We all know about different candies; from chocolates to gummy worms, seasonal candy like candy corn, and everything in between. Sometimes we use candy as a reward for children learning new tasks, like potty training. It is given for birthdays, holidays, and seen at celebrations. Even people with anxiety or those trying to quit smoking will use hard candies to distract them from intrusive thoughts or cravings.
In the illicit drug world, dealers sometimes make substances look like candies. This might encourage substance use among the younger crowds. But what about legal forms of substances – such as fentanyl – that look similar to candy? How do we protect our loved ones from fentanyl lollipops?
When it comes to prescription opioids, Tennessee is no stranger to the dangers of misuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been following fentanyl use and overdoses for quite some time. They state that one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to be lethal in 500,000 people. Overdose deaths have risen in Tennessee tremendously – from 169 in 2016 to 2,014 in 2021. Some state officials believe the issue is fentanyl appearing in rainbow pill forms, looking similar to candy.
Here at ReVIDA® Recovery, we understand the ease of accessibility to opioid medications, even those as strong as fentanyl. Our goal is to educate the public and provide a safe space in which freedom from fentanyl addiction is possible. Today, we are discussing what a fentanyl lollipop is and what you need to know about its side effects and possible dangers.
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What Are Fentanyl Lollipops, and How Do They Work?
The term fentanyl lollipop is actually misleading. It refers to a type of oral fentanyl, in the form of a dissolvable lozenge that is used in opioid naïve patients and in the treatment of pain in cancer patients. The lozenge is dissolved in the mouth and then swallowed where it is absorbed through the stomach. This gives patients the rapid feeling of effects while providing ease of delivery for those who have difficulties swallowing or keeping things down.
The Origins of Fentanyl Lollipops
The fentanyl lollipop was initially designed for those who are opioid naïve, meaning those who have never taken opioids may do better taking the lozenge form. However, the side effects associated with the lozenge rendered this use not beneficial. In cancer patients, the fentanyl lozenge was found to produce pain reduction while being easier to take. Even if the fentanyl lollipop could not be completely swallowed, the effects were still distributed to the patient via the mouth.
The Risk and Benefits of Fentanyl Lollipops
The benefits of fentanyl lollipops are mainly related to treating cancer patients. The fast-acting effects and ease of administration make the lozenge a go-to for treating pain. Patients that cannot handle intravenous medication can benefit from the lozenge, even if they are unable to swallow.
As with any medication, there are risks associated with fentanyl lollipops. The side effects of fentanyl use are already rather lengthy, but the lollipop has even more significant effects. The fentanyl lollipop used to be prescribed more regularly, but with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and extreme itchiness, it has been reserved for the most advanced pain cases. Also, while taking the lozenge, use must continue in order to avoid fentanyl withdrawal.
Some common symptoms include:
- Muscle and stomach cramps
- Dilated pupils
- Mood swings
Those taking the fentanyl lozenge under medical supervision will be able to eventually stop taking it over time. The process is called weaning off, and if done too quickly, the effects can be life-threatening.
The Dangers of Fentanyl Lollipops
As with any form of fentanyl, the risk of an overdose is always right around the corner. Fentanyl lollipops can cause a decrease in respiratory function, meaning that breathing can slow or even stop altogether. When breathing stops, the brain goes into hypoxia. This refers to the lack of oxygen getting to the brain, which in turn means oxygen is no longer getting to other vital organs. Signs of fentanyl overdose include:
- Bluish tinge to the skin and nails
- Gurgling or choking sounds
- Pinpoint pupils
This is one of the biggest dangers of fentanyl use. If an overdose is ever suspected, seek medical attention immediately. Always stay with the person until help arrives and be honest with what substances are in their system. This will help the medical professionals administer proper treatment.
What Do Fentanyl Lollipops Look Like?
Fentanyl itself is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so being able to identify fentanyl products can be tricky. Fentanyl lollipops come in a sealed package, and look similar to a normal candy sucker. The lozenge is on a stick to make it easier to swirl around the mouth. The stick is made of a fracture-resistant material as opposed to paper which is normally seen in candy. The lozenge itself can be white to off-white and is typically berry flavored.
Signs Of Fentanyl Addiction
Anyone taking fentanyl is at risk of developing a tolerance. This means that it takes higher amounts in order to achieve the same feelings of pain relief. Fentanyl lollipops are typically reserved for cases of extreme pain, normally associated with different cancers. Even under a doctor’s prescription, someone can still become addicted to fentanyl. Signs of fentanyl addiction can be noticeable, and if you or a loved one are experiencing the grips of fentanyl, seeking medical advice can be life-saving.
The Side Effects of Fentanyl Lollipops
As we talked about above, the main side effects of the fentanyl lollipop are nausea, vomiting, and itchiness. Respiratory depression is also a serious side effect and should always be monitored when on a fentanyl regime. It is important to dispose of the used lollipop sticks out of reach of children and pets, as even a small dose can cause life-threatening respiratory depression. Any unused lozenge should be melted in running water before disposal in the garbage.
It is important to keep an up-to-date medication list when being prescribed fentanyl lollipops. Certain depressants such as benzodiazepines and even some antidepressants can cause a reaction when mixed with fentanyl.
Getting Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction
Becoming dependent on fentanyl is never anyone’s intention, especially when following a doctor’s orders. Fentanyl works in the brain by binding to the opioid receptors, and over time those receptors become desensitized. There is no shame in asking for help, and seeking treatment is the greatest step you can take for yourself.
Here at ReVIDA® Recovery, we believe in treating our patients on the individual level. No two opioid use disorder stories are the same, and we pride ourselves in learning about you as a person first. We use medication-assisted treatment (MAT), therapy and counseling, as well as outpatient services to reclaim the lives of our patients and help them find success and lasting recovery.
Finding recovery for fentanyl addiction doesn’t have to be scary, and you are not broken for reaching out for help. Here at ReVIDA® Recovery, our goal is to remind you that you are a person first, not a problem or statistic. Call us today at 423-631-0432 to learn more about how our program can benefit you or someone you love.
What brand is a fentanyl lollipop?
The brand name of the fentanyl lollipop is Actiq® (fentanyl citrate).
What are the symptoms of fentanyl candy?
The fentanyl lozenge symptoms include nausea, vomiting, itchiness, and respiratory depression.
How do I know if my kid took fentanyl?
If your child took fentanyl, they will exhibit the same overdose signs as an adult. Pinpoint pupils, choking or gurgling sounds, and coma will be noticeable. If an overdose is ever suspected, seek medical attention immediately.