Actiq is a brand-name version of fentanyl citrate, administered as a transmucosal lozenge. The medicated Actiq lozenge is attached at the end of a small stick, and it’s often flavored. The reason Actiq is administered this way is that it allows it to absorb directly through the mucous membranes in the mouth, so it starts working faster. Actiq is very tightly controlled and regulated because of the many risks associated with fentanyl. Actiq is only meant to be used to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already opioid-tolerant and who are receiving around-the-clock opioid treatment. Otherwise, it could cause fatal respiratory depression. To be prescribed Actiq, patients should also be part of the TIRF REMS Access program, which is designed to reduce medical diversion of this fentanyl product. Actiq is not to be used for post-operative pain, acute pain management, or for dental or migraine pain. The active ingredient, fentanyl, is similar to morphine but anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful.
When someone uses Actiq or any form of fentanyl, there is a high risk of addiction and dependence, especially if they misuse it. Symptoms of Actiq misuse include any scenario where it’s used outside of prescription guidelines. For example, diverting it from medical use in any way is considered a symptom of Actiq misuse. Using it more often than prescribed or administering it outside of prescribing guidelines are signs of Actiq misuse. Someone who is misusing Actiq or any fentanyl product may go through illegal channels to access it. Outward symptoms of Actiq misuse that may be noticed include:
- Euphoria followed by drowsiness or sedation
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Coordination or walking problems
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Small pupils
- Sleep and appetite disturbances
The most worrisome side effects of Actiq misuse is addiction. Once someone is addicted to an opioid like fentanyl, particularly since it’s so powerful, it’s difficult for them to stop using it. Addiction to fentanyl will almost always require professional treatment. Dependence can also occur relatively quickly with Actiq misuse. In this instance, the body and brain start to depend on the effects of Actiq. If someone suddenly stops using Actiq when they’re dependent, they will go through withdrawal. Other side effects of Actiq misuse can include changes in mood or behavior and new or worsening psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Since Actiq is such a powerful opioid, addiction can occur relatively quickly. Opioids change how pain signals are sent and sensed throughout the body, but they also interact with the brain in a way that can and all-too-often does lead to addiction. Addiction is a disease that affects the brain and body as well as the behavior of the affected person. Someone with an Actiq addiction is using the drug in a way that’s out of their own control. The brain ultimately changes to drive the continued use of opioids. Signs of Actiq addiction can be physical, psychological and behavioral. Along with the out-of-control use of Actiq or other opioids, signs of addiction can include:
- Trying to stop using Actiq unsuccessfully
- Avoiding responsibilities at school or work
- Problems with relationships
- Withdrawing from friends, family and responsibilities
- Lack of motivation
- Mood swings
- Problems with judgment and decision-making
- Anxiety or depression
- Doctor shopping for multiple prescriptions
The active ingredient in Actiq, which is fentanyl, is among the most dangerous opioids there are. When someone is a long-term Actiq taker, the risks go up even more. First, as someone builds a tolerance to Actiq or fentanyl, they’re likely to take higher and higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This can lead not only to dependence and withdrawal symptoms but can increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose. People who are long-term fentanyl patients may suffer from what’s called an anoxic injury. Anoxic injury is damage that occurs to the organs and tissues throughout the body because of decreased access to oxygen. People are likely to suffer emerging or worsening psychological and mental health conditions with the long-term use of Actiq as well.
Addiction doesn’t have to be an ongoing reality. Reach out to us at The Recovery Village to learn about treatment options that are available to you now.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.