Wellbutrin is the brand name for a medication called bupropion that is used to treat depression, and seasonal affective disorder, and as a smoking cessation aid. It is also sometimes prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) if other medications alone are ineffective. Bupropion works by altering the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which can improve mood and help with concentration.
One of the questions people often have about taking Wellbutrin is how long it stays in their system. Understanding how long Wellbutrin remains in the body can help individuals better manage their treatment and avoid potential interactions with alcohol, other medications, or illicit substances.
Factors That Affect How Long Wellbutrin Stays in Your System
Everyone’s body and metabolism are unique, therefore, there are several factors that can impact how long Wellbutrin stays in your system, such as:
- Dosage – The dosage of Wellbutrin can affect how long it stays in your system. Higher doses can take longer to metabolize and clear from your body than lower doses.
- Frequency of use – Individuals who take Wellbutrin more often are more likely to have detectable levels of the medication in their body than those who take it sporadically.
- Metabolism – The rate at which your body metabolizes Wellbutrin can affect how long it stays in your system. Individuals with a faster metabolism may process the drug more quickly, leading to shorter elimination times.
- Age – Older individuals may metabolize Wellbutrin more slowly than younger people.
- Overall health – Individuals with certain health conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, may metabolize Wellbutrin and other drugs at a slower rate than healthy individuals, resulting in longer elimination times.
How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay in Your System?
The length of time it takes for Wellbutrin to leave your system can vary depending on a variety of factors. One of the primary factors is the drug’s half-life, which is a measure that describes how long it takes half of a single dose of a drug to be metabolized.
The half-life of Wellbutrin is around 21 hours, which means that it takes approximately 21 hours for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. It can between four and five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the body, so based on the half-life of Wellbutrin, it can take anywhere from one to ten days for the drug to be fully eliminated from your system.
As a long-acting medication, Wellbutrin is designed to stay in your system for a long time. While there are several variables at play, the following is a general timeline of how long Wellbutrin stays in the average person’s body:
- 24 hours – After the first day of taking Wellbutrin, it will reach maximum concentration in the bloodstream.
- 3-4 days – After three to four days of taking Wellbutrin, the medication will have reached a steady state in the bloodstream, meaning that the level of medication in the blood will remain relatively stable. This is by design. The medication needs to remain at steady levels in the body to adequately treat symptoms of the conditions it is used for.
- 5-10 days – Because of the drug’s long half-life, it can take between five and ten days for it to be fully eliminated from the body. The exact length of time will depend on the above-listed factors such as dosage, frequency of use, age, and metabolism.
Will Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Show up on a Drug Test?
Wellbutrin (bupropion) is not a drug that is typically included in standard drug screenings because it is not a controlled substance or narcotic. Most standard drug tests are designed to detect commonly abused substances such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines. Wellbutrin is not classified as a controlled substance and is not considered to have a high potential for abuse, which means that it is not usually included in standard drug tests.
However, it is possible for Wellbutrin to show up on certain types of advanced drug screenings.
- Saliva tests – Wellbutrin can be detected in saliva for 4-5 days after the last dose
- Blood tests – Wellbutrin can be detected in blood for 4-5 days after the last dose
- Hair tests – Hair tests can detect substances including Wellbutrin in the body for up to 90 days after the last dose
- Urine tests – More research is needed. Urine tests are usually used to screen for illicit substance abuse in employment or parole/probation settings, so they usually don’t test for Wellbutrin and other antidepressants.
It is also important to note that even if Wellbutrin does show up on a drug test, it is not typically considered a disqualifying factor for employment or other activities, especially if it is prescribed to you by a physician. As long as you have a valid prescription for Wellbutrin and are taking it as directed, you won’t be punished for testing positive for the medication.
In rare cases, bupropion may cause a false positive for amphetamines in a routine drug test, so you must let the test administrator know if you are taking Wellbutrin or any other medications. If you get a false positive, the test administrator can send your test off to the lab for confirmation screenings.
Managing Your Treatment with Wellbutrin Effectively
If you are taking Wellbutrin, it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your treatment. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the appropriate dosage of Wellbutrin, monitor your response to the medication, and identify any potential side effects or interactions with other medications.
To ensure that Wellbutrin is effectively managing your symptoms, it is important to take the medication consistently and as prescribed. It is also important to avoid abruptly stopping the medication without consulting your healthcare provider, as this can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and the resurfacing of the conditions the medication was used to treat.
When abused, Wellbutrin can be addictive. If you or a loved one are suffering from Wellbutrin addiction, please contact our team at Moving Mountains Recovery today to learn about your treatment options.
- National Library of Medicine: The Many Uses of Bupropion and Bupropion Sustained Release (SR) in Adults, Retrieved April 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC314381/
- National Library of Medicine: Bupropion, Retrieved April 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470212/
- National Library of Medicine: Bupropion-Associated Withdrawal Symptoms: A Case Report, Retrieved April 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181057/