Actiq Detox: Side Effects, Symptoms & Timeline of Withdrawal
Actiq is a brand name drug that contains fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid. The drug is marketed as a lozenge on a handle—also known as a lollipop—that is meant to be used orally by patients with breakthrough pain who are already tolerant to the effects of opioids. While Actiq can be effective and even necessary in certain situations, the drug can also cause severe dependence and addiction, especially in those who abuse it.
Understanding Actiq Detox
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. This is why it is only used to treat individuals with severe or breakthrough pain. Normally, the lozenge version (marketed as the brand name drug Actiq) is used to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already dependent on and tolerant to the effects of the drug.
However, someone who uses this medication regularly will become dependent on it, and as a result, could experience Actiq withdrawal if they suddenly stop using it. This is one reason why the drug isn’t marketed for consistent use, but dependence sometimes still occurs anyway. Detoxing from Actiq is a medical procedure that must occur in an Actiq detox center.
Actiq Withdrawal Symptoms
- Muscle, joint, and bone pain
- Stomach cramps
- Flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and chills
Withdrawal from Actiq can be very painful since the individual who was dependent on the drug will have a much lower threshold for pain, due to their use of opioids.
Cause of Actiq Withdrawal
Withdrawal from Actiq can occur for a number of reasons.
As evidenced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, people who suddenly discontinue their use of Actiq or other opioid drugs without a slow tapering process can experience withdrawal. This is because these drugs cause an intense physical dependence when taken regularly over several weeks or longer.
Pregnant women who are dependent on Actiq and other opioids can also pass that dependence on to their fetuses. When the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal as well in the form of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Nursing mothers can also pass on this dependence.
People who abuse fentanyl and other opioids to get high often experience a severe dependence as well. This often goes hand-in-hand with addiction.
Many people need treatment in local Actiq detox centers for a safe, gradual recovery from Actiq dependence and withdrawal.
How Long Will Actiq Detox Take?
Actiq detox may last as long as a week or a week and a half in most cases. Usually, individuals going through opioid withdrawal take about this long to safely overcome their symptoms. The syndrome itself is usually broken up into three stages.
Patients begin to feel pain and discomfort 12 hours or so after their last dose of the drug. Patients may also experience anxiety, especially over their inability to obtain more of the drug. Flu-like symptoms begin during this stage as well. This is usually the most intense, painful stage of withdrawal and it often lasts for 2-3 days.
Stage two often sees some overflow from stage one symptoms, but patients also start to experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea at this stage. This stage is often uncomfortable but less so than stage one. It can last for 3-4 days.
Stage three usually occurs when the symptoms have subsided somewhat. However, the syndrome itself usually isn’t over, and patients still require a little more time to fully recover. This stage usually lasts about 1-2 days.
In an Actiq detox program, patients will usually take about this long to recover from their withdrawal syndrome. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the program usually consists of
The first part of the detoxification process is where patients are tested for the severity of their opioid dependence and interviewed on their needs.
Patients in this stage are often given medications to treat their withdrawal symptoms and essentially stabilized.
In this stage, patients are fully stabilized and not experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms anymore because of the medications they are on. They often either choose to stay on the medication or to be tapered off the drugs slowly.
Are there Dangers?
There are certain dangers associated with withdrawal from Actiq, which is why individuals likely to experience this syndrome (and especially those who have already begun to experience symptoms) need to be in an Actiq detox center.
Some of the dangers associated with Actiq withdrawal include
Individuals going through opioid withdrawal often become extremely dehydrated due to the immense sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea experienced during the syndrome. In addition, the individual often isn’t drinking enough water to balance out the loss of fluids.
In local Actiq detox centers, patients are monitored for any signs of dehydration and given fluids whenever necessary.
Some individuals become extremely anxious and act dangerously when they go through opioid withdrawal. They may even become fearful about not obtaining more of the drug, which can lead to risky acts.
In treatment centers, patients are soothed with different methods, including medicinal, therapeutic, and holistic. This keeps severe anxiety from setting in.
Relapse is by far the most dangerous potential outcome of opioid withdrawal. Many people do relapse during or after withdrawal, especially those who do not attend professional treatment. According to the NIDA, relapse rates for drug addiction are between 40 and 60 percent.
Those who relapse during or after detox are the most at risk of experiencing a deadly overdose (NLM 2). This often occurs because the individual’s tolerance is much lower than it once was. Still, many individuals will relapse and use the same amount of the drug they once did, causing a fatal overdose.
When patients are treated in professional detox centers, they are protected from the potential of relapse.
These dangerous side effects are serious and those likely to experience Actiq withdrawal should seek treatment in safe, professional detox centers. Otherwise, they could end up experiencing these outcomes.
Actiq Side Effects
Actiq can cause a number of side effects in patients and in those who take the drug for recreational use. Too much Actiq can lead to potentially fatal overdose. Overdose signs include:
- weak or shallow breathing
- blue fingers, toes or lips
- light-headed or feeling as if you may faint
- excessive confusion or drowsiness that is difficult to overcome
Certain Actiq side effects may signify an allergic reaction. If you suffer from any of the following side effects when using an Actiq lozenge it is important to immediately remove the medication from your mouth and call 911:
- swelling of the face, tongue or lips
- hives or rash
- difficulty breathing
- irritation of the throat including swelling
Serotonin syndrome, “a potentially life-threatening syndrome that is precipitated by the use of serotonergic drugs and overactivation of both the peripheral and central postsynaptic receptors,” may occur from use of Fentanyl lollipops or other forms of Actiq according to the US National Library of Medicine.
If signs of Serotonin Syndrome are present, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. These signs include:
- irritability or agitation
- fever or excess sweating
- rapid heartbeat
- stiffness of muscles
- nausea or vomiting
- twitching or muscle jerking
Frequent or long-term use of this opiate may lead to serious side effects that require medical intervention or additional treatment. Addiction to opiates is a difficult disorder to treat. If you or someone you love is struggling with the following side effects of Actiq and appears to be addicted to the drug, detox and subsequent rehabilitation treatment may be required for your safety. Signs of addiction include:
- Excessive desire to continue using Actiq despite the known consequences or loss of lifestyle that occurs as a result of the substance use.
- Difficulty controlling the use of this or any other opiate.
- Taking more Actiq than prescribed or using it more frequently than prescribed.
- Taking this or other opiates without a prescription.
- Using this drug or other drugs to cope with stress.
- Taking Actiq or other drugs for any reason other than prescribed.
- Struggling to maintain appropriate responsibilities at work, home or school.
- Missing work or school because of the amount of drugs being used.
- Avoiding or missing out on family functions and events because of the drug use.
- Choosing to spend time using drugs versus spending time doing the things you once loved.
This is not a complete list of the possible side effects that may occur as a result of opiate use or the use of Actiq specifically. Consult with your doctor or contact a professional if you are experiencing side effects of Actiq and need help.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Withdrawal?
Treatment for opioid withdrawal needs to occur in a professional detox or rehab center in order to be a safe and comfortable as possible for the patient. There are many different treatment options available, some of which are evidence-based practices and others of which are holistic.
Pharmacological treatments for opioid withdrawal are often used by most medical detox centers to treat patients safely. These medications can minimize withdrawal symptoms, stabilize the patient, and help them focus on getting better. They include
- Methadone: an opioid agonist
- Buprenorphine: a partial opioid agonist-antagonist. Buprenorphine is available as both Subutex and Suboxone, the latter of which also contains naloxone.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was found in one study that medications were used in almost 80 percent of all detox programs. Some facilities prefer not to use this option, but in the case of opioid withdrawal, it minimizes symptoms and makes the whole experience safer and more pleasant.
Behavioral therapies can be useful for treating Actiq withdrawal, especially in those with severe symptoms of anxiety and/or co-occurring mental disorders. Some of the most popular therapies utilized during drug withdrawal include
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- 12-step facilitation therapy
- Contingency management
Some individuals react very well to holistic treatments for opioid withdrawal, which many Actiq detox centers offer as part of care. These treatments take the entire individual into account, instead of just treating specific symptoms, and can include certain experimental options such as
- Massage therapy
- Tai Chi
In addition, it is always important that patients who seek out detox programs for a drug dependency seek addiction treatment afterward if necessary. If you or someone you love was abusing Actiq and became dependent, it is likely they are addicted too. According to the NIDA, medical detoxification is only the first part of one’s recovery process and must be followed by rehab if the individual was, in fact, addicted.
Still, many Actiq detox programs offer a way for patients to easily transition from withdrawal treatment to addiction treatment. This is one reason why detox is considered a beneficial first step in addiction recovery.
Inpatient or Outpatient Actiq Detox
Actiq detox facilities come in two main types: inpatient and outpatient. Though there are many subcategories of detox facilities, most will fall under one of these two categories. Depending on your needs for a safe recovery from Actiq withdrawal, one may be more effective for you than the other.
Inpatient detox centers provide safe, effective detox in a 24-hour facility. Many of these also provide hospitalized care, though residential facilities (a type of inpatient center) do not provide hospitalization.
Patients can expect to be in a controlled environment all day and all night with supervision from medical professionals. Patients receive meals, accommodations, and time for daily activities in addition to their behavioral therapy sessions, classes, and/or medications.
Outpatient detox centers provide the same general treatment options as inpatient centers, although some of the more extraneous options may not be included. This is because outpatient centers do not provide 24-hour care but rather allow patients to visit to receive their treatment.
In the case of Actiq detox, many individuals attend treatment daily at first and then may start to attend less and less as they start to heal. These facilities often provide medications—in the case of opioid detox, on a daily basis—and behavioral therapies. Classes or group meetings, such as 12-step meetings, may also be available at these facilities.
Choosing between these types of detox centers can be difficult, especially if you are unsure as to which will best suit your recovery. However, every patient requires the best, safest treatment options for their particular needs, including a treatment center that provides the care they require to safely recover.
Benefits of Inpatient Actiq Detox
In the case of Actiq detox centers, inpatient care is often the best choice. This is because of the many additional options one gains through inpatient care and because of the intensity of the program, which is often required for those who are dependent on a drug as strong as Actiq. There are other reasons you may want to choose this option as well.
A study published in Psychiatric Quarterly suggested that patients who are suffering from a comorbid mental disorder should seek inpatient care. If you have a disorder like this, inpatient treatment will benefit you because it is more intensive than outpatient care.
Those with severe dependencies and/or addictions often need inpatient treatment to recover safely. This is often the case for individuals struggling with Actiq withdrawal because this drug is so much more potent than other opioids. Most people who become dependent on it have already experienced issues with opioid addiction and dependence in the past and need more intensive help.
Another benefit of inpatient treatment is it offers 24-hour care and surveillance. As a result, there is no possibility that the patient can relapse during detox, as they will be monitored at all times. People suffering from Actiq dependence and addiction often need this kind of help, as the drug has usually caused a severe syndrome and it will be extremely difficult for the patient to avoid relapse on their own.
Inpatient centers are often more likely to provide holistic treatments like the ones listed above. If any of these treatments sound beneficial to you, you may want to choose inpatient care. Most outpatient centers do not have the funds to offer anything beyond the evidence-based practices for detox.
Finally, inpatient detox often provides individuals with a clear track to addiction treatment. Those who have become addicted to Actiq will require addiction treatment, as detox alone will not be enough to minimize this issue.
Every patient goes through Actiq detox in their own way, but the safest way to do so is in a professional, inpatient Actiq detox program. Afterwards, most patients can easily find help in order to seek out the addiction treatment program that will best suit their recovery.
Find a Local Actiq Detox Center
All you need to do is follow a few simple steps and you can find the care that will best suit your needs.
Consider everything your treatment center will need to be effective for you. According to the NIDA, this includes considering your financial, medical, psychological, vocational, and legal needs. Your culture, ethnicity, age, and gender should also be taken into account.
Make sure when you call any treatment center that you have some basic information ready, such as
- Your insurance information
- Your medical records and substance abuse history information
- Your primary doctor’s phone number and information
- Your needs for an effective treatment center
- Once our treatment advisor has this information, they will be able to match you with several local Actiq detox centers where you can begin your safe recovery.
Remember: you are not alone when you are looking for safe, effective detox treatment.