First developed in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic, Actiq exists as one of the many brand name formulations of fentanyl. As one of the most powerful prescription opioids on the market, fentanyl works exceptionally well at relieving conditions involving severe pain. Unfortunately, this drug’s strong pain-relieving potential comes with an equally high risk for abuse and addiction.
Actiq works in the brain like most any other opiate-based drug. Actiq’s side effect profile also resembles that of the stronger opiate drugs.
Due to Actiq’s high addiction potential, certain precautionary measures should be taken before using this drug. For individuals who get caught up in Actiq’s abuse and addiction cycle, a range of treatment options are available to help recover from the effects of this most powerful drug.
For more information on Actiq addiction treatment programs, call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274.
In 2014, an estimated 6.64 million prescriptions for fentanyl, Actiq’s active ingredient, were dispensed in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Actiq, a specific brand name for fentanyl, is designed to dissolve in the mouth much like one would eat a lollipop.
Actiq also comes in a generic form that goes by the name of Oral Transmucosal Fentanyl Citrate or OTFC. Actiq and OTFC come in raspberry flavoring, an additive ingredient containing two grams of sugar per dose.
In total, there are six dosage levels for the fentanyl ingredient: 200, 400, 600, 800, 1200 and 1600 micrograms each.
Street names exist as a type of “underground” jargon designed to camouflage Actiq and fentanyl references in general conversation. This type of lingo works especially well for teenagers wanting to hide their drug use from parents.
Street names that reference Actiq in particular include “lollipop drug” and “perc-a-pop.”
Nowadays, fentanyl preparations have become a regular ingredient in heroin so an assortment of street names have developed out of this practice, including:
- Dance Fever
- China Girl
- China White
- Tango and Cash
- Murder 8
As an opiate pain reliever, Actiq’s main ingredient (fentanyl) has a potency level equal to 100 times that of morphine. According to the U. S. Food & Drug Administration, at this potency level, Actiq can be used to:
- Treat severe pain symptoms of most any kind
- Manage pain intensity after surgery
- Treat breakthrough pain for cancer patients currently on other opiate-type drugs
Not surprisingly, Actiq’s use as a drug of abuse has been increasing as its fentanyl ingredient is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
How Does Actiq Work?
Actiq belongs to the Schedule II class of controlled substances, which makes for a powerful pain-reliever as well as a highly addictive drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Actiq works by stimulating the body’s opioid receptors to produce large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, particularly dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Opioid receptors reside throughout the brain and entral nervous system. In effect, Actiq slows nerve signal transmissions and blocks pain signals from reaching the brain’s sensory centers. These interactions account for Actiq’s pain-relieving effects.
Actiq Side Effects
Actiq side effects develop out of growing brain chemical imbalances that result from its ability to stimulate neurotransmitter production. Since neurotransmitters play central roles in maintaining normal body function, imbalances tend to give rise to side effect symptoms.
Actiq side effects typically take the form of:
- Feelings of euphoria and calm
- Slowed breathing rates
- Changes in heart rate
- Itchy skin
Also, Actiq’s high-sugar coating can cause dental problems, such as cavities to develop over time.
Actiq’s ability to slow down nerve signal transmissions can have grave consequences when using this drug in excess. These slowing effects inevitably start to impair one of more of the body’s major systems, and especially the respiratory system.
When taken in large enough amounts, Actiq’s effects can cause respiratory depression to the point where this system shuts down. For this reason, respiratory failure exists as the number one danger associated with Actiq abuse.
The feelings of euphoria and calm that come with Actiq use can easily become a prime motivation for abusing this drug. Actiq also produces short-acting effects, which can drive users to keep taking the drug in order to prolong its effects.
With Actiq abuse comes physical dependence, a condition that results from ongoing chemical imbalances in the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health, signs of physical dependence take the form of withdrawal effects, some of which include:
- Aches muscles and bones
Actiq carries an incredibly high addiction potential, especially for people who are prone towards compulsive behavior patterns, according to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. Actiq’s physical effects combined with the rewarding effects of euphoria and calm can easily drive a person to engage in compulsive drug-using behaviors.
Actiq’s addiction potential greatly increases with ongoing and/or long-term drug use.
Actiq Addiction Treatment
People struggling with Actiq addiction have lost the ability to control their drug intake. This loss of control overpowers good judgment and decision-making abilities to the point where addicts ignore the consequences of drug use no matter how dire.
Actiq addiction treatment entails three stages:
While most everyone will require some form of detoxification and addiction treatment, only the worse cases of addiction require rehabilitation. Rehabilitation has to do with helping a person get back on his or her feet, such as finding gainful employment, medical treatment, building a support system and even finding suitable housing in some cases.
Like most all powerful opiate-based addictions, the aftereffects of Actiq addiction can leave a person susceptible to relapse for months or even years after drug use stops. For these reasons, addiction treatment can become a long-term process, especially for people coming off months or years of chronic drug abuse.
Ultimately, the sooner a person seeks out treatment help the easier the recovery process will be.
If you suspect you or someone you know struggles with Actiq abuse and need help finding a treatment program, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.