Actiq Fentanyl Lollipop Addiction
Fentanyl is a prescription medication that doctors prescribe to treat pain. Fentanyl is also manufactured and sold illegally. The powerful, synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.1
In its prescription form, fentanyl is sold under different brand name formulations, including Actiq. Actiq is available as an oral transmucosal lozenge sometimes referred to as a “fentanyl lollipop.” While Actiq is typically prescribed by medical professionals to control breakthrough cancer pain, it can be misused and lead to several negative consequences.2
What Is a Fentanyl Lollipop?
“Fentanyl lollipops” is the nickname for prescription Actiq, an oral transmucosal lozenge.2 These are often prescribed for breakthrough cancer pain in patients already receiving ongoing opioid therapy.2 The active ingredient in Actiq is fentanyl citrate.3 Fentanyl is combined with inactive ingredients, including citric acid and flavoring, and modified food starch to create a flavored medication.3 Fentanyl rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and produces effects similar to morphine.2
Prescription drugs, including Actiq, can be misused in several ways, including:4
- Taking a medication in a dose or way other than prescribed, such as snorting.
- Taking someone else’s medication, even for a legitimate medical complaint, such as pain.
- Taking a medication for its subjective effects, such as “getting high.”
Misusing prescription drugs can have serious consequences. Unfortunately, prescription drug misuse is on the rise.4 According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), prescription pain relievers were the most misused prescription drug by people aged 12 or older. The NSDUH reports that of the 14.3 million people in 2021 who misused prescription drugs in the past year, 8.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers.5
Misusing opioids, including Actiq, is dangerous and increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), overdose, and more.6
Actiq Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction
Like many other drugs of misuse, continued use of Actiq can lead to tolerance.1 When tolerance develops, the medication no longer produces the same effects at the same dose, which can cause a person to take more.7
Over time, an individual may become dependent on Actiq, where the body requires the drug to function normally.1 Dependence can occur in those taking fentanyl as prescribed; however, it may result in or be an element of addiction.1 Suddenly stopping or decreasing the drug use can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms in people dependent on fentanyl.7
The use and misuse of opioids like Actiq can lead to the development of a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction.8 Medical professionals diagnose SUD using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). A medical professional may make a diagnosis if an individual meets 2 or more of the following criteria within a 12-month period:8
- Being unable to cut back or stop using opioids despite a desire to do so.
- Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of opioids.
- Experiencing cravings, or an intense desire, to use opioids.
- Being unable to fulfill obligations at home, school, or work due to opioid use.
- Continuing to use opioids despite having interpersonal or social problems that are caused or worsened by substance use.
- Using opioids in situations where it is dangerous to do so (e.g., driving).
- Using opioids despite having a persistent mental or physical health problem that is likely due to substance use.
- Giving up occupational, recreational, or social activities to use opioids.
- Developing tolerance, meaning you need more opioids to achieve previous effects.
- Experiencing opioid withdrawal when you stop using the drug. (Note: For people who take Actiq under medical supervision, experiencing withdrawal symptoms does not count as meeting diagnostic criteria).
Fentanyl Lollipop Effects
Whether someone is using Actiq as prescribed by their doctor or misusing it, they may experience side effects. The most common side effects of Actiq include:1
- Difficulty sleeping.
Actiq can also have more severe side effects, including breathing problems (e.g., shallow, slowed, or stopped breathing) and decreased blood pressure.1 Actiq is a Schedule II substance, and the use or misuse can lead to physical dependence and increased risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction.1
An Actiq overdose may occur in an individual who takes enough of the drug to cause life-threatening symptoms.1 Combining opioids with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, increases the risk of overdose.9
Opioid overdose symptoms include:9
- Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils.”
- Falling asleep or loss of consciousness.
- Slow, shallow breathing.
- Choking or gurgling sounds.
- Poor reflexes.
- Pale, blue, or cold skin.
Naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can treat an opioid overdose by rapidly reversing the effects of opioids and restoring normal breathing and consciousness. Receiving immediate medical attention, including 911 assistance, is crucial in overdose situations, even if naloxone is administered.9
If you suspect a person is experiencing an overdose, call 911. Do not leave the person before first responders arrive. If you have naloxone, administer it. Do your best to make sure the individual stays breathing and conscious. Position the individual on their side to prevent choking.9
Finding Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl misuse or addiction, seeking a treatment program is an important step toward recovery. Fortunately, there are a range of treatment options available. Detox is often the initial phase of treatment, during which the body clears itself of substances while under medical supervision. This can help facilitate the transition to ongoing treatment in an inpatient or outpatient rehab.
Inpatient rehab involves residing at a treatment facility for intensive, structured care. This can provide a supportive environment away from triggers and 24/7 monitoring or support. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to attend treatment while continuing to live at home. It can offer more flexibility, and some may be able to maintain responsibilities at home, school, or work.
There are helpful resources available to find a treatment program. Our treatment locator tool can help you find a facility that offers fentanyl addiction treatment near you or out of state. Narrow your search by inputting criteria such as location, type of care, and accepted insurance.
Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and we’re here to help you achieve a healthier future. If you’re ready to take the first step, contact American Addiction Centers at to speak with an admissions navigator. It’s free, and there is no obligation to enter treatment.
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