How Effective Is Bupropion for Smoking Cessation?

Erin J. Hill

The use of bupropion for smoking cessation has been shown to be very effective in helping patients stop using cigarettes. In fact, those who use buproprion are twice as likely to be successful than those who try and quit cold turkey. It is equally effective as most nicotine replacement therapies. The exact level of effectiveness, as with any drug, will typically depend on the patient. Those who have been smoking for many years may find it harder to quit than those who have not been smoking as long, as well as those who smoke an unusually large number of cigarettes per day.

Bupropion is safe to use with nicotine patches.
Bupropion is safe to use with nicotine patches.

Bupropion is the first non-nicotine containing drug used to help smokers quit. The exact way bupropion for smoking cessation works is not entirely understood, but it helps relieve the feelings of withdrawal symptoms related to suddenly quitting tobacco use, and it can also curb cravings for tobacco in most patients. This makes patients less likely to want a cigarette, and the body eventually becomes less nicotine dependent.

The use of bupropion for smoking cessation can be combined with other anti-smoking remedies. Since this drug doesn't contain nicotine or tobacco, it is safe for use with nicotine patches, gum, or inhalers. Electronic cigarettes are also usually safe for use with bupropion. Many patients will have better results when multiple anti-smoking methods are used in combination with one another.

Most patients are prescribed bupropion for smoking cessation several weeks before the use of tobacco has ceased. This allows the drug to accumulate in the body so that it is more effective. It is then used for several weeks, or even months, after the last cigarette has been smoked. For most patients, it's safe to take it for up to one year.

Bupropion is also used as an anti-depression under a different brand name. For those who smoke to relieve stress or anxiety, it may also be beneficial in that way for those who want to quit. Patients who suffer from depression or other conditions should discuss options with their doctors. It should not be assumed that taking bupropion for smoking cessation will automatically treat depression as well, since dosages and instructions may be different for each use.

Side effects can occur with bupropion, including dry mouth and insomnia. These are usually temporary and clear up on their own without additional treatment. Rarer symptoms, like stomach upset, can also occur. If any side effects are especially troublesome, or if they do not go away within a few weeks of taking the drug, a doctor should be notified.

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