This medication is also used as an antidepressant, and is thought to work by affecting the part of the brain associated with addiction. Patients report reduced cravings, and, when used in combination with a nicotine replacement product, it can be very successful in helping to maintain smoking cessation.
Type of medication
Commonly used brand names
What bupropion is prescribed for
Bupropion is an antidepressant, but it is also prescribed to help people quit smoking. It can be used in combination with a nicotine replacement product.
How bupropion works:
Bupropion appears to affect brain chemicals that are related to nicotine addiction (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine). Bupropion reduces the cravings for cigarettes that smokers experience when they try to quit. It also seems to reduce many of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, frustration, and anger.
Considerations while taking this medication
See your doctor
Your doctor will determine the appropriate level of bupropion for you and will adjust the dosage as you progress.
Manage your medications
Tell your doctor about all the medications you take; some should not be taken with bupropion, while others may require a different dosage level
Be cautious with certain medical conditions
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of bupropion. Tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or history of
- Brain tumor, disorders, or surgery
- Drug abuse
- Head injury, or history of
- Mental retardation
- Seizure disorders
- Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
Women who are breastfeeding should not use bupropion. Talk to your doctor about other options.
Start taking bupropion one week before you plan to stop smoking. It takes about one week for this medication to reach adequate levels in your system, so plan a specific quit date during the second week that you are taking bupropion.
If you miss a dose, just skip it and stay with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
If all goes well and you are successful in quitting, you should plan to stay on the bupropion for 7 to 12 weeks. Your primary care provider may recommend a longer course of treatment, however, depending on your circumstances.
Possible side effects
Most people do not have side effects from taking bupropion for this indication. If side effects do occur, they can usually be minimized. And the side effects are temporary—they last only as long as you are taking this medication.
Temporary weight loss is a possible beneficial side effect of bupropion, which might offset the weight gain that usually occurs when people quit smoking.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Buzzing or ringing in ears
- Headache (severe)
- Skin rash, hives, or itching
Symptoms of an overdose; these may be more severe than side effects seen at regular doses, or two or more may occur together; contact your doctor immediately:
- Fast heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects occur frequently and/or become bothersome:
- Abdominal pain
- Decrease in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trembling or shaking
- Weight loss
Smoking cessation success
It is very clear from all of the studies on smoking cessation that your chances of long-term success depend a great deal on your motivation and commitment to quitting, regardless of which therapy you choose.
This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult with your physician if you are in any way concerned about your health.