Rationale: Symptoms of withdrawal after daily marijuana smoking include increased ratings of irritability and depression. Similar mood symptoms are reported by cigarette smokers during nicotine abstinence.
Objective: Given the successful use of sustained-release bupropion in treating nicotine dependence, this study investigated how maintenance on bupropion influenced symptoms of marijuana withdrawal compared to maintenance on placebo.
Methods: Marijuana smokers (n=10) were maintained outpatient on active (300 mg/day) or placebo (0 mg/day) bupropion for 11 days, and were then maintained inpatient on the same bupropion dose for 17 days. For the first 4 inpatient days, participants smoked active marijuana [2.8% delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)] 5 times/day. For the remaining inpatient days, participants smoked placebo marijuana (0.0% THC) 5 times/day. Participants were then maintained outpatient on the alternate dose of bupropion for 11 days, followed by a second inpatient residential stay, paralleling the first. Medication administration was double-blind. Mood, psychomotor task performance, food intake, and sleep were measured daily during each inpatient phase. The order of active and placebo bupropion maintenance was counterbalanced between groups.
Results: Bupropion had few behavioral effects when participants smoked active marijuana. During placebo marijuana smoking, i.e., active marijuana withdrawal, ratings of irritability, restlessness, depression, and trouble sleeping were increased by bupropion compared to placebo maintenance.
Conclusions: These data suggest that bupropion does not show promise as a potential treatment medication for marijuana dependence.