Can You Get High on Wellbutrin?

“It can treat depression and help people quit smoking.” It might seem like an odd combination of effects, but that’s what Wellbutrin, the brand name for Bupropion, is purported to do.

Officially, it is known as a “norepinephrine-dopamine-reuptake-inhibitor,” but in more common parlance is referred to as an NDRI. As an “atypical antidepressant,” it differs from the more commonly issued SSRIs, but is still considered effective and has several off-label uses as well.

A Brief History

There’s some long and curious history surrounding Wellbutrin.

The generic compound, Bupropion, was synthesized in 1966 by the Burroughs Research group in an attempt to find “an agent that would be active in antidepressant screening models, but differ chemically and pharmacologically from the tricyclics, and not be sympathomimetic, cholinolytic, nor an inhibitor of monoamine oxidase.”

These researchers wished to find a compound that would be safer and more tolerable than options that currently existed, even if they aren’t yet sure what the precise method of action is for the drug:

“Bupropion appears to enhance monoaminergic neurotransmission via its effects on both the NE and DA transporters, with subsequent reuptake inhibition of these 2 neurotransmitters. Bupropion and 2 of its metabolites, hydroxybupropion and threohydrobupropion, were shown to decrease the uptake of NE and DA into rat and mouse synaptosomes…”

“The therapeutic effect of bupropion is presumed to be, in part, due to the antidepressant activity of 3 metabolites: hydroxybupropion, threohydrobupropion, and erythrohydrobupropion.”

It first became available as an immediate release tablet in the 1980s, with SR tablet being created sometime after to provide more convenient dosing for patients.

This sustained release tab was marketed as Wellbutrin-SR in the mid-1990s and could be taken twice a day, making it a more manageable treatment. In the 2000s, researchers introduced Wellbutrin XL, which could be taken only once a day.

Unlike traditional SSRIs, Bupropion ignores the serotonin system, providing effects by working instead on the noradrenergic and dopaminergic systems in the body. It is also devoid of the many sexual side effects commonly associated with SSRIs.

The drug, the fourth-most prescribed antidepressant, is available by prescription only.

Recreational Use

It generally takes weeks for the effects of antidepressants like this to start to manifest, so why the clamor about recreational use and a Wellbutrin High? I decided to do some digging to see what users had to say.

What Does Wellbutrin High Feel Like?

When used clinically, Wellbutrin seems to have positive effects for some users:

“Recently I started taking Wellbutrin in the morning, and holy shit. I haven’t felt this good in a really long time. Things don’t bother me nearly as much, and I’m 100X more productive. I don’t have trouble getting out of bed in the morning anymore and I’m actually eager to go about my day, a feeling I haven’t had in months.”

One user found that it gave them some weird side effects but did quell their urge to smoke:

“Took it for depression. My depression went away but so did my will to live. Does that sound contradictory? Welcome to the world of antidepressants. Also, very weird dreams and if you’re a smoker. It makes smoking taste and feel the way it’s supposed to, fucking disgusting and stupid. I dare you to make it through a whole cigarette without getting sick.”

Nothing about Wellbutrin providing a “high,” though. The closest thing was a