While Wellbutrin isn’t a narcotic, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential for misuse. For the most part, Wellbutrin is considered to be a relatively safe antidepressant. However, since Wellbutrin affects the “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, it is sometimes taken to achieve a stimulant-like high. When Wellbutrin is taken in high doses or in dangerous ways, such as intravenously, it may act similarly to a stimulant. People who use Wellbutrin recreationally may have doses up to 1200 mg at a time, while the maximum daily dose of the drug is 450 mg for prescription use.
Along with injecting Wellbutrin, some recreational users will crush the tablets to snort them. This provides all of the effects of the drug directly into the bloodstream at one time and bypasses the time-release elements of Wellbutrin. It’s extremely dangerous, however, and can cause serious health problems. For example, Wellbutrin can be caustic when it’s injected. It can damage tissues significantly as a result. In some places, such as Canada, recreational Wellbutrin use has led to the rise of the nickname “poor man’s cocaine.”
Another reason Wellbutrin is often confused with or compared to narcotics is because it does cause physical dependence in many users. Physical dependence isn’t the same as a psychological addiction. Dependence means the person’s body depends on the presence of the drug. If someone is dependent on Wellbutrin and tries to stop using it suddenly, they may go through withdrawal. The potential for withdrawal makes it important that the person taking the drug doesn’t stop taking Wellbutrin suddenly without speaking to their healthcare professional. As with other antidepressants, a doctor will usually recommend patients taper down their dosage of Wellbutrin gradually.
For the most part, Wellbutrin is considered a relatively safe and well-tolerated antidepressant. It’s not a narcotic, but there has been a rise in misuse of the drug, especially lately. When taken in high doses or illicit ways such as injecting dissolved tablets, some people may experience a stimulant-like high. Taking Wellbutrin in this way can be dangerous or deadly, however. Wellbutrin isn’t a narcotic, and it’s not especially addictive, but it can lead to physical dependence, so patients should be aware of this when taking it. As with any prescription drug, it should be taken only as directed by a physician.
If you or a loved one is struggling with the weight of an addiction to prescription drugs or anything else, get in touch with The Recovery Village. Whether you just want to ask questions, learn more, or get specific information about going to treatment and how to pay for it, we’re here to provide you with answers.