Systematic review of preclinical, clinical, and post-marketing evidence of bupropion misuse potential

Andrew C. Naglich, E. Sherwood Brown, Bryon H Adinoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Bupropion is a substituted cathinone compound widely used as a first line or add-on treatment for depression, smoking cessation, and more recently in combination with naltrexone for weight loss. As abuse of synthetic cathinone compounds has received more attention in recent years, concern about the misuse potential of bupropion has grown as well. Objectives: We review bupropion pharmacology and assessments of misuse potential including preclinical evidence, human studies, and post-marketing surveillance of bupropion misuse. Methods: This review reports the results of a systematic review of publications evaluating the potential for bupropion to be misused. Publications were identified using PubMed and Medline through Ovid® as well as iterative bibliographic searches. A summary of data from informal sources of information including substance-user experience from online forum entries is included. Results: Preclinical evidence demonstrates some potential for misuse based on psychomotor, discrimination, self-administration, and conditioned place preference tasks. However, this potential is less than that of commonly misused stimulants. Studies in human populations similarly indicate that bupropion shares interoceptive effects with other stimulants, but lacks some key reinforcing effects of other stimulants. In the real-world setting, misuse of bupropion occurs, but is uncommon. Adverse effects of bupropion misuse are frequently cited as significant barriers to obtaining any desired interoceptive effect. Conclusions: While bupropion demonstrates some potential for misuse, pharmacological differences from other structurally-related stimulants limit bupropion’s reinforcing effects. Without additional data indicating susceptibility of specific populations to bupropion misuse, there is no empirical data suggesting a need to modify bupropion prescribing patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-354
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019


  • Bupropion
  • amphetamine
  • cathinone
  • central nervous system stimulants
  • prescription drug misuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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