Actiq (Fentanyl) Withdrawal - Withdrawal
Medically reviewed badge

Actiq (Fentanyl) Withdrawal

Actiq use can lead to physical dependence. Dependence is the result of adaptations within the body and brain. Here's what you need to know about withdrawal.

Actiq is an opioid medication available as a flavored lozenge on a plastic stick (also known as a troche) that contains fentanyl citrate. 4 This product is only approved for use by cancer patients who are already using around-the-clock opioids. 4 Physicians, however, sometimes prescribe Actiq off-label for migraines, and this drug is often sold illegally on the street. 5,6

Actiq use can lead to physical dependence. Dependence is the result of adaptations within the body and brain of those frequently exposed to a substance. Dependence often develops after repeated use of the drug and may develop more rapidly when the person takes increasingly higher doses to overcome tolerance to the drug. 7

When someone who is dependent stops taking the drug, they may experience Actiq withdrawal symptoms as their body adjusts to the absence of the drug. These withdrawal symptoms may become more pronounced if the person has taken the drug for a long period of time or has taken a high dose.

If you are going through Actiq withdrawal, there is help available. Call our toll-free hotline at 1-888-935-1318.

Actiq Withdrawal Symptoms

Actiq is a fast-acting drug that does not stay in the body for long. 6 Actiq withdrawal symptoms can appear within hours after the last dose.

The type and severity of Actiq withdrawal symptoms depend on the individual. Because some of these symptoms can severely unpleasant, you should consult a healthcare professional if you are considering stopping your use of Actiq.

Actiq withdrawal symptoms during detoxification can include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Runny nose.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.1

How Long Does Actiq Withdrawal Last?

The withdrawal timeline can last anywhere from 5 days to several weeks. 2 The duration of withdrawal depends on:

  • How much Actiq is in the person’s system.
  • The length of time the person took Actiq.
  • The person’s physiology.
  • Whether the person abused other drugs.

Withdrawing From Actiq: Treatment Methods and Options for Help

Actiq withdrawal symptoms can be alleviated and prevented.

As a component of some Actiq withdrawal treatment methods, healthcare professionals will prescribe an alternate opioid medication that is less addictive, such as methadone or buprenorphine. In other cases, healthcare staff can help you gradually taper the drug dose so that you do not experience serious Actiq withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment centers can provide a range of services to help you with the psychological and physical symptoms of Actiq withdrawal. There are a variety of available treatment options, ranging from outpatient services to comprehensive inpatient services.

Learn more about Actiq withdrawal treatment.

Detoxing, Addiction Treatment, Rehab, and Recovery

People who are addicted to Actiq often require further treatment beyond detox. Signs and symptoms of addiction to Actiq or other opioids include:

  • Using Actiq in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
  • Cravings.
  • Tolerance.
  • Using Actiq instead of taking care of responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Spending a lot of time using Actiq, obtaining it, and recovering from its effects. 2

Simply going through detox will not treat the underlying addiction, and the person is likely to relapse. People with a substance abuse problem need to work with an addiction counselor, therapist, or psychologist to understand the reasons they became addicted. Many people also benefit from the support of 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous.

Types of addiction treatment include:

  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Outpatient rehab.
  • One-on-one and group therapy.
  • 12-step programs and support groups.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

Some believe that cleansing the body with water and a healthy diet can relieve Actiq detoxification and withdrawal syndrome. However, the safest method for detox is to seek medical help.

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Actiq?

The length of withdrawal depends on how long a person has been using Actiq. The average withdrawal timeline is roughly 5 to 7 days; however, symptoms can continue weeks after a person’s last dose. 2


Actiq Information at a Glance
Medication Name, Costs Class of Medicine
Generic Name: Fentanyl citrate
Brand Name: Actiq
Brand Name Variations: Abstral, Duragesic, Sublimaze
Cost/Price: Between $1 and $200 4
Function or use: treatment of breakthrough cancer pain in patients 16 years or older who are already tolerant to around-the-clock opioid therapy. 1
System: opioid analgesic
Duration of Action: 2 to 3 hours 2
Form, Intake, and Dose Interactions and Complications
Drug Forms: Lozenge
Administration Routes: Oral
Available doses: 200 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg, 800 mcg, 1200 mcg, 1600 mcg 1
Overdose symptoms: respiratory depression, drowsiness, stupor, coma, clammy skin, constricted pupils, death 1,5
Alcohol Interaction: increased depressant effects (e.g., heightened risk of respiratory depression) 5
Prescription Medications: increased depressant effects with other CNS depressants, sedatives, and tranquilizers 5
Contraindications: patients who are not opioid-tolerant or have severe breathing problems, slow heartbeat, seizures, kidney or liver problems, low blood pressure, drowsiness, history of drug or alcohol abuse, diabetes, or acute or post-operative pain 1
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
Short-Term: respiratory depression, circulatory depression, hypotension, shock, headache, dizziness, asthenia, confusion 3
Long-Term: Dependence, depression
Risk of Substance Abuse: High
Signs of Abuse: drowsiness, slurred speech, impaired memory and attention 6
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: 6-12 hours after last dose 6
Withdrawal Symptoms: depression, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, runny nose, watery eyes, pupil dilation, goosebumps, sweating, yawning, fever, insomnia 6
Physical Dependence: High risk
Psychological Dependence: High risk
Legal Schedules and Ratings
Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule II 3


[1]. Herron, A. and Brennan, T.K. (2015). The ASAM Essentials of Addiction Medicine: Second Edition. Wolters Kluwer.

[2]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

[3]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Fentanyl.

[4]. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc. Actiq Medication Guide.

[5]. Landy, S. (2004). Oral Transmucosal Fentanyl Citrate for the Treatment of Migraine Pain in Outpatients: A Case Series. Headache 44(8).

[6]. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2015). Fentanyl.

[7]. Kosten, T., and George. T. (2002). The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Science and Practice Perspectives 1(1):13-20.

Actiq Information at a Glance Sources

[1]. Food and Drug Administration. (2011). ACTIQ TIRF REMS Prescribing Information with MG.

[2]. University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, Madison, WI. (2009). Oral Transmucosal Fentanyl Citrate-OTFC (ACTIQ).

[3]. ACTIQ ACT-011 Prescribing Information. (2011). Highlights of Prescribing Information.

[4]. Drug Bank. (2016). Fentanyl.

[5]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Actiq – Fentanyl citrate lozenge.

[6]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.