Abstral Signs, Symptoms, and Side Effects

Abstral is a prescription strength narcotic intended to treat breakthrough pain (sudden intense pain) in cancer patients. Many patients who take Abstral are regularly taking other medications for around-the-clock pain caused by cancer.

Narcotic addiction is a monumental problem in the United States, and Abstral, like most opioids, has a high potential to be misused. This article will explain what Abstral is, its side effects, and symptoms of misuse.

As stated, Abstral is a medication prescribed for treating breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Breakthrough pain is a sudden spike of powerful pain during the time in which regular pain medications are being taken. Abstral is classified as an opioid analgesic and contains a strong opiate substance called fentanyl.

Abstral is available in the form of a tablet that dissolves under the tongue, also called sublingual tablets. It’s normally provided at 100 mcg and may be increased depending on the severity of the breakthrough pain. Abstral should only be taken when breakthrough pain occurs and should be taken exactly as directed. The opioid is powerful, and when not taken carefully, a patient may easily become dependent. Following the directions provided by a doctor will reduce the chances of misuse, although people following the general instructions for an Abstral prescription may still misuse it.

When taking Abstral, a person might experience common side effects. Common side effects of Abstral are:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth

If any of the following severe side effects occur, contact a doctor to ensure safe continuation:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Shallowing breathing (weak breaths)
  • Feeling as if you might pass out
  • Extreme mental confusion
  • Extreme muscle weakness or rigidness
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe stomach pain

Since Abstral has a high potential for substance misuse and addiction, the Food and Drug Administration classified it as a Schedule II controlled substance. Cancer patients are provided with Abstral because they already have a high tolerance for opioid pain medications. However, this often means they might have to take a higher dose to achieve similar results.

If you or someone you know is taking Abstral and you fear they are misusing the medication, there are certain behavioral changes that may be displayed. A person struggling with substance use disorder will begin to crave Abstral and the cravings can reach uncontrollable levels. Many times, these cravings can lead to illicitly obtaining Abstral. Substance use disorders also can cause someone to show less interest in important aspects of life, like friendships and employment.

Short-term effects resulting from Abstral misuse can cause problems, however, the long-term effects can be far more damaging if they are not controlled.

After long-term use of opioids like Abstral, the brain will begin to rely on the drug to produce certain chemicals in response to pain, making it difficult for natural secretion to take place once stopping treatment. This leads to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and possibly recurrence of use, which only further worsens natural chemical balance.

Treating an Abstral addiction early is critical; opioid addictions can negatively affect not only your life, but also the lives of those around the person struggling with substance misuse. If you or a loved one are taking Abstral and fear misuse, contact The Recovery Village for a safe and comfortable recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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