmitters are naturally produced chemical substances created in the nerve cells and used to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters send and receive messages to regulate and influence our thinking and virtually all of the other systems of the body. Bupropion affects a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Bupropion also affects another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, in ways that are not completely understood.1,2,5-7

At Alternative to Meds Center, our drug treatment program addresses neurotransmitters that have been adversely affected by prescription medications or other drugs.

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How Does Bupropion Affect Dopamine, the Reward Chemical?

bupropion affects dopamine levelsDopamine is a part of the natural reward system. For example, feeling good when doing a good job, feeling pleasure from family or other social interactions, feeling that our lives have purpose and feeling content, all rely on the transmission of dopamine. A synthetic drug, such as bupropion, accelerates the metabolism of dopamine, which uses it all up. Thus, a deficit can occur. And, this can contribute to a high risk for bupropion dependence. The drug is prescribed legally in the form of capsules and pills by psychiatrists and medical doctors or family physicians. However, when a person decides they want to come off of it and encounters bupropion withdrawal, or starts to notice that they feel like they need to take more of the medication to obtain the same effect, they may have become tolerant and physically dependent on it. At this point, a person may need to go through some form of bupropion rehab to completely recover from their physical dependence on the drug.

Effects of Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibition

When it comes to the part that reuptake inhibition (increased activation) of the neurochemical norepinephrine plays, after many years of study and discussion, this remains largely ignored by drug proponents. According to Ascher et al in their review on the mechanics of bupropion, 11 experts concluded that the effects of increased activation of norepinephrine could be somehow linked to adrenaline but no other conclusions could be reached.8

However, let us look at what is known. Norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) is a natural hormone, and a chemical messenger that stimulates or excites certain functions, nerve cells, and organs in the body. When medication suppresses or inhibits its reuptake, this increases its immediate effect. This is why giving a patient adrenaline in various forms can be essential to revive a drug overdosed person, prevent fatality in someone experiencing allergic shock, or after blood flow has been stopped as in cardiac arrest.9

Liabilities of Bupropion Addiction & Abuse

Abusers of bupropion may suffer its effects occasionally with recreational use, and more acutely in cases of bupropion addiction. Clinical reports describe bupropion’s effects as similar to cocaine or amphetamines, especially at higher dosages. Wellbutrin and other brand names of bupropion have been documented in overdose cases after oral ingestion, and as a result of insufflation (recreational snorting). Bupropion addiction is not limited to recreational use. It is a drug with addictive properties. Case reports show that bupropion abuse resulted in drug-induced seizures, tachycardia, agitation, and hallucinations.10,11

How Does Addiction to Bupropion Occur?

Many individuals feel safer if they are relying on a medication that their doctor has given to them, making it much harder to realize, recognize and confront bupropion addiction behaviors. This can make it much easier to be in denial about their growing problem. All drugs that are addictive seem to have two commonalities: they initially produce a pleasurable effect, which is followed by an unpleasant rebound effect. Bupropion, through its stimulating effects, produces positive feelings but leaves the person feeling depressed later. A person also becomes tolerant to drug effects over time. As a result, the user demands more of the medication to feel good, or even just to feel normal. This cycle of pleasure and pain often leads to losing control over the drug and physical addiction. Our bupropion cessation program can help effectively soften the effects of withdrawal, as well as address the reasons why a person started taking this medication in the first place with bupropion addiction help.

Bupropion Addiction and Loss of Control of One’s Life

bupropion multiple withdrawal symptomsAntidepressant addiction can take over a person’s life. It short-circuits the person’s system of survival by producing artificial stimulation in the reward center, the pleasure areas of the brain. This can lead to increased confidence in the drug and decreased confidence in life’s normal rewards. This occurs physically at first, but then usually begins affecting the user psychologically as well. This results in a decreasing interest in other parts of life, but interest and reliance on bupropion increases. Bupropion withdrawal is also an important aspect of this addiction. The severity of the symptoms and length of the withdrawal can vary with how much damage has been done to the natural reward system from drug use. Some most common symptoms include extreme irritability, drug craving, energy loss, fearfulness, depression, paranoia, difficulty sleeping, shaking, sweating, nausea, hyperventilation, increased appetite, weight gain, and palpitations. Bupropion addiction treatment helps to greatly diminish uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal and helps to regain control over one’s life.

Finding Non-Drug Treatments for Unwanted Symptoms

People are usually first put on antidepressant drugs without there being any substantial amount of effort to try to find out why they are feeling depressed or why they are suffering other symptoms like fatigue or day-time sleepiness that could have led to bupropion addiction. As well as being prescribed for depression, bupropion is also prescribed for stopping smoking, for children with ADHD type symptoms, and numerous other off-label uses.

Depression can occur following an event that is emotionally traumatic for them, such as loss of a spouse, loss of a job, or following a period of poor nutrition, exposure to toxic chemicals, high stress, or other trauma or life circumstance that has left some negative impact upon someone. Without addressing these ACTUAL CONTRIBUTORS to the person’s condition, years may pass and they still take the drug. Yet, they will suffer from withdrawal if they try to quit. We focus on discovering what the real medical or other causes are for why a person is depressed, and address those.

Bupropion Addiction Treatment that Leads to Natural Mental Health

stabilize brain chemistryAt Alternative to Meds Center, our bupropion addiction help program employs lab testing and other assessments to start to identify these potential causes. The use of natural substances can stabilize neurochemistry. It is also vitally important to remove the built-up neurotoxins that may have contributed to the person’s original symptoms. Alternative to Meds Center’s drug treatment program provides medical supervision to help people decrease their dependence upon psychiatric drugs, other drugs, or alcohol. To combat depression while the person is decreasing their medication dependency in a gentle and tolerable way, we provide many holistic therapies including targeted nutritional therapy, medication withdrawal techniques, massage therapy, yoga, peer support, mild exercise, personal training, and many other therapies to ensure that bupropion addiction treatment is successful.

1. Stan K Bardal, BSc (Pharm), MBA, PhD, and Douglas Martin, Phd in Applied Psychiatry, “Noradrenaline and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs),” Science Direct, published online [cited 2018 Oct 20]

2. Stephan M Stahl, et al., “A Review of the Neuropharmacology of Bupropion, a Dual Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor,” US Library of Medicine, published online 2004 [cited 2018 Oct 20]

3. FDA label Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) tablets for oral consumption [approval 1985] [cited October 17 2023]

4. FDA Prescribing/Product Information Wellbutrin SR (sustained-release) tablets [approval March 2001 [cited October 17 2023]

5. >Huecker MR, Smiley A, Saadabadi A. Bupropion. [Updated 2023 Apr 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: [cited October 17 2023]

6. Nomikos GG, Damsma G, Wenkstern D, Fibiger HC. Acute effects of bupropion on extracellular dopamine concentrations in rat striatum and nucleus accumbens studied by in vivo microdialysis. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989 Dec;2(4):273-9. doi: 10.1016/0893-133x(89)90031-6. PMID: 2482026. [cited October 17 2023]

7. Smith MD, Maani CV. Norepinephrine. [Updated 2023 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: [cited October 17 2023]

8. Ascher JA, Cole JO, Colin JN, Feighner JP, Ferris RM, Fibiger HC, Golden RN, Martin P, Potter WZ, Richelson E, et al. Bupropion: a review of its mechanism of antidepressant activity. J Clin Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;56(9):395-401. PMID: 7665537. [cited Oct 18 2023]

9. Simons FER, Simons KJ. Epinephrine (adrenaline) in anaphylaxis. Chem Immunol Allergy. 2010;95:211-222. doi: 10.1159/000315954. Epub 2010 Jun 1. PMID: 20519893. [cited Oct 18 2023]

10. Ryan Anderson. Bupropion: The “Poor Man’s Cocaine” published by LeHigh Valley Health Network [Jan 23, 2019] [cited Oct 18 2023]

11. Lewis JC, Sutter ME, Albertson TE, Owen KP, Ford JB. An 11-year review of bupropion insufflation exposures in adults reported to the California Poison Control System. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2014 Nov;52(9):969-72. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2014.969372. Epub 2014 Oct 13. PMID: 25308323.[cited Oct 18 2023]

Originally Published by Lyle Murphy, Founder Published Nov 4, 2019

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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Bupropion Addiction
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