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Can Wellbutrin Be Dangerous?

Wellbutrin is the common name for the antidepressant drug bupropion. Bupropion works by improving your feelings of well-being and restoring balance to chemicals in your brain. However, not everyone has the same experience with prescription drugs, and some might experience specific side effects that can be dangerous. Further, any medication used without close supervision or recreational use poses a significant threat to your health and longevity. Learn more about how Wellbutrin can benefit people who suffer from certain conditions but can simultaneously be dangerous for others.

What Is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is in a class of drugs called antidepressants. Wellbutrin is classified as an aminoketone and a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors increase the amount of active and processing neurotransmitters throughout the brain by blocking specific transporter proteins. The blocking of the proteins and increase of the transmitters create concentrations of dopamine and dopaminergic neurotransmissions.


Dopamine is known as the happiness chemical in the brain. It is in charge of making you feel good, and it acts as a messenger between your brain and your body. Increases in dopamine create feelings of well-being and combat depression. Still, dopamine is also an underlying catalyst for addiction and can be dangerous when combined with drug dependency of any kind.


Why Is Wellbutrin Prescribed?

Wellbutrin is typically prescribed to combat depression and similar mental disorders, though it is used in many different treatments.


Depression responds well to Wellbutrin because it is both a stimulant and an antidepressant. It increases the feeling of well-being while adding an influx of energy that is often absent in people who suffer from depression. The burst of lost energy allows people to participate in their former routines once again.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation can be very challenging, especially for long-time addicts. Wellbutrin, also prescribed as the generic name bupropion, is readily used as a combination therapy for smoking cessation. Essentially, Wellbutrin takes the place of nicotine and provides slow-release dopamine hits alongside other smoking cessation therapy. One of the most common complaints of the smoking cessation process is weight gain for many people. While bupropion is not FDA approved for weight loss, it is connected with weight management and is regularly applied to smoking cessation for that reason too.


How Is Wellbutrin Taken?

Wellbutrin is clinically prescribed in pill form. There are many different doses and dose schedules that patients are prescribed. Most Wellbutrin is in extended-release form; the dopamine is released over time rather than in one large amount to help stabilize moods and feelings.


Depending on their specific medical history, some people might take more or less. Most often, Wellbutrin is prescribed to be taken three times a day at 75 milligrams a dose. While Burpriopion does not require food or water for each dose, it is helpful to remember to take your doses with each meal if you are on a three-dose a day schedule: breakfast, lunch, and dinner require a pill.

If you do adhere to a mealtime dosing schedule, be sure that your last pill of the day is not taken too late in the evening. Wellbutrin is known to cause some restlessness if taken too close to bedtime.

What Are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin?

Every prescription drug has some known side effects. The critical thing to remember is that your health care provider deemed the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages of your prescription. However, specific side effects are more dangerous than others while taking Wellbutrin. Speak to your doctor if you or a loved one experiences: 

  • Blurred vision 
  • Seizures 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Manic episodes 
  • Confusion 
  • Suicidal ideations 
  • Eye pain 
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior 

What Is Serotonin Syndrome?

Aside from general side effects, Wellbutrin might also lead to serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome happens when your body has too much serotonin in its system. Seratonin is naturally present in your body and regulates many different functions to keep you healthy and functioning normally.


Many people who suffer from depression or anxiety have lower serotonin levels than others. As a result, doctors will treat anxiety and depression with medications that increase serotonin levels in the body. Prescription medicines combined with over-the-counter medicines can create a dangerous cocktail elevating serotonin levels too high for your body to process. The resulting condition is called serotonin syndrome.


The onset of symptoms may range from almost immediately to a few hours after dosage. The symptoms may be mild or dangerously life-threatening depending on the combination of drugs. For critical responses to serotonin syndrome, call for emergency medical care immediately. Telltale signs of serotonin syndrome include but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizers
  • Irregular heath beat
  • Unconsciousness
  • Kidney failure


The best way to prevent serotonin syndrome is to speak to your doctor candidly about the other medications or drugs you are taking. There are other alternatives to treating anxiety or depression that will not lead to serotonin syndrome in many cases.


The ideal way to treat serotonin syndrome is to accurately and honestly identify all drugs and herbal supplements you are taking, prescribed or otherwise. Once your care team can identify everything that has affected your body systems, they will be able clearly understand how to treat your illness for long-term recovery. Many different causes and other diseases will have to be ruled out in the meantime, so expect a small battery of tests prior to getting a final diagnosis for treatment.

How Is Wellbutrin Habit-Forming?

Contrary to some misconceptions, Wellbutrin is not a narcotic. Unlike narcotics’ mental and physical habit-forming characteristics, bupropion typically only leads to physical dependence. The physicality is only based on withdrawals, serotonin syndrome, and potential side effects, and bupropion is otherwise well-received as an effective prescription treatment. However, unintended stoppages and recreational use can still be dangerous if unapproved and unsupervised.

Unapproved Uses

Recreational use is strictly prohibited. However, illegality has never stopped anyone from using drugs. People who choose to use bupropion recreationally often craft their dosages in three different ways, and each is equally dangerous:

  • Snorting
  • Intravenous
  • High doses

Weight Loss

While weight management is an unintended consequence of Wellbutrin, it is not approved by the FDA. As a result, when not carefully managed, people can overuse Wellbutrin in an attempt to manage weight while in smoking cessation or controlling depression and anxiety. Combined therapies are an adequate way to regulate appropriate uses and inappropriate misuses of Wellbutrin.


What Treatments Are Available for Wellbutrin Addiction?

It is critical to remember that your doctor may have prescribed you Wellbutrin or bupropion without knowing your history of drug and alcohol abuse. As a result, you might need to seek alternative treatment to safely address your needs that require Wellbutrin.

Prescribed Use

For most people, Wellbutrin will not ever develop into a substance abuse problem and is beneficial for managing depression, anxiety, and other disorders despite having potential severe side effects. Many people see life-changing results from combined therapies, including bupropion.

Past Abuse

However, not everyone has a past with drug or alcohol dependency. It is crucial to communicate your needs to your health care provider just like you would share our past medical history, including an open-heart surgery or diabetes. A history of drug and alcohol abuse is just another medical issue that can be treated as anything else.

Since Wellbutrin is both a stimulant and antidepressant, people have been known to use it recreationally and abuse the regular dosage prescribed by medical professionals. Many who abuse bupropion describe the stimulant’s effects in high dosages compared to cocaine. While it is a stimulant, the chemical compounds are wildly different in structure and impact, but both can have dangerous outcomes.

To learn more about treatment options for you or a loved one that might be experiencing signs of Wellbutrin dependency or another addiction, contact Clean Recovery Centers for more information.

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