Fentanyl lollipops are a fast-acting version of the opioid drug, prescribed for the treatment of breakthrough pain. As with all fentanyl, there’s high abuse potential.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid significantly more powerful than morphine. It was originally developed for pain management, particularly for cancer patients. For this purpose, they are available as lollipops to treat breakthrough pain. Because of Fentanyl’s potency and the crisis the United States is facing with the ongoing opioid epidemic, fentanyl is also abused and distributed illegally in America.  

Fentanyl is mainly brought into the U.S. through the southern border, and it is a major culprit for the high number of opioid overdose deaths in America. Fatalities from opioids have increased from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021. 

What Is Fentanyl (Actiq)?

Medically, fentanyl is available in different forms. One brand name version of fentanyl is Actiq, which is an oral transmucosal lozenge on a handle, similar to a lollipop. Actiq was originally approved for medical use in the U.S. in 1968

Actiq is intended for breakthrough cancer pain. Since Actiq is an opioid, it works by attaching to opioid receptors. These receptor sites are located throughout the brain and body. When the opioid attaches to the receptors, it reduces pain by lowering the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Opioids like Actiq don’t treat the underlying cause of pain.

What Are Fentanyl Lollipops?

A fentanyl lollipop refers to the formulation, fentanyl citrate. Fentanyl citrate is prepared into a lozenge that is attached to a handle. However, unlike a lollipop, it should not be sucked, but rather it should be inserted in the mouth and moved along the inside of the cheeks for 15 minutes.

Fentanyl citrate is a fast-acting form of this opioid pain reliever, and it is used to treat breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain occurs quickly and intermittently. It can occur even if someone is regularly using long-acting pain medicines, so fentanyl citrate, in this instance, is an appropriate medication that acts quickly to combat that pain. 

Dangers of Fentanyl Lollipops

Whether someone is prescribed fentanyl lollipops or uses them illicitly, this medication has significant risks. As an opioid, fentanyl can interact with other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines and other narcotics. Fentanyl is 50–100 times stronger than morphine. Common side effects of fentanyl lollipops (Actiq) include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

More serious side effects may occur with this drug, particularly if an individual is abusing or misusing fentanyl lollipops. These dangerous side effects include

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Confusion
  • Strange thoughts or behavior
  • Extreme weakness or tiredness
  • Dependence and addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

Risk of Overdose

Due to its powerful potency, fentanyl lollipops have a high risk for overdose. Overdose deaths from fentanyl have risen dramatically. In 2011, a reported 2,666 Americans died from fentanyl overdose. In 2018 that number skyrocketed to 31,335 people in the United States. This number continues to rise as the supply, distribution and abuse of fentanyl increases. It is important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose. They include

  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hypoxia (decreased oxygen to the brain)
  • Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin as a result of hypoxia)
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Constricted pupils (pinpoint pupils) 
  • Person is unresponsive
  • Slow breathing or breathing that has stopped
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • Death

Seek Help for Fentanyl Addiction in South Jersey

Whether using fentanyl as prescribed, like fentanyl lollipops for legitimate pain, or using fentanyl illicitly, this drug is highly dangerous and addictive. Opioid addiction and opioid use disorders are at epidemic levels in the United States and worldwide. If you are struggling with fentanyl addiction or opioid addiction, you aren’t alone and treatment is available. At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, we work to help people detox from fentanyl and overcome addiction.

Treatment programs include:

If you’d like to learn about our full program options and how they could help you or someone you love overcome addiction to opioids or other substances, we’re here and ready. Contact us today

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As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration . “Drug Fact Sheet: Fentanyl.” April 2020. Accessed August 31, 2022.

Scarpino, Madison. “Fentanyl deaths overwhelm U.S. morgues.” Fox News, August 24, 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “U.S. Overdose Deaths in 2021 Increased H[…]But are Still Up 15%.” May 11, 2022. Accessed August 31, 2022.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Fentanyl.” MedlinePlus, January 15, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Food and Drug Administration. “Highlights of Prescribing Information: Aciq.” 2016. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Arnold-Korzeniowski, Karen. “Fentanyl Citrate (Actiq).” OncoLink, July 7, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fentanyl.” June 1, 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Drugs.com. “Actiq.” October 25, 2021. Accessed August 31, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Fentanyl DrugFacts.” June 1, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Understanding the Epidemic.” March 17, 2021. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.