Bupropion, sometimes referred to by its commercial name Wellbutrin, is a compound that increases the release of dopamine and to a lesser extent epinephrine, among other neurochemicals. It's used in the treatment of depression and for smoking cessation. When used to help people quit smoking, Bupropion is typically taken in 300 milligrams per day doses, divided into two dosages of 150 milligrams each or sometimes in a slow-release formula. It should be noted that there is an increased seizure risk with the use of Bupropion. It occurs in a small fraction of the population but is an important consideration for those with a seizure risk. Bupropion must be used with caution in patients with liver or renal disease, as this can impact the amount they can take. There are also contraindications with benzodiazepines or other sedatives. For those who can take it safely, Bupropion can increase the success rate of quitting smoking from about 5% to roughly 20%. This increase is because Bupropion can tap into the mesolimbic reward pathway, thereby increasing dopamine levels enough to help people avoid the drop in dopamine that leads to withdrawal symptoms. It is also used as an antidepressant for patients who experience negative side effects with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 1.

Moreover, Bupropion is also referenced in the context of increasing motivation and possibly creating a state of elevated alertness. It is mentioned that the drug can be advantageous and beneficial as a prescription drug for depression, though it is important to work with a clinician to find the correct dosage for individuals 2.

The discussion extends to bulimia treatment, highlighting that Bupropion, by increasing dopamine and adrenaline (norepinephrine), can provide more top-down control or prefrontal control, moderating impulsivity. It's prescribed not only for smoking cessation and depression but also for some forms of obesity related to binge eating disorder. The efficacy of the drug in these latter uses appears positive, but it must be prescribed by a psychiatrist because of its prescription status 3.

Bupropion for Smoking Cessation

Andrew discusses the use of Bupropion, also known as Wellbutrin, for smoking cessation. Bupropion increases dopamine release and is an antidepressant, and it can increase the success rate of quitting smoking from 5% to 20%. However, it has potential side effects and is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Huberman Lab

Nicotine’s Effects on the Brain & Body & How to Quit Smoking or Vaping | Huberman Lab Podcast #90

It's important to remember when discussing Bupropion or any pharmaceuticals that consultation with a medical professional is essential before making any decisions about treatment or medications.