Background. Seizures of both immediate and delayed onset after ingestion of bupropion SR and bupropion XL formulations are well documented, but are less well characterized after insufflation. Bupropion is crushed and insufflated to experience a high similar to that from amphetamines and cocaine. We sought to characterize the abuse of bupropion via insufflation in cases reported to the California Poison Control System (CPCS) and the incidence of seizures.
Methods: An 11-year (2002-2012) retrospective observational case series of insufflated bupropion exposures evaluated in a health care facility (HCF) were reviewed after searching our database for all bupropion insufflation exposures. Patients with coingestants, multiple exposure routes, or age less than 18 were excluded. Data included age, gender, estimated bupropion dose, occurrence of pre-HCF seizures, symptoms and vital signs reported to the CPCS, treatments, and adverse events that occurred until time of discharge.
Results: 74 cases were identified (1 excluded due to age, 5 excluded due to additional oral ingestion of bupropion, and 1 excluded due to being unable to follow). A total of 67 cases met inclusion criteria. The median age was 36 (range, 18-65) years. The total dose of bupropion insufflated was reported in 52 pts; median dose of 1500 (range, 100-9000) mg. Eighteen cases (27%) involved staggered or chronic exposures. Of the 67 patients, 20 (30%) experienced a seizure prior to arrival at the HCF. Of these, 19 patients (95%) presented with tachycardia. None of these patients had a second seizure in the emergency department. There were no major medical outcomes and no deaths. Of the 67 patients, 9 patients received benzodiazepines and 6 patients received single-dose activated charcoal.
Conclusion: The abuse of bupropion by crushing and insufflating through the nose is uncommon (67/2270 or 3.0%) compared with that by oral bupropion exposures reported to CPCS. Seizures are common but are self-limited. Delayed seizures (more than 8 h after exposure) appear to be rare. Tachycardia is present in almost all patients who have seizures.
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