Fentanyl Crisis PA

Fentanyl Lollipops

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Fentanyl Lollipop Background

In the early 1990s prescription opioids were introduced into the American health care system. Since then, opioid addictions have continued to be a major health concern in the United States. The growing crisis claimed 75,000 deaths this past year alone [1]. As the concern has grown, the government has tried to tackle addiction and overdoses with a multifaceted approach. One of the loudest drugs in the arena of addiction has been fentanyl.  A deadly prescription painkiller when used without a prescription, fentanyl is the number one cause of death for adults.

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What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that was developed in the 1960s by Jansen pharmaceuticals. Originally used as an anesthetic, fentanyl was found to be a powerful pain killer. With a potency, 50-100 times that of morphine [2] it works for opioid-resistant patients. Therefore, doctors will prescribe fentanyl for cancer patients in extreme pain. It has been found to be highly addictive and abused for its euphoric high. On the black market, fentanyl is produced and sold typically as pills or cut into other drugs.

Learn more about Fentanyl

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Fentanyl Addiction

It is estimated that approximately 1.6 million Americans [3] have a substance use disorder involving prescription pain medication. These drugs either enter the black market through false prescriptions or illicit production. Fentanyl use disorder occurs when someone is specifically addicted to fentanyl.

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Fentanyl Lollipops

One form of fentanyl is a lozenge or a lollipop. The brand name for this form of fentanyl is Actiq. Actiq combines fentanyl with the active ingredient citrate and flavoring. The lollipop is sucked, and the medicine is absorbed through the oral mucosa into the bloodstream. [4] 

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Fentanyl Lollipop Uses

The benefit of fentanyl lollipops is their controlled release. When a patient receives a fentanyl dose through a pill or an injection, they receive the full dose of fentanyl at once. Whereas with lollipops it’s a slow release of fentanyl with each lick. Therefore, the patient can stop sucking the lollipop once the pain subsides, which can allow for a smaller dose.

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Fentanyl Lollipop Military Use

Another use for the lollipop is amongst the military. In the military, paramedics don’t always have access to sterile conditions. The fentanyl lollipops don’t require sterile conditions and are therefore easily used in the military field.

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How Do Fentanyl Lollipops Interact with the Body?

Fentanyl binds to and activates opioid receptors in the brain when it enters the body. This causes an increase in dopamine, the body’s “feel-good” neurotransmitter. The excess dopamine released can cause the body to need fentanyl to stimulate dopamine production. [5]

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Fentanyl Lollipop Addiction

According to the DSM-5, an opioid use disorder is when a person uses opioids to a degree that it distresses or impairs the individual.

Some of the symptoms of a disorder can be.

  • Opioid cravings
  • Use of opioids more frequently than needed
  • Use leading to decreasing productivity significantly
  • Obsessing over the next opioid use
  • Experiencing withdrawal and using similar drugs to prevent withdrawal
  • Repeated use of opioids even when detrimental

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Side Effects of Actiq Use

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Constipation
  • Drowsy
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspnea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • CNS depression
  • Acute confusion
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • False sense of well-being
  • Hypotension
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Respiratory depression
  • Xerostomia
  • Hallucinations
  • General weakness
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Headache disorder
  • Urinary retention
  • Nervousness

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Fentanyl Lollipop Price

The street price of fentanyl is approximately $8. This is relatively cheap in comparison to other drugs, which also contributes to its wide misuse.

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Fentanyl Lollipop Dose

The dosing of the lollipop can be adjusted as consumed. A doctor will usually tell a patient to take the fentanyl suckers until the pain subsides and then stop. This way the dosage is controlled.

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Fentanyl Overdoses

Fentanyl can be fatal in even as small as a dose of 2 milligrams. Unfortunately, in DEA testing, it was found that illicit fentanyl is sold in as high of a dose as .02 to 5.1 mg, which is more than twice the fatal dose. Learn more about how much fentanyl can kill a human by reading our online resource.

The effects of a fentanyl overdose can be.

  • stupor
  • changes in pupillary size
  • cold and clammy skin
  • cyanosis - blue discoloration of the skin
  • respiratory failure leading to death

Learn more about Fentanyl Overdose

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Treatment for Actiq Addiction

While treatment for an addiction can be challenging, research has shown that it is possible. Effective treatment usually incorporates a mix of detoxification, counseling, and medication. The two main components of treatment are medications and behavioral therapy. A treatment facility will assess a patient’s needs and provide the best treatment plan for everyone. [6]

Usually, a fentanyl use disorder requires intensive inpatient rehab to recover. However, there are other treatment options as well such as outpatient rehab or various therapies. Being in an inpatient facility can help a patient manage the withdrawal symptoms and get through it safely and provide support for quitting a Fentanyl addiction. A facility will provide medical oversight, counseling, and evaluations to help a person recover. Stress management skills and coping strategies are powerful tools that can be used as well. Reach out to Avenues Recovery today if you are suffering from a fentanyl addiction.

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[1] cdc.gov

[2] cdc.gov

[3] samhsa.gov

[4] drugs.com

[5] jpain.org

[6] nida.nih.gov

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