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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 24, 2024

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The antidepressant Wellbutrin is heavily prescribed today to alleviate depression symptoms. While this medication can be a very helpful and effective tool, unwanted side effects can occur when mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol

Wellbutrin has one of the higher ratings of antidepressant medications, around 60% of patients feel an improvement, making it an easily accessible option for many medical providers.  

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This article will explore the antidepressant medication, Wellbutrin and its side effects and interactions if consumed with alcohol. 

Wellbutrin has one of the higher ratings of antidepressant medications, around 60% of patients feel an improvement, therefore it makes it an easily accessible option for many a medical provider.  

A man is holding a pink pill in his hand to represent wellbutrin and the effects of mixing wellbutrin and alcohol.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin itself, generically known as Bupropion, is an anti-depression medication that works in the brain on two major chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine.  

Dopamine and norepinephrine are two neurochemicals that heavily impact the nervous system and subsequently affect one’s mood.  

Wellbutrin is an NDRI (norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor).  Essentially, Wellbutrin works to prevent these two chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine, from being reabsorbed into the body once they have been produced.  

Since Wellbutrin keeps norepinephrine and dopamine from being reabsorbed into the body, they are available for longer use, and usually in higher amounts at once, producing an increased mood. 

Wellbutrin is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and to help people quit smoking (cessation).

How Long Does it Take for Wellbutrin to Work?

Wellbutrin is available in 3 different forms, immediate release (IR), sustained release (SR), and extended release (XL).  Doses and forms differ per patient, for example someone experiencing SAD will likely be prescribed differently than someone experiencing MDD.  

Regardless of dosages, the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the person’s body will be affected. This can present quite a challenge when attempting to stop taking Wellbutrin.  Sleep, and energy may improve in the first 1-2 weeks of taking Wellbutrin.  

Wellbutrin will increase energy, but it will not to the level that Adderall will, simply because Adderall is a stimulant and Wellbutrin is an antidepressant.  

Wellbutrin has been prescribed “off label” to assist with ADHD symptoms. While Wellbutrin can increase energy and sleep in the first few weeks, the person’s depressed mood may take 6 – 8 weeks to improve. 

A young man is standing against a sunrise wondering if there are side effects from mixing wellbutrin and alcohol.

Is Wellbutrin Addictive?

Norepinephrine and dopamine are the best and worst parts of this antidepressant medication.  While a person may experience heightened mood while taking Wellbutrin, they may feel what’s termed a “double negative” when they stop taking Wellbutrin.  

When the body is used to operating at a certain level of dopamine and then stops suddenly, the effects can be drastic.  

Without dopamine, or very low levels of it, one can have erratic emotions, including very low thoughts of oneself.  They can in fact become even more depressed, as their body is confused without the increased level of dopamine it was used to.  

Wellbutrin is considered addictive because quickly discontinuing this medication can have very adverse effects.

Can People Experience Withdrawals From Wellbutrin? 

Withdrawals from Wellbutrin can include trouble sleeping, irritable mood, anxiety, and relapse back into addiction of any form. 

It is highly recommended not to stop taking Wellbutrin suddenly, and to consult your doctor if any adjustments are needed in your prescription. 

What are Wellbutrin’s Side Effects?

Some of the biggest issues with Wellbutrin are its side effects.  Some of these side effects include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Twitching and shaking
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Ears ringing
  • Changes in flavor preference
  • Frequent urination
  • Sore throat

More serious side effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Feeling confused
  • Hallucinations
  • Irrational phobias
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat

Can You Mix Wellbutrin and Alcohol?

Wellbutrin’s interaction can in fact be fatal if you consume alcohol regularly and stop drinking while taking Wellbutrin.  

Other serious side effects of Wellbutrin and alcohol include uncontrollable shaking, hallucinations, vomiting and confusion.  

Additionally, more side effects of alcohol and Wellbutrin can include dry mouth, impaired vision, incorrect bowel movements, anxiety, irritations and rashes, sore joints, and headaches.  

While many antidepressant medications have interactions with alcohol, Wellbutrin may be arguably the most detrimental interactions to one’s health.  

Between alcohol, and the potential issues involving the body’s chemicals dopamine, and norepinephrine, taking Wellbutrin can have serious side effects, both short and long term.  

Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain?

About 25% of people experience weight gain while taking Wellbutrin.  

While some do gain weight, overall, Wellbutrin has one of the lowest percentages of people who gain weight amongst other antidepressants.  

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Get help for Get Help for Wellbutrin and Alcohol Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, or wants to stop taking Wellbutrin, reach out to us to begin the journey of recovery from drugs and alcohol. 

At Renaissance Recovery address depression, past medications, and many more factors when evaluating each person at our California rehab and Florida rehab programs. Through individual and group therapy, we help get to the root cause of you or your loved ones’ issues.  

We know how hard it can be to struggle with addiction. Call us today at  866.330.9449 for more information on how you can get help with addiction recovery. 

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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