How Long Wellbutrin Stays In System And Shows Up On Drug Tests

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

The half-life of Wellbutrin is relatively long because of its active agent, bupropion. It is vital to know the length of time Wellbutrin stays in the system to avoid cases of Wellbutrin false positive appear on a drug test. Since Wellbutrin shows up on a drug test, knowing its half-life and time of staying in urine, blood, and saliva is essential.

Wellbutrin Half-Life

Bupropion half-life is the length of time it takes for this medication to remain effectively present within the plasma before reaching 50%. There are three active metabolites of bupropion, which is the active ingredient in Wellbutrin. They are:

  • Erythrohydrobupropion,
  • Hydroxybupropion,
  • Threohydrobupropion.

Wellbutrin Elimination

To understand the mechanism behind the length of time Wellbutrin stays in the system better, one should explore the process the medicine goes through in the body. These three active metabolites of bupropion are transported out of the body for excretion gradually and measured in half-life. Hydroxybupropion becomes fully available in the body in about three hours after taking the Wellbutrin. All of them have a higher plasma presence compared to bupropion, and they also have more extended exertion period, compared to bupropion. Each one of these metabolites has a slightly different half-life.

Factors That Dictate Wellbutrin Half-Life Period

Several factors have an impact on the length of time bupropion stays in the system, such as liver Impairment, renal diseases, major depressive disorder, pharmacokinetic interaction, and hydroxyl radical reactions.

medical professional working with model of digestive system and liver

Liver Impairment

Liver diseases can influence bupropion half-life. The majority of oral pills get absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and is transported through the liver. When it gets there, a portion of the drug may be lost to metabolism, and this is called the First-pass effect. If a patient has a liver problem, the Wellbutrin XL half-life can last for as much as twice the original duration.

Renal Diseases

Also, the kidney can influence the duration of time Wellbutrin XL remains in the system. It was discovered that renal impairment affected the first-pass effect. This led to heightened systemic bioavailability, which further makes the half-life of Wellbutrin longer.

Major Depressive Disorder

The findings in older adults with a Major depressive disorder showed that bupropion half-life is as long as 34 hours in the terminal phase after a single dose of bupropion. Wellbutrin and sex drive have become a positive consequence of treating depression, and this has made bupropion a favored treatment option in MDD.

Drug Interactions

When an individual uses multiple doses of Phenytoin and bupropion is introduced into the person’s treatment regimen, the elimination half-life increases tremendously. This shows that there is a potential drug interaction between bupropion SR and Phenytoin.

Ways of Taking

Sniffing Wellbutrin to speed up its mechanism of action, that some patients do to achieve the recreational purposes of bupropion, or taking it in any other way, than prescribed can affect the overall duration of Wellbutrin staying in one’s system.

Does Wellbutrin Show Up On A Drug Test?

Wellbutrin still can be found in urine, blood, and saliva during a routine drug test even if the intake of bupropion was stopped in some days before the test. The challenge is when such individuals make an effort to stop using the medication that may be due to an upcoming drug screening, Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms will start making life quite miserable. So, what is the exact period of Wellbutrin staying in urine, blood, and saliva?

Reagent Strip for Wellbutrin urine test

How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay In Urine?

The primary metabolite of bupropion in the urine is a glycine conjugate of meta-chlorobenzoic acid. Studies showed that more than 60% of bupropion would be excreted and found in urine within the first 24 hours, while a total of about 90% will have been passed via urine by the fourth day.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay In Blood?

Scientists discovered that Wellbutrin can still be found in the blood after four to nine days of last bupropion dosage. The blood test isn’t done usually to look for bupropion in one’s system. It is rather be done in case of emergency or overdose on the medication to know it’s quantity in the system at the moment.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay In Saliva?

Saliva drug tests are not usually done for this medication. The period when bupropion could be found in the saliva showed significant correlation with that of urine and plasma. Also, the concentration of bupropion was found to be higher in urine and saliva compared to plasma.

Can Wellbutrin Cause False-Positive?

Bupropion can elicit a false-positive when tested for amphetamines. This is one of the few antidepressants that trigger such occurrence on routine screening. Always notify the personnel about bupropion use, if one is going to be tested for amphetamines.

How To Get Wellbutrin Out Of The System Faster?

Wellbutrin price on the street has risen as some individuals can’t afford the prescription or beginning to opt for Wellbutrin for recreational purposes. On the street is referred to by several aliases and sold illegally, but this drug could be a tamper. Tampered pills are dangerous for patients health, and can stay in one’s system longer because of having foreign or low-quality ingredients.

Doctor showing a healthy wellbutrin elimination plan to female patient
It is also crucial to visit one’s physician to assist in getting bupropion out of one’s system quickly. The following tips are of great assistance with regards to rapid elimination and excretion of bupropion:

  • Lose weight: bupropion is a fat-soluble medication. Therefore, if one loses weight, they are likely going to eliminate the metabolites faster that way. Certain individuals have observed weight loss while using Wellbutrin.
  • Hydration: The more urine a patient pass, the more sweating they do, the better the bupropion excreted.
  • Supplements: certain supplements are used to enhance the kidney and the liver. These supplements are useful for faster excretion of Wellbutrin.
  • Activated Charcoal: this substance has the ability of binding to exogenous substances. This helps in the detoxifying process.
  • Detox: Bupropion is eliminated faster from one’s system with medical detox provided.

Addiction treatment therapies: If abuse of bupropion had happened during the treatment, the medication could stay in one’s system longer than usual. This period can be shortened with the help of specific therapies provided in drug rehab facilities.

Page Sources

  1. Abdel-Gawad SA, El-Gamal RM, Simultaneous determination of naltrexone and bupropion in their co-formulated tablet utilizing green chromatographic approach with application to human urine,
  2. Kaka JS, Al-Khamis KI, Tanira MO, Effect of hepatic and renal dysfunction on disposition of bupropion in rats,

Published on: July 5th, 2019

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


Leave a comment

  • Demi
    I’ve only taken 1 buproprion XL and it’s been 4 days of bad effects. I’m having trouble distinguishing when I’m dreaming and when I’m awake because of it and I want it out of my system. I’ve never taken any other medication for my anxiety or depression and the only other thing I took was my iron supplement. I’m much more paranoid and I can’t mentally process things right away. I need this out of my system, will just drinking alot of water help me flush it out? It’s freaking me out and making my anxiety attacks worse. I’ve been looking on websites for more information on how to get rid of it and this is the only one so far.
    • Ashley
      I have the same exact symptoms from top to bottom… Have you figured out how to get it out of your system any faster?? I’m going insane…