How to Treat ACTIQ Addiction
In an ever-worsening opioid epidemic, fentanyl (a drug which used to be all but unknown) is starting to become a focal point of this crisis. Fentanyl is popping up in heroin (unbeknownst to users), dealers are selling fentanyl with the promise of a more intense high, and overdoses due to fentanyl are on the rise. In 2016, legendary music icon, Prince, died from an accidental overdose of this potent painkiller. While a “lollipop” may seem relatively innocuous, ACTIQ is still fentanyl and the dangers and addictive potential exist like any other form of this drug.
If you or someone you know is abusing ACTIQ, the stakes are high. Don’t wait to seek help. It could save your life or that of your loved one.
Can You Get Addicted to ACTIQ?
Yes. ACTIQ is very addictive. Fentanyl has a strong addiction potential due to its 11:
- (It is 50-100 times more potent than morphine 10.)
- Quick onset of action. (Effects come on quickly.)
- Short duration of effects. (Effects don’t last long, requiring repeated doses.)
In the body, the drug works similarly to morphine and the similarly used oxycodone by attaching to opioid receptors and altering the brain’s perception of pain. When the substance interacts with the brain’s opioid receptors, it triggers a release of dopamine. Increases in dopamine activity are, in part, responsible for the feelings of relaxation and pleasure that are associated with opioid use. Many find these euphoric sensations to be intensely rewarding, which then encourages repeated use that can quickly lead to a pattern of abuse and eventually addiction 3,10.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
Someone addicted to ACTIQ will compulsively seek the substance even while negative consequences are likely to occur. They will use it 10:
- In ways other than prescribed.
- More often than prescribed.
- For reasons other than prescribed.
- Without a valid prescription.
Someone addicted to ACTIQ will likely experience at least some of a long list of physical and psychological symptoms such as fever, weight loss, problems sleeping, constipation, anxiety, mood changes, and even symptoms of psychosis.
They will continually need to use more and more as their tolerance to the drug increases, and when they have become physically in need of the drug, they will experience intense opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Am I Addicted to ACTIQ?
Noting the recognizable signs of addiction in yourself can be much more complex than seeing the signs of addiction in others, especially when you’re holding a valid prescription for the drug. Due to feelings of shame, guilt, and anger, it is challenging to be honest with yourself about whether you have a problem 4. Also, the ability of the drug to alter your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can make it more difficult to be objective about the negative symptoms you might be experiencing.
If you are addicted to ACTIQ, you may 4,11:
- Struggle to maintain your healthy relationships.
- Begin new relationships with other substance abusers.
- Be unable to maintain commitments at work, home, or school.
- Fail to pay your bills on time.
- Encounter problems with law enforcement.
- Try unsuccessfully to reduce or end use.
- Seek multiple prescriptions from different doctors.
How to Approach an Addict
Do you know someone who’s abusing ACTIQ? If so, deciding on a way to approach your loved one can be a confusing prospect. It can be challenging to know if they are using ACTIQ appropriately, abusing the substance alone or in combination with other drugs, or if their changes are due in part to the presence of a mental health condition. You’ll need to observe your loved one and specifically note 4:
- Drugs being used and how the drugs are being used.
- How they are spending their time. (Are they spending a great deal of time in seeking out, using, and recovering from ACTIQ?)
- Their physical symptoms.
- Changes in their behavior and relationships.
- Unexpected mood fluctuations.
The more you observe your loved one, the better you will be able to accurately assess the situation and come up with a well-prepared plan for discussing the problem. Before the actual conversation, you should consider 4,5:
- Building a thought-out plan of action with an emphasis on professional treatment.
- Establishing a calm environment.
- Ensuring that this is a productive opportunity for a conversation, while taking steps to minimize anger and distraction (such as having the discussion during a sober moment).
When speaking to your loved about their ACTIQ abuse, you should strive to 5:
- Ask many questions and listen intently to the answers.
- Stay calm and patient to foster understanding and honesty.
- Focus on problem-solving from a supportive perspective.
- Encourage more desirable behaviors.
- Avoid unwanted behaviors like acting judgmental, angry, sarcastic, or accusatory.
- Negotiate reasonable rewards and consequences for forthcoming actions while setting limits for what is not acceptable.
- Plan days and times for you to follow up with them.
Some people struggle to effectively communicate due to reasons including strong emotions or their own substance use. Fortunately, there is a treatment created to aid people affected by a loved one’s substance use called community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT). CRAFT is a skills-based approach that teaches concerned significant others (CSOs) how to acknowledge and modify their reactions to a drug-using loved one, to more effectively 7:
- Promote abstinence.
- Reduce the risk of violence.
- Minimize stress and increase positive emotions for all people involved.
- Prepare the CSO to engage the addicted individual in treatment (and propose a return to treatment in case of relapse).
CRAFT is built around the idea of encouraging treatment until the person is prepared to accept it.
Another approach, the formal intervention, forces the issue rather than waiting until the substance abuser is ready. A staged intervention is a meeting involving the addict and their loved ones. Loved ones use the meeting to compel the addict to seek treatment by discussing the negative influence of the substance use in their lives and stating the consequences for continuing to use 4.
Interventions can evoke strong feelings of anger and, sometimes, a sense of having been deceived since the meeting is likely to come as a surprise to the substance user 4. To maintain a productive session and minimize negative feelings, you may wish to employ an intervention specialist/interventionist to plan and guide the course of the meeting.
When an ACTIQ addict agrees to seek help, professional treatment is advised. These services can manage the discomfort and uncertainty involved in the time between the last use of the drug and the early days of recovery.
Medically-assisted/ medically-supervised detoxification will be appropriate in many cases of significant opioid dependence. Attempts to detox at home are often intensely unpleasant, but in the controlled environment of a detox center, professionals can assist by increasing comfort and safety 6,8.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an option to support the recovery process, reduce discomfort, and minimize cravings for more ACTIQ or other opioid drugs. This involves the addition of a stabilizing opioid medication—such as buprenorphine or methadone—to facilitate ongoing abstinence and prevent relapse. This can begin during or after detoxification 6,8.
In addition to MAT, a number of evidence-based behavioral therapies may be utilized to treat opioid addictions. Some therapies with good results include 8,9:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This approach explores the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to better understand triggers for substance use and methods to prevent relapse. CBT can address underlying mental health concerns as well.
- Community reinforcement approach (CRA). Sharing the strategies, techniques, and orientation with CRAFT, CRA works with available supports in the family and community to build and maintain recovery.
- Motivational interviewing. MI strives to improve the person’s own motivation for change rather than focusing on external pressures.
- Contingency management. Focusing on behaviors exclusively, CM programs dispense valuable rewards to encourage behaviors associated with a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.
Many people that abuse substances have mental health issues as well 4. Because of these common comorbidities, a psychiatric evaluation may be helpful to assess and treat any mental illness with medications. Fortunately, the above behavioral therapies can be used in conjunction with medications to treat mental health conditions and substance abuse issues simultaneously.
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- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2011). ACTIQ.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Research Report Series: Prescription Drug Abuse.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
- Scruggs, S.M., Meyer, R, Kayo, R. (2014). Community Reinforcement and Family Training Support and Prevention.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug Facts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug AddictionTreatment: A Research-Based Guide.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2016). Prescription Pain Medications: Opioids.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2015). Fentanyl.