What happens when someone decides to stop using Wellbutrin? Will they develop painful symptoms? Can Wellbutrin withdrawal be harmful? As is so often the case when we talk about prescription medications, the level of danger and discomfort that may accompany Wellbutrin withdrawal can vary depending on a host of individual factors.
What is Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is the brand name of a prescription medication. The generic version of Wellbutrin is bupropion. Wellbutrin is typically prescribed to treat people who have depression. It primarily treats major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. It is also used to help people quit smoking.
Wellbutrin is classified as an atypical antidepressant. This means that it doesn’t fit into one of the four most common categories of antidepressants: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Wellbutrin affects how the central nervous system reabsorbs two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine:
- Also known as noradrenaline, norepinephrine is associated with alertness and attention. It plays a central role in the body’s “fight or flight” response to threats. It can also impact a person’s mood and their sleep/wake cycle.
- Dopamine is a brain chemical that is closely associated with feelings of pleasure. A person’s dopamine levels can also affect their mood, attention, motivation, and capacity for learning, as well as how their body processes pain.
Two benefits of Wellbutrin are that using this medication does not typically cause weight gain, nor is it associated with sexual dysfunction. These are common side effects of SSRIs and some other antidepressants.
Some people who have depression take Wellbutrin only. However, others take it in combination with another antidepressant.
Is Wellbutrin Addictive?
When you take Wellbutrin as directed by a qualified healthcare provider, the likelihood that you will become addicted to this medication is low. However, if you misuse or abuse Wellbutrin, you can put yourself at risk for several negative outcomes. Some of the dangers of Wellbutrin abuse include overdose and addiction.
A September 2014 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that some people abuse bupropion (the generic name of Wellbutrin) for recreational purposes. This article noted that, at elevated dosage levels, Wellbutrin can cause effects that are similar to, but less intense than, cocaine.
The CMAJ article also described the following potential effects of Wellbutrin overdose:
- Sinus tachycardia
- Ventricular dysrhythmia
- Cardiovascular collapse
If a person’s Wellbutrin abuse turns into an addiction, the compulsion to use this drug can negatively impact virtually all areas of their life. And if they try to stop using the drug on their own, they may be prevented from doing so by the distress of Wellbutrin withdrawal.
Does Going Off Wellbutrin Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal is a common characteristic of addiction. Once a person’s body has become dependent on a substance, it will adapt to the presence of the drug. When the drug is not present for any reason (including that the person is trying to end their substance abuse), the body may react with a variety of painful symptoms. This experience, which is known as withdrawal, may include both physical and psychological discomfort.
Withdrawal typically occurs when a person abruptly stops using a drug. If you have been using Wellbutrin as directed by your doctor, and you are ready to stop using it, your doctor can advise you how to taper your use of the medication. By using Wellbutrin at progressively smaller dosage levels, you allow your body to gradually adapt to the presence of less Wellbutrin. This can prevent you from developing Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms.
However, if you have been abusing bupropion, or if you suddenly stop taking the medication without consulting with your doctor, you may have a difficult time.
Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms
- Generalized pain or achiness
- Excessive perspiration
- Agitation and irritability
- Suicidal thoughts
The type and severity of Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms can vary. This depends on several factors, including how long a person has been using the drug, if they were abusing it a high dosage level, or if they had been taking moderate doses under the supervision of a qualified professional.
When someone tries to stop using Wellbutrin on their own, these withdrawal symptoms can quickly cause them to abandon their efforts to end their substance abuse. This is one of the many reasons why a detoxification program may be the best choice for someone who wants to stop abusing Wellbutrin.
Detoxification, or detox, is a short-term program that is staffed by experts who can keep people safe and relatively comfortable throughout the withdrawal process. Here are just a few benefits of detox:
- While you are in detox, you won’t have access to Wellbutrin, which eliminates the risk that you will relapse before you complete withdrawal
- Depending on which types of Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms you experience, the professionals who care for you while you’re in detox may offer medical and/or therapeutic support.
- Once your withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you can transition directly from detox into the next phase of treatment.
The care you receive after detox can help you learn how to resist relapse. It can also help you protect your recovery, and build a healthier future for yourself. When you get the right type and level of treatment, you can develop the skills that will empower you to resolve conflicts, manage stress, and deal with other challenging circumstances without resorting to Wellbutrin abuse.
Safely Withdraw From Wellbutrin in Los Angeles, California
If the pain of Wellbutrin withdrawal has prevented you from ending your abuse of this medication, the LA Detox team is here for you. At our center in Los Angeles, California, you can receive personalized treatment from a team of compassionate professionals in a safe and highly supportive environment. Contact us today to learn more.