Clinical Presentations of Bupropion Prescription Drug Misuse: A Systematic Review

Greg Noe, Kaushal Shah, Samantha Ongchuan, Sahil Munjal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Among prescribers, bupropion is considered a substance of low misuse potential, with some studies showing lesser misuse potential than caffeine. However, several case reports exist of recreational bupropion misuse and diversion. Our goal is to understand at-risk populations, clinical courses, interventions, and outcomes after acute ingestion of bupropion via oral, intravenous route, and insufflation. Methods The systematic review was registered with PROSPERO on August 5, 2023. We conducted a systematic literature search on July 30, 2023, utilizing 8 databases with the help of the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) term "Bupropion"in the context of misuse and abuse. Ultimately, we found 17 articles with qualitative synthesis relevant to our study objective and meeting our inclusion/exclusion criteria. Results Bupropion insufflation and intravenous injection occur almost exclusively in patients with a substance use disorder history, with a preponderance of patients with stimulant use disorder or multiple substance use disorders. Additionally, many were dual-diagnosis patients with a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and stimulant use disorder, treated with bupropion. Patients describe the effects of bupropion insufflation/IV injection as a milder "cocaine-like"high that is brief, with less severe withdrawal effects of anxiety and agitation. The most common side effect at presentation was tachycardia, followed by seizures responsive to IV benzodiazepines. IV injection seems particularly insulting to the vascular system, with cellulitis, tissue necrosis, and digital ischemia as documented adverse effects. Conclusions This systematic review highlights the bupropion misuse potential in certain patient populations and serves to increase awareness among clinicians. Additional patient screening, monitoring and follow-up, surveillance, and further research are needed to investigate and prevent bupropion misuse in at-risk patient populations entirely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-290
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • abuse
  • bupropion
  • drug misuse
  • insufflation
  • substance-related disorders


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