Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 17, 2009 -- Nicotine, which is found in almost all types of cigarette, is the one type of drug that therapists have had difficulties in fighting. This is because cigarette smoking isn't as controlled as other illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine, which is why the number of heavy smokers or nicotine addicts have continually increased every year throughout the world. However, like alcoholism, several medications have now been made available to the market to stop nicotine addiction. One particular medication used for nicotine addiction is bupropion.
Bupropion treatment for nicotine addiction
Previously known as amfebutamone, bupropion is a drug commonly used as an antidepressant which acts as a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, and nicotinic antagonist. Though it was initially researched and marketed as an antidepressant, bupropion was later found to be effective as a smoking cessation aid. According to adolescent drug treatment centers, in 2007 it was the fourth-most prescribed antidepressant in the United States retail market, with 20.184 million retail prescriptions.
Bupropion reduces the severity of nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. After a seven-week treatment, 27% of subjects who received bupropion reported that an urge to smoke was a problem, versus 56% of those who received placebo. In the same study, 21% of the bupropion group reported mood swings, versus 32% of the placebo group. According to adolescent drug treatment centers, the procedure usually lasts for seven to twelve weeks, with the patient halting the use of tobacco about ten days into the course.
The efficacy of bupropion is similar to that of nicotine replacement therapy. Bupropion approximately doubles the chance of quitting smoking successfully after three months. One year after the treatment, the odds of sustaining smoking cessation are still 1.5 times higher in the bupropion group than in the placebo group. The combination of bupropion and nicotine appears not to further increase the cessation rate. In a direct comparison, varenicline (Chantix) showed superior efficacy: after one year, the rate of continuous abstinence was 10% for placebo, 15% for bupropion, and 23% for varenicline.
According to adolescent drug treatment centers, other than cigarette cessation, bupropion slows the weight gain that often occurs in the first weeks after quitting smoking (after seven weeks, the placebo group had an average 2.7 kg increase in weight, versus 1.5 kg for the bupropion group). With time, however, this effect becomes negligible (after 26 weeks, both groups recorded an average 4.8 kg weight gain).