How much control do you have over your mental health?

Chantix (A complete review)

Chantix, known as varenicline, is an oral drug that is used to help with stopping smoking.

Chantix (varenicline), is a non-nicotine, doctor prescribed medication that was created to help individuals quit smoking.

It was approved in the US by the FDA in May 2006.

How does Chantix work?

It competes with nicotine from cigarettes for binding to nicotine receptors in the brain.

Although varenicline stimulates nicotinic receptors like nicotine, it blocks the stronger stimulation by nicotine.

Therefore, smokers do not experience the full effect of smoking while taking varenicline.

Chantix tablets contain varenicline, which is a partial agonist that specifically targets α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes.

The drug interacts with the nicotine receptor to block nicotine molecules from interacting with them.

In short, it reduces cravings for nicotine much like nicotine replacement therapy does, but it also blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking.

Chantix comes in two types of oral medications, either a 0.5 mg or a 1 mg capsule.

How is Chantix used?

 

It is imperative to use the medication guide given to you by your specialist before you begin taking varenicline and each time you get a refill.

In the event that you have any questions, ask your primary care physician or drug specialist. 

There are various approaches to taking varenicline. One method is to mark the calendar with a day to stop smoking before starting treatment.

The medication can be commenced as directed by the doctor, from one day to around two weeks before the quit date.

A course of treatment usually lasts around 12 weeks.

One dosage approach is to take one 0.5 mg tablet once every day for three days, and the dosage is incrementally increased to one 0.5 mg tablet two times per day for four days.

The dose is gradually increased to reduce the persistence of symptoms, (for example, queasiness, bad dreams).

It is fine to smoke during this time. Smoking should then be stopped on the selected quit date.

The dose should be taken as recommended by the doctor twice every day for the remainder of the treatment time frame.

Another approach to taking varenicline is to begin taking the medication before selecting a date to stop smoking.

This would start with taking the 0.5 mg tablets and increasing the dose as directed by the doctor.

A date is selected to stop smoking from between days eight to 35 of the treatment. 

Sometimes smokers are not ready to commit to selecting a quit date, and the doctor may guide the patient to begin taking the drug while steadily decreasing smoking, with the objective of stopping before the end of the treatment.

It is advisable to follow the doctor’s directions very carefully and decrease smoking as directed. 

Nicotine addiction makes it much harder for people to quit smoking.

This medication can be issued in a dosing bundle.

In this case, it is important to very carefully follow the directions on the dosing bundle.

There are two types of dosing packs: a ‘beginning’ pack and a ‘proceeding with’ pack, each containing various quantities of the medicine.

In the event that it is issued in liquid form, again it is important to carefully follow the primary care physician’s directions on the amount to take. 

This is an oral drug, to be taken after eating, with a full glass of water.

The dose depends on each patient’s specific case and response to treatment. 

The dose should not be increased or taken more regularly than directed.

A patient’s condition will not improve any quicker, and the risk of re-experiencing symptoms will increase.

More than one milligrams, twice a day, is inadvisable. 

The drug should be taken regularly as part of a routine to get the greatest benefit from it.

It is very helpful, in order to ensure regular adherence to the program, to take it at the same time(s) every day. 

Sometimes, patients will continue smoking following two weeks of treatment.

In the case that someone is simply not ready to stop smoking following 12 weeks of treatment, the doctor will advise a continuing course of action. 

They may suggest an additional 12 weeks of treatment with varenicline.

What are the common side effects of Chantix (varenicline)?

 

Side effects of Chantix (varenicline) can include:

 

·      feeling and being sick

·      difficulty sleeping, sometimes with vivid dreams

·      dry mouth

·      constipation or diarrhea

·      headache

·      mind and mood swings like sadness, anger or thoughts of self-harm

·      drowsiness

·      breathing difficulties or skin irritations

·      dizziness.

 

What is other important information I should know about taking Chantix (varenicline)?

 

You ought not to use Chantix in the event that you have been prescribed and used it before and had: 

·      an unfavourable response such as difficulty breathing, swelling in your face (lips, tongue, throat) or neck

·      a genuine skin response with irritation in your mouth or on your skin

·      a seizure

·      kidney problems (or if you are on dialysis); 

·      heart or vein issues 

·      in the event that you regularly drink liquor. 

Chantix (varenicline) is safe for most people to take, although there are some situations when it is not recommended.

For example, it is unsuitable for:

·      children under 18 years of age

·      women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

·      people with severe kidney problems.

Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) 

found in your lungs.

Large quantities of alcohol should not be drunk while taking this medicine.

Chantix (varenicline) can increase the effects of alcohol, or change the way people react to it.

Some people have exhibited unusual or aggressive behavior, including forgetfulness, while drinking alcohol at the same time as taking this medication.

Other medicines should not be used during the medication period, unless specifically prescribed by a doctor who is fully cognizant of your medication schedule.

Driving or other hazardous activities should be avoided until it has been determined whether or not the medication affects your reaction time.

What is the Chantix (varenicline) success rate?

Six clinical trials, which included 3,659 chronic cigarette smokers, demonstrated the success Chantix has as a treatment for smoking cessation, as indicated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The trials demonstrated that Chantix was more successful than a placebo to assist individuals with stopping smoking.

In two of the five preliminary clinical trials, individuals utilizing Chantix treatment were more likely to quit smoking than those utilizing Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride) (16%) as a medication to help them quit smoking.

People using Chantix were also significantly more likely to stop smoking than those who took a placebo treatment.  

In one ongoing study, researchers investigated 1,086 individuals who quit smoking utilizing one of the accompanying three strategies: Chantix (varenicline), the nicotine replacement therapy, or the medication and nicotine replacement therapy together.

The outcomes demonstrated that the three quitting strategies were comparable in progress rates at both six months and one year.

At six months, 23% of subjects who utilized the nicotine replacement therapy remained non-smokers, contrasting with 24% of those utilizing Chantix, and 27% of subjects who utilized a combination of nicotine replacement therapy and medication.

At one year, the achievement rate was 21% for the nicotine replacement therapy, 19% for Chantix, and 20% for the combination.

 

Chantix (varenicline) drugs interaction

 A total of seven drugs are known to interact with Chantix (varenicline)

·      five moderate drug interactions

·      two minor drug interactions.

Medications known to interact with Chantix (varenicline):

·      Cimetidine

·      Dolutegravir

·      Ethanol

·      Lamotrigine

·      Nicotine

·      Ranolazine

·      Vandetanib.

Chantix (varenicline) disease interactions:

There are five disease interactions with Chantix (varenicline):

·      neuropsychiatric events

·      alcoholism

·      cardiovascular disease

·      renal impairment 

·      seizures.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Chantix (varenicline):

1.    How long does it take to start working? 

Some people need a few weeks for Chantix to work best.

Take Chantix after eating and with a full glass (eight ounces) of water.

It is recommended to take Chantix for a full 12 weeks.

2. Does Chantix make you angry?

Some people have had changes in behavior including hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using Chantix to help them quit smoking.

Some people had these symptoms when they began taking the medication, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping the medication.

3.    What happens when you stop taking Chantix?

If you, your family or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression or changes in behavior, thinking or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia or confusion, stop taking Chantix and call your doctor or health care practitioner as soon as possible.

4.    How does Chantix make you feel?

Potentially you may have the urge to smoke, a depressed mood, trouble sleeping, irritability, frustration, anger, feeling anxious, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, decreased heart rate, increased appetite and weight gain.

These are all extreme reactions and not usual. 

5.    How long do you take Chantix after you have quit smoking?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having side effects. He or she may reduce your dose.

Most people will take the medication for 12 weeks (three months).

If you have completely quit smoking by the end of 12 weeks, your healthcare provider may prescribe Chantix for a further 12 weeks to help you stay smoke-free.

6.    Is there nicotine in Chantix?

No, the medication is nicotine-free.

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like the patch, gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhalers all contain nicotine.

7.    Can you use Chantix to quit vaping?

In some cases. For people who are motivated, there are several ways to quit vaping, such as using prescription medications such as bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin or BuSpar) and Chantix (varenicline) are available for people who have difficulty quitting, even with nicotine replacement.

Want to learn more about Chantix (varenicline)? Try these books!

Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking

Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking is a self-help classic, with over 20 million copies sold worldwide. It has been a #1 bestseller in nine European countries.

It outsells all other quit smoking titles combined.

It can be really helpful to use alongside Chantix (varenicline) as an extra tool for quitting.

The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment

Journaling is a great way to give yourself a stress release on your journey to quit smoking. In addition to helping you work through this phase of your life, this journal help you focus on whether you are dealing with mental health issues, heartbreak, a problem at work, or any other life stressor.

This Mindfulness Journal can easily be added into your daily routine and can serve as an outlet for stress-reduction that will help you appreciate every single day and moment.

It includes 365 daily writing prompts divided into 52 weekly mindfulness topics.

The prompts are extremely unique, fun, and engaging, so you will never get bored while journaling.

Additionally, each prompt is on its own separate page so you will have more than enough room for reflection and to write down all of your thoughts, big or small.

Although it is suggested to journal once a day, you can spend as much or as little time as you want on each prompt. 

References:

NHS July 2019

WebMD January 2020

Was this post helpful?