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Pharmacy and Medications

Wellbutrin Addiction

03/01/2011

Question:

I know that there isn`t alot of literature on this but my (now ex) SO became addicted to Wellbutrin which he was using to induce Mania.  I know of several articles saying this is the drug of choice in most prisons even though it has an "official Low abuse" level. Has anyone ever heard of people (with Bipolar) becomming addicted to this drug?

Answer:

You are correct in that there are few articles about the abuse of bupropion (the ingredient in Wellbutrin). The literature mostly includes case reports of nasal insufflations (snorting) of bupropion and the potential for seizures. Bupropion affects the same receptors as drugs like amphetamines. This is not to say that they are equivalent; however, the theory that they may cause a “high” was first raised during drug trials. There is some literature showing that bupropion does not cause a “high” feeling that abusers would continue to seek relative to other medications.

As far as becoming addicted, there is no indication that bupropion causes a physical dependence. With repeated exposure, receptors in the brain may become regulated to the drug's presence. For this reason, most physicians will not abruptly discontinue bupropion. However, the change in the receptors does not indicate a physical requirement for the drug. Any repeated activity can lead to a psychological addiction.

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Response by:

Michael  Ganio, PharmD Michael Ganio, PharmD
Clinical Applications Pharmacist
Wexner Medical Center
The Ohio State University