Saturday August 30th 2014

Is Wellbutrin a narcotic?

No. Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) is not considered a narcotic in any medical or legal sense.

While Wellbutrin can have negative side effects, most people do not get high on Wellbutrin and is not addictive. There are anecdotal reports of people attempting to abuse it, but this mostly causes seizures rather than a euphoric high. We’ll look more at Wellbutrin, its uses, and legal classification, here. We invite your questions about Wellbutrin at the end.

Medical uses for Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder. The same active ingredient, bupropion, is also used to help people quit smoking physically while preparing mentally to get motivated to stop smoking.  However, this medication can have serious side effects even at therapeutic doses, including:

  • confusion
  • hallucinations
  • irrational fears
  • seizures

Wellbutrin is NOT a medical narcotic

Medical narcotics are drugs which provide pain relief. Typically, “narcotics” drugs are opiate medications, which cause sedative effects and slow brain activity. Different narcotics treat varying levels of pain, from moderate to severe, and also other troubling symptoms like cough or diarrhea. Narcotics can cause drowsiness and even loss of consciousness. They can suppress breathing and heart rate, which is sometimes fatal. Wellbutrin acts differently on the body and is not part of this family of drugs.

Wellbutrin is NOT a legal narcotic

The term “legal narcotic” is used to refer to any illicit drug. Legal narcotics include opiate medications and drugs regulated by the Controlled Susbstances Act, like marijuana and cocaine. Wellbutrin is not classified as a legal narcotic because it is not widely abused and is not considered to be of particular risk of addiction. Therefore, Valium is not a legal narcotic or controlled substance.

Wellbutrin abuse

There have been a handful of recorded cases where people have crushed and snorted Wellbutrin in an attempt to get high. They ended up in the emergency room, presenting with seizures and other side effects of Wellbutrin overdose. While some of theses people have reported a “high” resembling the use of cocaine, doctors don’t consider euphoria to be an effect of Wellbutrin use and say that any Wellbutrin high is unlikely.

Why isn’t Wellbutrin on the controlled substance schedules?

There just isn’t a widespread problem with Wellbutrin abuse that would justify making it a controlled substance. Wellbutrin should not be taken without a doctor’s prescription, but doesn’t have the abuse potential which would make it truly dangerous.  Will Wellbutrin show up on a drug test for illicit drugs?  Not, because it is not included in standard 5 panel drug screens.

Is Wellbutrin addictive?

Wellbutrin won’t cause the drug-seeking behavior or craving characteristics of addiction. However, users will develop a physical dependence if they use Wellbutrin long-term. To stop taking Wellbutrin, consult with your doctor. You need to be weaned off the medication slowly, to avoid unpleasant withdrawal effects, which can be serious, including seizure.

Should Wellbutrin classification change?

Unless larger numbers of people begin presenting with the symptoms of Wellbutrin abuse, there’s really no need to change the DEA classification and schedule for Wellbutrin. For most people, abusing this drug will have no benefit, so it’s not useful to criminalize it the way that opiates and cocaine are criminalized. But what do you think? Please leave us your opinions, comments and feedback below.

Wellbutrin narcotic questions

Do you still have questions about Wellbutrin as a narcotic? Please leave us your questions and comments here. We try to respond to all legitimate queries personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: PubMed Health: Bupropion
PubMed: A Case Report of Seizure Induced by Bupropion Nasal Insufflation
Drug Enforcement Administration: Controlled Substance Schedules
Drug Enforcement Administration: Narcotics

Photo credit: Fujoshi

Leave a Reply

7 Responses to “Is Wellbutrin a narcotic?
Karen Lehmann
10:32 pm May 1st, 2012

I take Wellbutrin for Depression. I’ve been told by my medical provider that “due to ‘Obamacare’”, Wellbutrin is “now a controlled substance” and that I therefore have to go to their office to renew my prescription every 30 days. In the past I’ve had a scrip standing for 6 mos or so. I’ve been told that these changes took effect in the last few months. What gives? Do you have any further information about this?

Thanks -

2:07 am May 3rd, 2012

Hi Karen. Thanks for your question. As far as I know, bupropion is not a controlled substance by the Controlled Substances Act. Can you ask your doctor’s office to clarify. It is possible that people have been using or selling buprorion for non-medically supervised reasons such as opiate withdrawal, so it has been regulated for a reason. Ask again and see what your doctor’s office has to say.

ri mceoin
1:48 am September 13th, 2012

do wellbutrin and/or citalopram ever have a potentiating effect in narcotic drugs?

thanks

r.mc.

1:35 pm October 16th, 2012

Hello ri mceoin. Because bupropion is extensively metabolized, there is the potential for drug-drug interactions, particularly with those agents that are metabolized by or which inhibit/induce the cytochrome P450IIB6 (CYP2B6) isoenzyme, such as ritonavir. It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol and St. John’s Wort while on Wellbutrin.

Additionally, although the mechanism of action of bupropion is unknown, it seems to potentiate central nervous system activity of both norepinephrine and dopamine. It is a weak inhibitor of both dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake, but it may potentiate the activity of these two neurotransmitters through other, more complex, mechanisms.

To answer your question, it seems best to consult with either a medical doctor or a pharmacist. These professionals can advise you more at length about the way that bupropion interacts with drugs which affect the opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

Alex
1:39 pm April 13th, 2013

I have read that Wellbutrin, even though it is prescribed for depression with anxiety, might cause\worsen anxiety in some people. does the academia have an explanation, even a theoretical one on how such a paradox is possible?

kathy fitzhugh
11:48 am April 20th, 2014

should a meth addict in recovery (off meth and in a 12 step program) take wellbutrin?

9:37 am April 23rd, 2014

Hello Kathy. Wellbutrin can help address dysphoria (intense dissatisfaction with life, or the inability to feel pleasure) that is caused by long term use of meth. Anti-depressants can be a great aid to people in recovery, but each addict is treated on a case-by-case basis. So timelines vary. Does this answer your question?

Leave a Reply