Medications are sometimes used in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing the use of stimulants such as nicotine and, more recently, methamphetamine. One of them is Wellbutrin, a drug with bupropion as the active ingredient. If you’re struggling with stimulant dependence or addiction, you should seek professional help.
Your treatment team may recommend this drug depending on your specific circumstances. However, you should be aware that even though bupropion can be helpful for people going through withdrawal, it can be harmful if misused. Let’s examine how treatment professionals may use Wellbutrin for stimulant withdrawal.
What Is Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is an antidepressant medication that is used to treat several conditions. Food and Drug Administration-approved medical uses for Wellbutrin include treatment of major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder. However, the drug is also used off-label to alleviate symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, and obesity. In addition, a brand of bupropion called Zyban is used as an off-label medication-assisted treatment for nicotine addiction.
How Bupropion Treats Addiction
Bupropion has been used successfully to help people who want to stop smoking. Though it doesn’t contain nicotine, it can reduce cravings for tobacco and relieve symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. However, people who use bupropion are likely to successfully stop smoking if they also use nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum.
Bupropion isn’t right for everybody. It is recommended for people over the age of 18 who smoke ten or more cigarettes each day. Individuals who want to quit smoking should start taking bupropion one to two weeks before they quit and for 7 to 12 weeks after they quit. Still, some people may take Bupropion safely for six months to a year after they quit. Taking the drug before ceasing smoking helps to stabilize the body before it becomes deprived of nicotine.
Meanwhile, research suggests that Wellbutrin can reduce withdrawal symptoms in people who are dependent on crystal meth. It appears that it can reduce cravings especially when the methamphetamine use disorder is mild or moderate.
Bupropion Dosing and Half-Life
Dosing may vary from one person to another. However, in individuals who want to quit smoking, doctors, typically prescribe one 150 milligram tablet daily for three days. After that, the dose is increased to a maximum of 300 mg daily with eight hours between doses. Bupropion pills are designed to be swallowed whole. If they are cut, chewed, or crushed, the user may be at increased risk of developing seizures.
The half-life of bupropion – the time it takes for half the dosage to leave the body – varies according to the individual’s metabolism. However, the average is 21 hours. It, therefore, takes eight days for the body to get enough of the drug to bring about relief from nicotine withdrawal and reduce tobacco cravings.
Can Bupropion Be Abused?
Some people abuse Wellbutrin because it has stimulant properties. When the pills are crushed and snorted or injected and taken in high doses, the effects are similar to those of cocaine. Since the drug can’t be released gradually when taken in this way, the brain experiences a sudden rush.
Addiction to Wellbutrin isn’t common but it can happen. It is especially likely to occur in people who aren’t taking it for medical purposes but people who take it as prescribed can also become addicted. Individuals who take Wellbutrin for a long time, whether with a prescription or without, can experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking it. This is because the body gets used to the presence of a certain amount of the drug and dependence develops.
Wellbutrin Withdrawal and Timeline
Medical professionals don’t advise individuals to suddenly stop taking bupropion. Instead, they recommend a tapering schedule for Wellbutrin. Therefore, if you’re considering discontinuing your Wellbutrin treatment, you should talk to your doctor about gradually reducing your dosage. Cold-turkey cessation is only recommended for individuals who experience seizures when taking the drug
Tapering off your dosage gives your body time to respond to smaller and smaller amounts of the drug. Slowly coming off Wellbutrin over a longer period also reduces the likelihood of serious withdrawal symptoms.
Common Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty tolerating warm temperatures
- Excessive sweating
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sleep changes
- Trouble balancing
- Suicidal thoughts
The duration of withdrawal varies from person to person. Some individuals get relief from their symptoms in just a few days while others may need several weeks. A lot depends on how long the individual was taking the drug. However, there’s no evidence that individuals who are dependent on Wellbutrin experience protracted or post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Bupropion withdrawal symptoms are clearly unpleasant but they are not typically life-threatening. Your doctor or another member of your treatment team may recommend medically-supervised detox to help you cope during the process.
Treatment of Wellbutrin Addiction
Entering a facility for the purpose of detox ensures that experts can monitor you and offer support as you taper off your dosage. If you need to detox from other substances, you’ll also get the help you need. Detox programs are short-term interventions. They are designed to prepare the mind and body for the next stage of recovery. Therefore, they don’t address the social or psychological issues that caused the addiction to develop in the first place.
That’s why detox is only the beginning of the road towards recovery. You will need to enter a treatment program to prevent you from using drugs again. Many people enter a residential treatment program after detox and then continue their recovery in an outpatient program or group or individual counseling.
Inpatient programs are highly structured and they provide a high level of support. Depending on the severity of the addiction, they can last for anywhere from 28 days to several months. During this time, individuals live in a recovery center and they participate in a variety of treatments designed to help them cope with challenges and avoid relapse.
Meanwhile, outpatient programs allow people in recovery to continue living at home while they receive treatment. They need to visit the treatment facility a scheduled number of times per week. This type of program is best suited for individuals with a mild addiction who have a supportive home environment. Outpatient care can also be a step down from a more intensive residential program.
Some facilities offer a partial hospitalization program. This is a moderately intensive outpatient program that includes medical supervision, behavioral therapies, life skills training, and psychiatric services if necessary. Self-help group programs such as SMART Recovery or Narcotics Anonymous can also be helpful since many people find peer support to be invaluable.
Find Out If Our Luxury Treatment Facility is Right for You
Circle of Hope Rehab offers a variety of treatment options for individuals struggling with stimulant addiction. Based on your needs, we can offer medication and therapy for long-term recovery. We know that each client is different.
While some need buprenorphine and bupropion for stimulant withdrawal management, others need something else entirely. If you want to access customized treatment that will help you to overcome your addiction, we are here to help. Contact us today to verify your insurance or ask questions about the services we offer.