How Zyban Can Help With Quitting Smoking

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Zyban is the brand name for the generic drug bupropion hydrochloride. It is a nicotine-free quit aid.

Originally marketed as an anti-depressant drug under the brand name of Wellbutrin, it became apparent that bupropion was an effective quit aid because smokers using it to treat depression also lost interest in smoking. People not planning to quit smoking found themselves stopping with relative ease.

Later, bupropion hydrochloride was given the brand name of Zyban and in 1997, the FDA approved it as a quit smoking aid. When used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy (NRTs), the chance for long-term success with smoking cessation increases.

Note:  it is important to be monitored by your doctor if you're using both Zyban and an NRT as high blood pressure can be a concern.

How It Works

It isn't completely understood how Zyban works, but we do know that it alters brain chemistry in such a way that nicotine is rendered less effective. The result is a reduced interest in smoking, and nicotine cravings and withdrawal are minimal.

While this medication was developed as an anti-depressant, you do not need to suffer from depression for it to work as a quit aid. That said, if you develop quit-related depression, Zyban may help to offset the symptoms.


Zyban is not sold over the counter, so you must see your doctor for a prescription.

To begin with, you take Zyban while you're still smoking.

Days 1 - 3:  One 150 mg tablet once a day.

Days 4 - 7:  One 150 mg tablet twice a day, at least 8 hours apart.

It's a good idea to space your pills out so that the second pill of the day is several hours before bedtime as bupropion can make it hard to get to sleep.

Week 2:  Continue to take one pill twice a day, at least 8 hours apart. Stop smoking during week two, on the day you picked to quit.

Week 3 and beyond:  Continue as with week 2. The recommended course of treatment is 7 weeks, but it can be taken for a longer period of time. Your doctor will help you decide when you should stop treatment.

If you're unable to stop smoking by the end of week 3, your doctor may discontinue this medication as it might not be a good fit for you as a quit aid. If that happens, don't worry. There are several other options on the market today that could work better for you.

Very Important: If you miss a dose and it's close to time for the next one, skip that pill. Never take a double dose to catch up as this could increase the risk for seizures.

If you take too much Zyban accidentally, call your doctor, poison control or go to an emergency room at your local hospital immediately, even if you're not experiencing anything out of the ordinary.

Also, never stop taking this drug abruptly, unless you have one of the side effects in the section below where that is recommended. Consult with your doctor immediately if this happens.

Who Should Not Use Zyban

Zyban isn't suitable for everyone. You shouldn't take Zyban if you use any other drug containing bupropion hydrochloride or if you are allergic to bupropion hydrochloride. If you are taking or have recently taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), you should avoid taking Zyban as well.

People with certain conditions shouldn't take Zyban, such as if you have or have had a seizure disorder or an eating disorder.

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take Zyban. It's also recommended you don't take Zyban if you are abruptly discontinuing alcohol or sedatives (including benzodiazepines).

Common Side Effects

If any of these side effects become severe or don't go away, see your doctor.

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sense of taste
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Headaches
  • Stuffy nose
  • Uncontrollable shaking in a part of the body
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sore throat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent urination

Side Effects You Should Seek Immediate Medical Attention For:

  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • irrational fears
  • rapid, pounding or irregular heart rate
  • muscle or joint pain

Side Effects That Warrant Stopping Zyban Immediately:

  • Rash or blisters
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, lower legs
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Chest pain

If you experience any of these side effects, discontinue Zyban and see your doctor or go to an emergency room right away.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required the makers of Zyban and Chantix, a similar quit aid to post a warning on product packaging about potentially severe side effects.

If you have any problems not listed here that are troublesome and you're concerned about whether they might be related to Zyban, check in with your doctor as soon as possible.


Of the small number of studies done on Zyban efficacy over the years, success rates seem to be in the 30% range for people who are smoke-free at the one year mark. When used with NRTs however, the rate climbs slightly to approximately 35.5% for those who didn't smoke at all during the first year.

More importantly, perhaps, is how effective Zyban can be when you couple it with a good support group of like-minded individuals for smoking cessation. Whether online or in-person, support may be the single most important quit tool you can employ.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database

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5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Zyban (buproprion hydrochloride) sustained-release tablets. Updated August 2011.  

  3. Wilkes S. The use of bupropion SR in cigarette smoking cessationInt J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2008;3(1):45–53. doi:10.2147/copd.s1121

  4. Jorenby DE, Leischow SJ, Nides MA, et al. A controlled trial of sustained-release bupropion, a nicotine patch, or both for smoking cessationN Engl J Med. 1999;340(9):685–691. doi:10.1056/NEJM199903043400903

  5. Hartmann-Boyce J, Hong B, Livingstone-Banks J, Wheat H, Fanshawe TR. Additional behavioural support as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy for smoking cessationCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;6(6):CD009670. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009670.pub4

Additional Reading
  • Action on Smoking and Health. Efficacy of Zyban and NRT.
  • Zyban Consumer Medicine Information.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. GlaxoSmithKline Zyban Medication Guide.