Bupropion is an innovative and promising candidate to help those with methamphetamine addiction to recover. Although, it is typically prescribed as an antidepressant or smoking cessation drug, emerging clinical data reveals that bupropion has helped individuals working to overcome methamphetamine addiction into recovery. Searidge Foundation is committed to providing its residents with innovative and fresh treatment options. Indeed, we offer our patients this cutting-edge pharmaceutical support to compliment state-of-the-art behavioural and evidence-based psychotherapy.

What is Bupropion?

Bupropion is a class of antidepressants. Typically, it is sold under its trade names “Wellbutrin” or “Zyban” and has little to no addictive properties. Only a few years ago, it was the most prescribed antidepressant in the United States. However, despite its popularity, recent studies have revealed that it has a weak antidepressant effect1. Albeit, its effects are still better than placebo- which can be equated to receiving no treatment at all. Today, there is emerging evidence that bupropion may be effective in treating people with an addiction to methamphetamine.

How does Bupropion work to treat Methamphetamine Addiction?

An aggregate of data has emerged over the past two decades in support of bupropion as treatment for methamphetamine addiction. It appears that a pre-treatment of bupropion reduces self-administration of the drug in monkeys, rats, and humans2. The extent to which this bears fruit appears to be dependent on the extent of one’s addiction. For example, bupropion seems to be most useful in those who self-administer low to moderate doses3. However, this is not an exclusive phenomenon and bupropion indeed has yielded positive results even in those taking large doses.

The exact nature of bupropion/methamphetamine interaction(s) is still under investigation. Bupropion is classified as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). In other words, it blocks the “recycling” (aka: reuptake) of norepinephrine (aka: noradrenaline) and dopamine in the brain. In turn, this increases both the amount of the neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, dopamine) within the brain and the probability of them interacting with neurons that carry out specific effects. For example, dopamine is typically defined as the “feel good” neurotransmitter. It is the binding of dopamine to dopaminergic neurons that produces “high” feelings. It is also a neurotransmitter heavily involved in reward-seeking behaviour and motivation. Individuals act out dopamine-seeking behaviour when their internal levels are depleted or low (e.g., seek out more of a certain drug, social media, sex, and so on).

Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system. It does so by triggering a release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, and simultaneously blocking the reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine. As previously alluded to, bupropion has similar effects. Therefore, it can be given in lieu of methamphetamine. Administration of bupropion will maintain levels of dopamine in the brain, thereby curtailing the desire to seek out other dopamine-producing drugs. As it happens, bupropion is less potent than methamphetamine and the side effects are less severe, making it a plausible candidate for treatment.

How do I know if Bupropion is right for me?

Every individual reacts to treatment differently and requires an independently catered recovery plan. Because of this, our physicians are highly informed and carry out an evidence-based practice. Indeed, the current evidence indeed alludes to promising outcomes from bupropion in treating methamphetamine addiction. We encourage both prospective and pre-existing patients of Searidge Foundation to talk to one of our physicians about the possibility of bupropion as part of their treatment plan.