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Actiq is a solid form of Fentanyl Citrate which is much stronger than Morphine.  It is normally prescribed for chronic pain such as that felt by cancer or other diseases that aren’t affected by any other medications.  It should not be used by someone who has a low tolerance to opioid pain relievers.

What is Actiq?

ActiqAn opiod pain medicine that was approved by the FDA to treat caner pain, Actiq is prescribed to treat discomfort cancer patient may experience despite taking other pain medications. The drug is typically administered only to treat pain that is the result of cancer and is not generally used as a multipurpose painkiller. Patients who use the drug must enroll in a special program called the Actiq REMS Program as this is the only legal means of obtaining the prescription. Nevertheless, Actiq is also abused by some drug users. Due to its high potential for addiction, the drug, which comes in the form of a lollipop or lozenge, is recommended to only be used by pain specialists and oncologists to treat patients who have already built up a tolerance against opioids through the course of treatment for chronic pain. In the U.S., Actiq is considered a Schedule II controlled substance and is accompanied by morphine, other opioids such as oxycodone and oxymorphone, methadone, mixed amphetamine salts or Adderall, and short acting barbituates. These drugs are approved in the United States for medical use; however, they have a high potential for abuse, and abuse may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.

Growing Concerns Over Abuse

In recent years, it has become evident that use of the highly addictive opium derivative, Actiq, has expanded far beyond its intended purpose of treating cancer-related pain. Worker compensation programs generally handle very few cancer cases; however, in 2003, Actiq was listed as number 15th in a ranking of total medicine costs in worker compensation claims that were filed with the Hartford Financial Group. The drug had been ranked 26th only two years prior. Patients with neck, back, or other painful ailments were found to have been taking Actiq up to four times a day. This trend led to insurance companies placing more restrictions and limitations on instances in which the drug may be used. However, addiction specialists also reported that an increase in use of the drug also coincided with an increase of the abuse of Actiq as a street drug, referred to as perc-a-pop. Eventually, addiction treatment professionals began seeing their first clients who showed signs of an addiction to Actiq. The initial cases typically involved people who were prescribed the drug and continued to use it by obtaining it from the street or by doctor shopping. While the effects of Actiq are not as long lasting as those of commonly abused opium-derived Oxycontin, those who use Actiq often prefer the drug’s quick effect as it is designed to hit the bloodstream within seven to 15 minutes.

Effects of Actiq

Actiq works in the brain by binding to the opiate receptors, which are mostly found in the areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. Taking the drug increases dopamine levels in the brain to produce a sense of euphoria and relaxation. Signs of addiction include altering prescribed dose or using more of the drugs than originally intended, continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences, or using the drug for unintended reasons. Side effects may include drowsiness, nausea, sedation, constipation, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest, coma, unconsciousness, confusion, and even death. Users who become addicted to Actiq may experience withdrawal symptoms that may lead to increased use of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may include hot flashes, anxiety, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, night sweats, muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, confusion, and tremors.

Risks

One major risk of using Actiq is overdose. Overdose is considered taking more than four lozenges, and the result can be fatal. Overdose may be characterized by the following signs:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Fainting
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Fluid in lungs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Inability to walk or talk normally

Overdose symptoms may vary based on the level of tolerance the individual has built against the drug, the dosage, whether the person has additional medical conditions, and whether Actiq was taken with other drugs. If overdose is suspected seeking medical help as quickly as possible may save the victim’s life. Upon confirming overdose, medical personnel will administer a charcoal treatment in which charcoal is used to absorb the drug in the stomach and limit the amount that enters the bloodstream. The patient then will typically be given an antidote to neutralize the drug’s effects.

Recovering From Actiq Abuse and Addiction

People who suspect they or their friend or family member may be abusing Actiq should seek to help the person immediately. Contacting the prescribing doctor is an excellent first step in cases in which the drug user has obtained a prescription. In instances in which the drug user has obtained the drug illegally, assisting the person with contacting a drug treatment or rehabilitation center may help the person realize he or she has an addiction and receive the comprehensive treatment that will help the person start on the road to recovery. Overall, it is important that prescribing doctors, patients, and the public understand the dangers that are associated with abusing Actiq and the high potential for becoming addicted to the drug.

When using Actiq illegally, criminal prosecution is also a considerable risk that may result in a negative criminal record that can follow the drug user throughout his or her life as well as possible incarceration.

Are You or Someone You Know Addicted to Actiq?

As with most prescription drugs, there is a risk of developing increased tolerance or even addiction if the dosing directions are not followed precisely.  It can also happen after extended use as  the body becomes adjusted to the amount of the drug in the system.  If you are using Actiq and feel that it isn’t working as well as it should, you might be developing an increased tolerance. Do not increase the dosage without consulting your physician because doing so could eventually lead to addiction.

Symptoms of Overdose

Actiq overdose could present the following symptoms:  shallow breathing, weak pulse, and fainting. If these symptoms appear, the user should be medically monitored because this could be life-threatening.  It is advised that anyone with a drug addiction problem should not be given Actiq because of the likelihood that they would abuse the drug.  Anyone using to should have a prescription based on their physical needs, and it should never be shared with anyone.

Before prescribing Actiq, a physician will determine whether any of the following conditions are present:  kidney or liver disease, heart problems, low blood pressure, allergies, history of seizures, or history of mental illness or depression.  Don’t withhold information from the doctor, because you could be putting your life in danger.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If a person has used Actiq for a prolonged period of time then suddenly discontinues use, many uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can appear such as depression, nausea, and vomiting, anxiety, depression, cramps, and malaise. Professional treatment at an inpatient treatment facility is often needed for safe, effective detoxification from this drug.

Contact us right away if you experience adverse symptoms or feel you might be addicted to Actiq.  We can give you the help you need.

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