Drug and Alcohol

Wellbutrin Withdrawal: Symptoms, Signs, and Timeline

Wellbutrin Withdrawal: Get the Facts Today

Wellbutrin withdrawal is a symptom of Wellbutrin abuse. Learn more about bupropion abuse: a lesser-known yet still dangerous form of drug addiction.

Bupropion, prescribed under the names Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Zyban, and others, is an antidepressant medication used to treat a wide variety of mood disorders, including depression and ADHD. It’s different from SSRIs like Prozac and SNRIs like Cymbalta: Wellbutrin increases the level of dopamine in the brain. This is similar to many other illicit drugs such as opioids and stimulants.

Wellbutrin is thought to have a low potential for abuse. However, in large enough doses, it can produce effects similar to stimulants. When thinking about bupropion abuse, it’s important to remember something important:

“Prescription drug” does not mean “impossible to abuse,” however.

Wellbutrin Abuse: What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is a common form of drug abuse. Indeed, prescription abuse has often been a gateway to street drugs. The current opioid overdose epidemic is testimony to that; many people who used heroin and other street drugs did so after being unable to get prescription painkillers like Oxycontin.

The phrase “drug abuse” isn’t about this substance or that substance, it describes a variety of behaviors. Drug abuse includes:

  • Deliberately taking a higher dose of a prescription drug

  • Trading prescriptions with another person

  • Trying to obtain the same prescription from different doctors (“doctor shopping”)

  • Mixing a prescription drug with other drugs

  • Using a prescription drug when you don’t need to

This article explores Wellbutrin withdrawal and abuse, a lesser-known yet still highly dangerous form of substance abuse.

What Is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is a medicinal drug used for various conditions, including depression, anxiety, and even hypersomnia. As such, this drug has helped many millions to get better and live healthy and productive lives. Yet, ironically, Wellbutrin is abused as an addictive drug for recreational use since it is also widely recommended by health professionals for helping people who are trying to quit smoking tobacco.

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What Is Wellbutrin Used For?

An Indian-born American scientist invented Wellbutrin, which was marketed as early as the 1980s. It was recalled quickly due to incorrect dosage values being prescribed and then reintroduced to the public in 1989. Over the years, it has gained popularity in the medical fraternity as a potent aid to controlling anxiety and depression-related disorders while also proving effective as a smoking inhibitor.

Unlike other such medications that found infamy due to their efficacy in providing hallucinations and other "trippy" effects, Wellbutrin was popularized in environments where addicted individuals did not have ready access to better drugs. Prisons are the foremost among them.

In prisons and correctional facilities where individuals did not get their hands on the likes of Haldol or Vicodin, Wellbutrin gained popularity as a recreational drug. From there, it found a niche on the street as a weak (and cheaper) alternative to more popular drugs.

Wellbutrin has a low potential for abuse, but there have been reports of people abusing bupropion.

How Does Wellbutrin Work?

Wellbutrin, like many prescription drugs, has helped many people. Some use it to treat depression; it's also a drug that's helpful in treating nicotine addiction. It mimics, however weakly, the effects of far worse substances such as heroin and cocaine.

Many researchers have studied this strange dichotomy, and almost all of them have reached a somewhat philosophical conclusion; that it is not the drug but rather the application and intent behind its use that ultimately decides what its effect will eventually be. Some among us may claim that the same could be said of any number of addictive substances. After all, cocaine and morphine are regularly used by doctors in various forms to alleviate pain. In fact, up until as recently as the 1930s, cocaine was used as a cough medication for children.

The difference in this particular situation is that this drug does not share the extremely addictive qualities that those other drugs possess.

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Is Wellbutrin Dangerous When Mixed with Other Drugs?

Yes. Wellbutrin has many harmful interactions with other drugs, many of which are dangerous on their own. Here is a partial list of drugs that may interact dangerously with Wellbutrin:

  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

  • Klonopin (Clonazepam), Valium (Diazepam), Ativan ( Lorazepam), and Xanax (Alprazolam)

  • Cocaine

  • Ambien (Zolpidem)

  • Librium (Chlordiazepoxide)

  • Methamphetamine

  • Opioid drugs including OxyContin (Oxycodone), codeine, heroin, fentanyl, and morphine)

Signs of Wellbutrin Addiction

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant, and as such, it is unique in many ways in that it does not affect sexual functions nor adversely affects weight. It also has very mild side effects when taken in prescribed doses. It can, however, have some severe reactions when taken in larger doses, including seizures and even heart failure. It is also known to have some extreme reactions in certain individuals.

One of the most common side effects is a rise in blood pressure. This, along with excessive sweating, has been reported by most of those who complained of side effects when using the drug under controlled conditions.

When used as a recreational drug, Wellbutrin has been compared to cocaine and heroin but with a less intense high. It is described as feeling like one has had a small dose of cocaine that has been diluted with baby formula. Most users of Wellbutrin will attest to using it only as a replacement or alternative to their drug of choice. They almost always concur that it is not their first choice since, by its very nature, it produces a far less intense high

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Can Wellbutrin Be Toxic?

Wellbutrin toxicity is well documented, and even though it doesn't affect a large proportion of abusers, it does serve as a cautionary tale for those who choose to do so. The biggest threat from Wellbutrin toxicity is seizures. When abused in large amounts, the drug induces extremely violent seizures that have been reported as having broken bones from the flailing cause of the seizures. Wellbutrin abuse has also been reported to cause cardiac failure in some patients.

Finally, excessive use of Wellbutrin has some adverse effects on the brain and the body. Several liver and kidney failure cases have also been attributed to long-term drug abuse.

Is There a Way to Withdraw Safely From Wellbutrin?

Yes. If you’ve been taking Wellbutrin for a long time, you will need to taper off carefully to avoid harmful withdrawal symptoms. Here’s an example: according to Wellbutrin’s packaging, a person who is taking higher doses of the drug (such as 300 mg of Wellbutrin or higher) should taper off before stopping Wellbutrin entirely. In general, a person should lower their daily use of Wellbutrin to around 150 mg.

Tapering off from any drug should always be done with professional help. The Edge Treatment Center will help you withdraw safely from Wellbutrin.

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Wellbutrin Withdrawal: The Facts About Withdrawing From Wellbutrin

As is with most antidepressants, sudden stoppage of Wellbutrin leads to a rise in irritability and depression, and in some cases, it presents with severe joint aches as well. This is known as Wellbutrin withdrawal. The good news is that Wellbutrin does not cause extreme addiction.

In most cases, people who are addicted to the drug can cease the habit with proper care from trained professionals. What requires work is the depression that usually follows a cessation of the intake of the drug. No matter what the drug is, withdrawal symptoms can be difficult for patients to overcome and requires expert psychotherapy and medication.

Left unchecked, it can lead to suicidal tendencies coupled with severe anxiety and sometimes paranoid behavior as well.

When Does Wellbutrin Withdrawal Start?

About 30 percent of all those who consume Wellbutrin are thought to suffer some form of withdrawal after they cease using the drug. Although a symptom may appear within a few days after you quit using Wellbutrin, it is more common for them to be severe during the first week or two.

Most persons who experience Wellbutrin withdrawal describe feeling sorrowful, agitated, and nervous. It’s worth pointing out that withdrawal symptoms are far more likely in cases of long-term Wellbutrin use.

What Are Welbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Some Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Sweating

  • Nausea

More severe Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Heavy sweating

  • Harmful behaviors

  • Intense headaches

  • Suicidal ideation

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms: A Timeline

Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms can last up to several months since drug abuse itself is not the entire problem. For many, drug addiction is fueled by trauma, mental disorders, and more. The depression and suicidal tendencies sometimes caused by Wellbutrin withdrawal make the experience difficult. Drug treatment can be a long and challenging process that requires patience.

Unfortunately, patience is often a quality that's hard to find in addiction treatment. A good drug rehab teaches its patients that recovery isn't a race. Effectively treating Wellbutrin addiction requires time and work.

At a professional drug detox center or drug rehab, medical professionals will gradually taper you off Wellbutrin. This is always the best way to treat addiction and this is why you should never attempt to quit Wellbutrin by yourself.

However, for the purposes of this blog, we'll explain what Wellbutrin withdrawal is like if you took the "cold turkey" approach:

A Rough Timeline for Wellbutrin Withdrawal

Everybody's experience is different when detoxing from Wellbutrin. Again, these effects tend to happen (or be more intense) if you take a cold turkey approach where you stop using bupropion without tapering off:

  • Wellbutrin Withdrawal After 1 to 3 Days: The first thing you should know is you're at serious risk for seizures during this early period of Wellbutrin withdrawal. You'll also experience intense flu-like symptoms along with emotional disturbances and intense mood swings. Disordered thinking is also a common symptom.

  • Wellbutrin Withdrawal During the First Week: You're going to be exhausted and sleepy. Expect to feel depression, mental confusion, and body aches as well during this period.

  • Wellbutrin Withdrawal During the Second Week: By now, most of the physical symptoms have worn off. But the mental symptoms, including sleep disturbances, depression, and nightmares, are still persistent after bupropion use stops.

  • Wellbutrin Withdrawal During the Third and Fourth Weeks: Depressive symptoms can be very persistent, and if you're not participating in a guided withdrawal from Wellbutrin during this time, you might be tempted to go back to Wellbutrin use for relief. Also, don't be surprised if you gain a little weight during this time. Your appetite has come back.

Remember, detoxing from Wellbutrin with professional help makes this process easier, safer, and more likely to be successful.

Coping with Wellbutrin Withdrawal

There are some highly effective ways to cope with Wellbutrin withdrawal, and numerous cases attest to the success of these therapies. A holistic approach that includes psychotherapy, medicinal intervention, and a range of activities that occupy and stimulate patients' minds is greatly effective. Most treatment centers for Wellbutrin addiction will ensure that patients are constantly given positive reinforcement and participate in life-affirming activities that give quick boosts to their sense of achievement.

In addition, they are encouraged to participate in activities requiring them to be physically active so that they naturally excrete the drug through increased physical activity while also providing them the "natural high" from the sense of achievement when they complete an activity.

Wellbutrin Withdrawal During Pregnancy

Most physicians don’t prescribe medications and antidepressants during pregnancy due to complications. However, if you are taking Wellbutrin during your pregnancy, please talk to a medical professional before stopping your dose. There may be serious risks. There also may be benefits to continuing your prescription.

If you find yourself using Wellbutrin in a dangerous matter, though, please let your doctor know. Also, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center for advice and resources.

Will My Depression Come Back if I Stop Taking Wellbutrin?

Relapse depression is unfortunately common when a person stops taking antidepressants like Wellbutrin. In general, depression symptoms tend to return around two weeks after Wellbutrin use stops. While everybody experiences depression differently, in general depression causes people to feel tired, have a persistent low mood, feelings of hopelessness, and problems with appetite and sleeping.

It’s always best to consult a medical professional when planning to change your antidepressant prescription. The Edge Treatment Center can also help you treat your depression. We also offer effective drug-free ways to treat depression and other mood disorders.

Wellbutrin Withdrawal: How Drug Detox Helps

Treatment for Wellbutrin addiction starts with drug detox. During Wellbutrin detox, patients are slowly tapered off from the drug. This makes Wellbutrin withdrawal far easier.  For your security and well-being, this procedure should be carried out under the direction of a medical expert at a drug detox center.

Your circumstances will determine whether you ought to reduce dosage gently or rapidly. Wellbutrin should not be abruptly stopped since this could result in severe withdrawal symptoms. The "cold turkey" approach almost always ends in failure.

How to Choose a Wellbutrin Addiction Treatment Center

While addiction to Wellbutrin is rare, it does occur. Finding the right center to treat Wellbutrin abuse is critically important. If you’re also dealing with co-occurring mental disorders, finding help for Wellbutrin addiction is extremely important.

The Edge Treatment Center will help you break your addiction to Wellbutrin. We’ll work with you to develop an effective, evidence-based treatment plan for Wellbutrin addiction.

Can Wellbutrin Withdrawal Be Managed Professionally?

The answer to this question is yes. A drug detox center is a great place to seek help for Wellbutrin withdrawal. Don't try Wellbutrin withdrawal on your own. Withdrawing by yourself, using a drug detox kit for Wellbutrin addiction, or taking the cold turkey approach can be harmful. The Edge Treatment Center will help you find a drug detox center for yourself or a loved one. 

Wellbutrin Withdrawal: Help & Guidance for The Edge Treatment Center Is Always Available

Wellbutrin withdrawal can be very difficult to endure, but it's possible at a drug detox center. The Edge Treatment Center has long-standing relationships with many of the finest drug detox centers in the country. Our trusted relationships allow us to help you find an effective treatment for Wellbutrin withdrawal. This is the best way to start a life free from substance abuse.

When you're ready to enter our outpatient drug rehab, The Edge will help you build a new life free from Wellbutrin addiction. With us, you'll have every resource at hand to beat addiction and develop a life free from bupropion abuse and more.

Don't try to go through Wellbutrin abuse alone. With The Edge Treatment Center, you'll have a true partner in recovery. Reach out to us today to learn more about Wellbutrin addiction, Wellbutrin withdrawal, and a life free from substance abuse.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

February 20, 2023