What Is Actiq Prescribed For?

Cancer patients often have a lot of pain, and some pain medications aren’t that effective. Actiq is a very strong medication used as a last resort for people who can’t get pain relief from anything else. It’s a “breakthrough” pain medication that works when other pain relievers haven’t.

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While Actiq effectively treats an episode of breakthrough pain, it’s also very addictive. The medication is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for dependence and addiction. Many people with persistent pain and that are treating pain with pain medicines start taking Actiq as prescribed, but then they use it more and more and addiction occurs. They may take higher doses, use it more often, or use it for reasons other than treating pain.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what Actiq is and how it’s abused. We’ll also dispel some of the myths about abuse and addiction.

What Is Actiq?

Actiq is a prescription medication used to treat breakthrough cancer pain. It is a powerful opioid pain reliever administered through a lollipop-like device.

Breakthrough cancer pain is defined as pain that occurs despite using around-the-clock pain medication. Actiq is intended for cancer patients who have already tried other pain medicines without success.

The active ingredient in Actiq is fentanyl citrate, a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which reduces the perception of pain.

For this reason, it is only prescribed when other less dangerous options have been exhausted. Actiq can provide much-needed relief for cancer patients experiencing severe pain when used as directed by a doctor or pharmacist.

What Does Actiq Look Like?

Actiq is available in several different strengths, ranging from 200 to 1600 micrograms. The medication comes in the form of a lozenge on a plastic handle that resembles a lollipop.

The fentanyl lozenges has flavoring to make it more palatable, and the medication is absorbed through the mouth’s lining, allowing it to enter the bloodstream quickly.

The fentanyl lozenges are much easier for patients already dealing with serious side effects of cancer and chemotherapy. It is also important for people who need fast pain relief but cannot take pills.

Side Effects of Actiq

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Since Actiq is an opioid pain medicine, it has many of the same side effects as other opioids. These include:

  • Severe drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

Some patients also report irritation in the mouth where the fentanyl lozenges were placed.

Tell your doctor immediately if you experience serious side effects such as severe drowsiness, interrupted and slow breathing, or erratic heartbeat.

Actiq can also be addictive, even when taken as prescribed. If you have a history of substance abuse, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting Actiq.

Actiq Precautions and Interactions

Actiq is a very powerful medication that should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor. It is important to follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

Do not take more Actiq than prescribed, and do not take the medication more often than directed. Taking too much Actiq can lead to overdose and death.

Additionally, you should let your doctor know your medical history, as Actiq may not be suitable for you if you have certain medical conditions.

This drug also interacts with many other medications, so it is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all your medications, including over-the-counter medicines and supplements.

Is Actiq Safe for You?

To make ensure taking this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had issues with your central nervous system:

  • Respiratory depression or breathing problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Head injury or brain tumor
  • Any history of mental illness
  • Alcoholism or drug addiction
  • Seizure disorder
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart disease or slow heartbeats

Drug Interactions and Pain Medications

Some of the drugs that interact with Actiq include:

  • Other opioids
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Narcotic medications

Emergency Medical Attention or Contact your Doctor or Pharmacist

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have taken too much Actiq or if you experience any of the following symptoms and signs of overdose:

  • Breathing problems – slow or shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils

Grapefruit juice can also interact with this opioid medication, so it’s best to avoid it when taking Actiq.

Actiq Addiction

Unfortunately, Actiq is often abused for its potent opioid effects. People who abuse Actiq typically chew or crush the lozenges to get the medication’s full effect all at once, just like other street drugs. This can be extremely dangerous, increasing the risk of overdose and death.

In the United States alone, more than 50,000 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020, with a 59% increase in fatalities from the year before.

In the streets, fentanyl is called China Girl or Murder 8; It is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to create a more potent — and more dangerous — mix.

When used, the drug gives off a sweet, fruity smell, and people who abuse Actiq often describe a feeling of euphoria or “a sense of being high.”

Actiq abuse can also lead to psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and delusions.

Actiq Abuse Symptoms

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Physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms indicate that someone is abusing Actiq.

Physical signs include:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Emotional signs that point to Actiq abuse include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Erratic behavior or thinking
  • Inability to concentrate

Lastly, behavioral signs of Actiq abuse include:

  • Using more of the medication than prescribed or taking it more often than directed
  • Running out of medication early
  • Stealing or forging prescriptions
  • Crushing and snorting the powder from Actiq lozenges
  • Chewing or swallowing the lozenges whole to get a quicker high
  • Mixing Actiq with other drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence of Actiq
  • Aggressive behavior or hostility
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Continuing to abuse Actiq despite negative consequences

If you are worried that someone you love is abusing Actiq, it’s important to get help immediately.

Actiq addiction is a severe problem that can lead to overdose and death, but there is hope. Treatment and intervention can help people struggling with addiction get their lives back on track.

Long-term Effects of Actiq Abuse

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Chronic abuse of Actiq can lead to several serious health problems, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Brain damage
  • Heart damage
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Coma
  • Death

In addition, people addicted to Actiq develop a tolerance to the drug, which means they need to take more and more of it to get the same high.

Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and dependence can occur once a person is addicted, making it hard to quit without professional help.

Actiq Abuse and Addiction Treatment

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When it comes to Actiq abuse and addiction treatment, there are a few different options available. At CarePlus New Jersey, we always begin with an assessment to determine your needs. This begins with a phone call to set up an appointment.

Detoxification

If the amount of Actiq has become habit forming for yourself or a loved one, the first step in treatment is typically detoxification, which helps too physically and mentally stop the fentanyl with medical treatment. This can be done in an environment where staff can monitor vital signs and provide support.

Ideally, detox should be followed by a stay in a rehabilitation or treatment center where the person can receive counseling and therapy to address the underlying issues that led to addiction in the first place.

Medically Assisted Treatment

For some people, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be an option. This involves using medications like buprenorphine or methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings while the person goes through counseling and therapy.

MAT can be an effective addiction treatment, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a cure. The person will still need to commit to making lifestyle changes and stay in treatment for the long haul.

Therapy

Therapy is another essential part of treatment for Actiq abuse and addiction. It can help the person identify their addiction’s root cause and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Family therapy may also be recommended, as addiction often affects loved ones.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that is particularly effective in treating addiction. It works by helping the person to change their thinking and behavior patterns.

Motivational interview therapy (MIT) is another type of therapy that can be helpful. This approach focuses on helping the person find the motivation to change and recover.

Treatment for Actiq abuse and addiction is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The best treatment plan should be tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Actiq

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The withdrawal symptoms of Actiq can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, which is why it’s important to detox under medical supervision.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils

These symptoms can last several days or weeks, but they eventually subside.

It also depends on how much of the drug was being abused and for how long. The heavier the abuse, the more prolonged and intense the withdrawal symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Actiq Overdose

If you know that your loved one is addicted to Actiq, it’s important to look for signs and symptoms of opioid overdose.

Emergency medical help is needed immediately if you see any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shallow or stopped breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Slow heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Other symptoms, such as seizures and coma, can also occur.

An overdose of Actiq can be fatal, so it’s crucial to get help right away.

What To Do If You or a Loved One Is Addicted to Actiq

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It can be challenging to watch someone you care about suffer from addiction, but it’s important to remember that you can’t force them into treatment.

The best thing you can do is offer your support and encourage them to seek help.

If they’re ready to get sober, there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Find a treatment center or detox facility.
  • Make sure the facility is accredited and has a good reputation.
  • Research the different treatment options available.
  • Choose a treatment plan that will best fit the person’s needs.
  • Encourage them to stick with it, even if it’s tough.

An intervention may also be necessary if the person is in denial about their addiction. This involves getting together with friends or family members to confront the person about their addiction and encourage them to seek help.

If you’re not sure where to start, call CarePlus New Jersey and we will offer guidance.

Resources For Actiq Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, resources are available to help.

Many treatment facilities and detox programs can provide the care and support needed to recover.

You can also find more resources and information on addiction and recovery at the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.

How To Find the Right Addiction Treatment Center for You or a Loved One

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Fentanyl and other opioid analgesics are potent medications that can be lifesaving for people in pain. However, since they are also highly addictive, it’s essential to be aware of the risks before starting treatment.

Many different treatment facilities and programs are available, so research is vital to find the one that’s right for you or your loved one.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a treatment center.

The Type of Program

The first step is determining what program will best meet your needs. Inpatient programs provide around-the-clock care in a hospital setting, benefiting people with severe addictions or who are struggling with other mental health issues.

Outpatient programs allow you to live at home while receiving treatment, which can be a good option for people with a strong support system.

Meanwhile, detoxification programs can help you safely and effectively withdraw from drugs or alcohol, and tapering programs can help you slowly reduce your intake of substances.

The Cost of Treatment

It can be pretty expensive to receive treatment for addiction, but many different options are available.

A healthcare provider like Care Plus New Jersey have contracts with most major insurance companies with pre determined and fixed rates pre negotiated on your behalf to be the most affordable solution. In addition, programs like Care Plus New Jersey offer sliding-scale fees based on income, and several state-funded programs provide free or low-cost treatment.

Many insurance plans have addiction treatment as a part of their benefit package.

Recommendations

You can also ask for recommendations from your doctor, therapist, or other mental health professionals. Maybe you also have family and friends who have been through treatment and can give you their insights.

Experience in Treating Your Specific Addiction

Choosing a treatment center that has experience treating your specific addiction is important.

For example, if you’re addicted to opioids, you’ll want to ensure the facility has experience treating opioid addiction.

The staff should also be familiar with any other mental health issues you may be struggling with, such as anxiety or depression.

If you’re unsure what kind of treatment you need, a professional assessment can help determine the best course of action.

In Summary

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Cancer patients that are prescribed Actiq should be aware of the potential for misuse, abuse and addiction. Keep both the used and unused blister package of Actiq units out of the reach of children and family pets.

Patients who have become addicted to opioids like fentanyl and Actiq can safely and effectively receive the medical treatment they need with the right treatment center.

Actiq addiction can be treated, and many resources are available to patients and their families. With the right support, anyone struggling with addiction can recover.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out for help.