Smoke Less America

Bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban)

What Is It?

Bupropion is the generic name for the drug marketed as "Zyban," which is an anti-depressant. Research has not established exactly how bupropion helps people quit smoking, but there is evidence that it helps to alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms. This medication has been shown to work equally well in people with and without a history of depression, so it does not appear that its efficacy is due to its anti-depressant effects.

Research has shown that bupropion helps to double quit rates, as compared to placebo pills.

Bupropion, under the trade name "Zyban," became available by prescription in 1998.

Warnings, Cautions and Various Nasty Possibilities

Insomnia and dry mouth are the most common side effects associated with this medication. However, there are certain medical conditions which warrant against using bupropion. These conditions include seizures, eating disorders, and current use of certain other medications, such as Wellbutrin. Of course, you should always check with your physician prior to starting any medication, and you should be monitored regularly during treatment.

Using Bupropion

Treatment with bupropion begins while the user is still smoking, one week prior to the quit date. Treatment is then continued for 7 to 12 weeks. Length of treatment should be based on the relative benefits and risks for each individual, and should be discussed with a physician. People who have not made significant progress towards abstinence by the seventh week of therapy are unlikely to successfully quit during this attempt, and bupropion treatment should be discontinued. Dose tapering is not required when discontinuing treatment.

Why Choose Bupropion?

One advantage of bupropion is that users begin taking the medication prior to quitting smoking, thereby priming his/her body to deal with the stress of quitting. While the user may not notice that his/her will to quit has increased, the quitting process will be less difficult as a result of having been on this medication.

Bupropion may be a good choice for people who prefer an alternative to nicotine replacement, or who have not succeeded on traditional nicotine replacement therapies. It is also beneficial for those who prefer a treatment regimen of taking a pill twice daily. As stated elsewhere, it is important that the user not have history of seizures or other conditions of concern.