Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Smoking & Taking Chantix

Chantix (or varenicline), a prescription medicine manufactured by New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer, has been used by more than 6 million Americans to kick their smoking habit since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2006. Chantix and its predecessor, Zyban, work very differently from most nicotine-based smoking-cessation products.


Chantix is one of two FDA-approved smoking-cessation drugs that do not contain nicotine, the addictive chemical found in tobacco. Chantix blocks nicotine from being received by the brain, and the other drug, Zyban, is an antidepressant. Previous smoking-cessation products contained limited amounts of nicotine, allowing the smoker to control the amount of nicotine entering the bloodstream. If nicotine-based cessation products have not worked for you, Chantix offers a different approach. In clinical trials, 44 percent of people receiving Chantix quit smoking during the first 12 weeks---as compared with 18 percent receiving a placebo.


Chantix works by reducing the cravings for cigarettes and decreasing the pleasure cigarettes provide. The medication stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, which helps with the uncomfortable symptoms you can experience during nicotine withdrawal. However, Chantix also blocks the nicotine receptors in the brain. This way, even if you smoke while taking Chantix, your body won't experience the chemical pleasure associated with smoking---theoretically making it easier to give up tobacco.


Adults who want to quit smoking should start taking Chantix one week prior to their quit date. The dose is titrated the first week up to one milligram taken twice a day for the next 11 weeks. If you are successful in quitting during the first 12 weeks, another 12-week regimen can help ensure longer-term success.


Because of adverse patient reactions, the FDA in July 2009 issued a public health advisory regarding the use of Chantix and Zyban. The advisory reported that these medications had been associated with patient hostility, agitation, depression and thoughts of suicide. The FDA required the manufacturers to add a boxed warning to the products' labels.

Lesser side effects include skin problems such as rashes, redness and peeling skin. The most common side effects included nausea, sleep problems, constipation, gas and vomiting.


If nicotine-free Chantix does not meet your needs, there are many nicotine-based products to consider. These include nicotine gum, which is available over the counter; the nicotine patch, of which some doses are available at drugstores; and nasal sprays, which are available only through prescription. These products introduce nicotine into the body, but not the other dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.

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