Chantix (varenicline) is one of the most popular medications used in the treatment of nicotine addiction. This FDA-approved medication can only be administered according to a healthcare provider’s prescription. Chantix is a quit-smoking aid, which works by reducing the urge to smoke thus helping you quit the habit. Needless to say, everyone who is trying to fight nicotine addiction has a different road to quitting. Chantix gives you a quit-smoking approach that works best for you.With this medication, you don’t have to kick the habit right away.
Chantix is a nicotine-free pill whose effectiveness depends on the quit approach that you practitioner will choose. Generally, it takes between 12 to 24 weeks for patients to experience desirable outcomes when using the drug. To understand how this works you need to know the effect that nicotine from cigarettes has on you. Whenever you smoke, your brain receives nicotine via its nicotine receptors. A chemical known as dopamine is consequently released, thus giving you a feel-good sensation. As soon as dopamine levels drop, you will have the urge to smoke another cigarette so that you get stimulated once more.
Just like nicotine, Chantix attaches itself to your brain’s nicotine receptors thus preventing nicotine from doing the same. When under Chantix medication, dopamine will still be released but nonetheless, it will be in lower proportions than when nicotine is in your system. Consequently, the urge to smoke will dissipate with time and go away altogether by the time Chantix treatment comes to an end. It is expected that you will quit smoking within a few months of embarking on Chantix treatment. Therefore, the risk of prolonged use and addiction is minimal.
When Chantix gets introduced to your brain, it targets alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptors. It docks itself on these receptors thus triggering the release of dopamine the same way nicotine does though not in significant quantities. For ex-smokers, the effect that Chantix has is equal to a medium or low dose of nicotine. This lasts until the effects of the drug wears off, which is typically several hours.
This way, Chantix relieves the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, which many smokers experience when they try quitting the habit. Since dopamine docks itself on the brain’s receptor sites in a way that nicotine doesn’t, smoking will not give you its usual “feel-good’ factor while you have Chantix within your system. Smoking will actually be a dull experience, something that makes it even easier for you to quit. This could perhaps explain why Chantix treatment is more effective than other quit smoking methods including the use of nicotine patches and lozenges.
Many people confuse Chantix with other quit smoking medications in the market. This is a false assumption considering the fact that Chantix is a nicotine-free medication. On the other hand, nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as nicotine patches, lozenges, nasal sprays, inhalers, and gum all contain significant quantities of nicotine. Before you even embark on Chantix treatment, discuss with your healthcare provider so that you decide on the smoking cessation method that will be ultimately suitable for you.
Chantix Quit-Smoking Approaches
Chantix has approaches to quit smoking. Therefore, you need to talk to your physician about what your quitting goals are. This will help you settle for the quit smoking approach that works best for you. When you are trying to quit this habit, you have to keep in mind the fact that it is a personal experience. Everything ultimately boils down to when and how you will be willing to kick the habit. Regardless of the approach that you will choose, it is recommended that you take this medication as recommended by your physician.
The fixed quit approach when using Chantix may be right if you want to quit smoking as soon as possible. With this approach, you can kick the habit in a short span of one week or even less. When you choose this approach, it is recommended that you take Chantix for twelve weeks. You can keep smoking during the first week as you prepare to quit the habit. Studies indicate that a whopping 44% of smokers who take Chantix using this approach quit smoking completely after 9 to 12 weeks.
The flexible quit approach when using Chantix can help you quit smoking within one month. This approach is recommended for individuals who wish to quit smoking yet still want a little flexibility when it comes to choosing the exact time that they will completelyquit.
When you use this approach, you must start by embarking on Chantix medication before picking a quit date. This must be within one month from the day you embarked on Chantix medication. With the flexible quit approach, you are supposed to take Chantix for up to 12 weeks. A study meant to assess the effectiveness of the flexible quit approach established that 54 percent of smokers who take Chantix quit smoking between weeks 9 and 12.
The gradual quit approach works best for individuals who are sure that they want to quit smoking but are not able or willing to stop immediately. When using this approach, you are required to start taking Chantix before you gradually reduce your smoking habit. After you embark on Chantix treatment, reduce your smoking habit by half during the first month of treatment before cutting it again by half during the next one month. Keep reducing so that by the time 12 weeks ends, you would have quit smoking altogether.
The gradual quit approach can take up to 24 weeks to give the desired outcome. A study tailored to evaluate the effectiveness of the gradual quit approach established that 32 percent of smokers who use it quit the habits at between weeks 15 and 24.
How to Take Chantix and What to Expect
Chantix is a 3 or 6-month treatment, which is most effective when taken as per a physician’s direction. To enhance the chances of success when using the medication, this includes ensuring that you only take the medication after eating, and with a full glass of water. When you embark on the Chantix treatment, you must start gradually so that you give your body time to adjust to the medication.
During the first three days, take one white Chantix pill (0.5mg) per day. The dosage should be increased between day four and seven whereby you are required to take one while Chantix pill (0.5mg) in the morning and another one in the evening. From the eight day until the end of treatment the dosage should be increased further to 1 blue Chantix pill (1 mg) in the morning and 1 mg in the evening. This dosing schedule doesn’t work for everyone. Therefore, you should consult your physician who will determine the right dosing schedule for you. Dosage is generally based on your response to treatment and your health condition.
You are also allowed to keep smoking until your quit date, which you will choose yourself after considering the three quit approaches. Most patients take Chantix for 3 months. If you quit smoking at the end of this period, your physician may prescribe another 12-week dose to prevent you from relapsing. If your healthcare provider determines that the gradual quit approach is the most suitable for you, you will undergo Chantix treatment for 24 weeks in total.
In case you miss a dose, you should take it the moment you remember. If this time is close to the time that you are supposed to take your next dose, you are advised to skip the missed dose so that you just take the next nose at the regular time. You should try quitting as your quit date approaches with the objective of quitting altogether on that date. Do not stress yourself out if you find yourself smoking after the quit date. This doesn’t mean that you have failed in your quest to quit smoking. Keep in mind that you will always be work in progress until you stop smoking completely.
How Effective is Chantix?
Studies have shown that using Chantix medication to quit smoking is more effective than other known therapies. Six clinical trials used to gauge the effectiveness of Chantix as an intervention for smoking cessation. The trials also indicated that Chantix was particularly more effective that a placebo when it comes to helping smokers. In two of the five clinical trials, patients using Chantix therapy (22 percent) were more successful at kicking the habit than those who use Zyban (16 percent) as their preferred quit smoking aid. For individuals taking a placebo, abstaining from smoking completely at the one-year mark is approximately 8 percent.
Another study established researchers looked at 1086 individuals who quit the habit using Chantix, nicotine patches, and nicotine lozenges. Study showed that in as much as the three quit smoking methods have a similar success rate at 6 months and one year, Chantix treatment was more effective after one year. Research has also shown that Chantix is more effective when used in combination with other interventions such as nicotine patches.
Chantix Black Box Warnings
Chantix has a black box warning from the FDA owing to the devastating side effects that t has on patients. You shouldn’t take this medication if you are allergic to vareniclines or any ingredients used in Chantix. Besides this, you should not start using Chantix if you are already using nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, inhalers, gum, or lozenges. In this regard, you must first consult your physician before embarking on Chantix treatment.
Before you start Chantix medication it is also advisable that you notify your physician about any health conditions that you might be having including heart ailments. If you are taking other medications, you should also tell your doctor since Chantix can affect the effectiveness of these drugs and vice versa. Likewise, you shouldn’t start taking other medications once you have embarked on Chantix treatment. In addition, your healthcare provider must be notified about past health conditions that you have suffered including high blood pressure, seizures, liver problems, and diabetes.
Before taking Chantix, you should mention to your doctor whether you are using anticoagulants such as blood thinners so that your dosage can be changed accordingly. You also need to notify the healthcare provider if you have ever experienced withdrawal symptoms after attempting to quit smoking in the fast. This will help him determine the best quitting approach to use and the right dosage to prescribe.
Sometimes, pregnant women who have a smoking habit may want to quit in an effort to safeguard the health of their unborn babies. Chantix medication may look like a desirable option to quit smoking but nevertheless, it may have adverse side effects on an unborn kid. Lactating mothers who wish to quit smoking by using Chantix medication should only do so after consulting a physician.
Chantix generally works effectively if you avoid habits such as alcohol consumption. Varenicline can increase the effect of alcohol on the body. For optimal results, it is also advisable to undergo counseling after embarking on Chantix treatment. This will help you avoid setting unrealistic expectations as you embark on the journey to quit smoking.
Chantix Side Effects
Chantix medication can lead to a number of side effects especially when it is not taken in the recommended dose. These side effects can either be physical or behavioral. The most commonly reported side effects of Chantix include nausea, insomnia, abnormal dreams, sleep disorder, constipation, dyspepsia, vomiting, flatulence, sleep disorder.
The less common side effects of using Chantix treatment include labored breathing, hyperventilation, and tightness in the chest. Rare side effects include anger, anxiety, feeling empty or sad, feeling panicky, irritability, loss of interest, mood swings, bloated or full feeling, difficulties having bowel movement, dry mouth, excess gas in the intestines and stomach, unusual tiredness, sleep walking, and suicidal thoughts. In rare cases, patients have reported chills, coughs, ear congestion, heartburn, fever, increased appetite, and ingestion. Most of these side effects are mild, and do not warrant medical attention unless in extreme cases.
In some cases, patients may develop serious allergic reactions especially to the skin. Common signs of allergic reactions caused by Chantix medication include severe rash, swollen face, skin color change, and hives. Other allergic reactions include difficulty breathing and swollen throat. Should any of these allergic reactions occur after you embark on Chantix medication, you should notify your physician immediately for medical attention.
Mood or Behavioral Changes
Some patients who are undergoing Chantix medication tend to exhibit erratic or aggressive behavior, depressed mood, agitation, or thoughts of harming others or even themselves. You may not know that you are exhibiting some of these behavioral disorders. In this case, you should ask your family members or friends to observe any changes so that they notify you of the same. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t stop medication. Instead, contact your physician immediately so that appropriate intervention is undertaken.
Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Varenicline, which is the active ingredient in Chantix, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease among patients. It also increases the risk of other related conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. This is why you should discuss with your physician about whether you have any of this condition before treatment commences. If you experience new or worse cardiovascular-related symptoms such as shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or incessant chest pains, you should notify your doctor so that immediate action can be taken.
If you have diabetes and you decide to quit smoking, you are likely to experience changes in your blood sugar levels. This often results from the removal of nicotine from the body. In case you have diabetes and you intend to quit smoking, you should discuss with your healthcare provider how your condition will affect the effectiveness of the medication and dosage. Besides this, the two of you should discuss whether special monitoring will be needed to manage your situation since ultimately;you may need to frequently monitor your blood sugar level.
Chantix medication can affect your mental and physical ability. Patients who use sometimes experience drowsiness or reduced alertness. This can affect your ability to operate or even operate machinery. The decreased ability to concentrate may make it difficult for you to undertake tasks that were hitherto simple. Therefore, you should avoid driving, operating machines, or even performing other hazardous tasks until you establish that your body can handle the side effects of Chantix medication.
If you have kidney disease or conditions such as reduced kidney function, you should also notify your doctor before accepting Chantix prescription. Such conditions limit your body’s capacity to expel wastes, something that can lead to the buildup of varenicline in the kidneys. You should find out how your condition will affect dosage, and also how the medication will impact on the pre-existing condition. It is also good to find out from your doctor whether the condition will warrant special monitoring. Generally, a lower dose may be needed if you have any kidney condition to minimize detrimental side effects from the medication.
Mental Health Problems
In case you have major mental health conditions or a history of mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia, you should discuss with your doctor how your medical condition will affect dosage and ultimately, the effectiveness of the medication. You are likely to experience a change in mood among other behavioral changes. These are expected but you should notify your doctor if they worsen.
There have been several cases where patients experience seizures after starting Chantix medication. These cases involve both individuals who have a history of seizure disorders and those who don’t. Those who have a history of seizure disorders often experience worse symptoms after embarking on Chantix medication. Those who do not have a history of seizures typically experience mild symptoms.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects of Chantix
Nausea is the most common gastrointestinal side effect of Chanix treatment. It affects up to 30% of patients. Up to 10% of patients who undergo Chantix treatment experience abdominal pain, constipation, toothache, diarrhea, and GI reflux disease. Uncommon gastrointestinal side effects of Chantix treatment include hematochezia, eructation, gastritis, gingival pain, esophagitis, GI hemorrhage, enterocolitis, dysphagia, and mouth ulceration. These side effects only occur in 1% of patients.
Psychiatric Side Effects
Abnormal dreams and insomnia are the most common psychiatric side effects among those who are undergoing Chantix treatment. More than 10% of patients experience these side effects. Sleep disorder and nightmares are common psychiatric side effects, but they only affect 8% of patients. Uncommon psychiatric side effects of the medication include panic reaction, restlessness, depression, anxiety, increased/decreased libido, aggression, irritability, disassociation, and disorientation. Rare side effects reported among patients include manic episodes, bradyphrenia, and dysphonia.
Nervous System Side Effects
Incessant headache is the commonest nervous system side effect of Chantix medication since it affects up to 19% of patients. Common nervous system side effects that affect up to 10% of patients include dysguesia, dizziness, and somnolence. Uncommon nervous system side effects include tremor, seizure, amnesia, psychomotor hyperactivity, balance disorder, facial palsy, convulsion, and restless legs syndrome.
Respiratory Side Effects
The most common respiratory side effect of varenicline is nasopharyngitis, which affects more than 10% of patients undergoing Chantix treatment. Other common side effects include coughing, dyspnea, sinusitis, and bronchitis. Rare respiratory system side effects include upper respiratory tract inflammation, rhinitis allergy, throat irritation, upper-airway cough syndrome, asthma, hoarseness, postnatal drip, pleurisy, and respiratory tract congestion. In rare cases, patients experience increased snoring and laryngeal pain.
Hematologic Side Effects
These side effects are rare. When they occur, they typically manifest themselves in the form of anemia, reduction in blood calcium levels, lymphadenopathy, reduced platelet count, and thrombocytopenia.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
Chest pain after embarking on Chantix medication is the most common cardiovascular side effect of the treatment. Uncommon side effects may include angina pectoris, increased heart rate, chest discomfort, and hot flush. In rare cases, patients report atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, acute coronary syndrome, and electrocardiogram ST segment depression.
Finding Help for a Chantix Lawsuit Near You
The Food and Drug Administration requires classifies Chantix among drugs whose manufacturers must provide a black box warning to whoever will buy them besides being provided with information pertaining to possible side effects of the medication.
In the event that you experience severe side effects after undergoing Chantix treatment, you are allowed to file a prescription medication litigation. For information about such lawsuits and legal help when you file such lawsuits, get in touch with Consumer Alert Now via (800) 511-0747. We can connect you with premier firm that serves clients throughout the U.S.