Chantix (varenicline) is a tablet medication designed to help people quit smoking. Varenicline works by blocking the effects of nicotine on your brain which makes you want to smoke. Working alongside support for behaviour changes and counselling, this nicotine-free medication should reduce the urge to smoke.
Before you take Chantix, you will typically get to choose between three ways of using this medication.
The first method might involve setting a date to stop smoking and starting Chantix a week before that date. You’d have to make sure you actually stopped smoking on that date and take Chantix for 12 weeks total.
In contrast, the second method might involve taking the medication before you have a set date for quitting smoking. But eventually, you’d need to choose a quitting date between eight and 35 days after treatment. You would still take Chantix for a total of 12 weeks.
The final method might involve taking Chantix first and then reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke over 12 weeks. Once that number dwindles to zero, you’ll take the medication for another 12 weeks.
Once you’ve chosen your method and started treatment, your doctor will usually prescribe you a low Chantix dosage. And over several days, that dosage will likely increase.
You should take your dosage with a full glass of water right after eating.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist:
You should also know:
Sometimes there can be unintentional Chantix side effects.
Serious ones include seizures, suicidal thoughts, strange dreams, sleepwalking, sleeping difficulties, new or worsening mental health problems, heart attack symptoms, and stroke symptoms. If you experience any of these, stop taking Chantix immediately and call your doctor.
The same goes for if you experience signs of an allergic reaction to the medication like hives, breathing difficulties, facial swelling, or a severe skin reaction.
Other more common and less urgent side effects you might experience include nausea and constipation.
Will this medication completely eliminate withdrawal symptoms?
While Chantix is meant to minimize smoking urges, it is not likely to eliminate them entirely. Instead, once you stop smoking, you’re still likely to have some nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These can include a bigger appetite, weight gain, sleeping difficulties, a slow heart rate, anxiety, restlessness, and the urge to smoke.
Is Chantix likely to react poorly to anything else I take?
In some cases, yes. So you’ll want to be careful about what you consume or do while on Chantix. For instance, you should avoid drinking copious amounts of alcohol as Chantix can increase the effects of alcohol or change how you react. And for some people, drinking alcohol while on Chantix can even cause unusual or aggressive behavior or forgetfulness. Chantix can also cause unpleasant side effects in those already taking other smoking medications like nicotine patches. Because Chantix is capable of such effects, you should avoid driving or doing other hazardous activities until you have a better idea of how the medication will affect you.
How old do I have to be to take this medication?
Currently, Chantix is only approved for use to those who are 18 years or older.