This “cure” is becoming increasingly more popular due to its alleged benefits, but it does have a fair share of side effects. Is Chantix really worth using, and can it help you quit your bad habits?
A Closer Look
Chantix is a prescription medication that works in two different ways: it replicates the effects of nicotine in a person’s brain, but also prevents any interaction between the actual nicotine and the human organism. Essentially, it blocks off the euphoria associated with nicotine consumption, which translates into reduced cravings.
When you smoke or vape, nicotine comes into contact with its corresponding receptors. Once these receptors are activated, they affect breathing, heart rate, overall brain chemistry, and even mood – which is where the feeling of joy comes from. Still, Chantix isn’t a replacement for nicotine like patches and lozenges are.
A study conducted in 2016 separated almost 2000 participants who smoked into three groups. The first group was subjected to a 12-week Chantix treatment, the second group to a bupropion treatment (another type of nicotine addiction medicine), while the third group took a placebo. 44% of the participants who took Chantix stopped smoking within those 12 weeks, compared to 30% in the bupropion group and 18% in the placebo group.
One year after the study, participants were questioned about their smoking habits. 23% of the people who underwent Chantix treatment remained abstinent from smoking, compared to 15% and 8% for bupropion and placebo groups, respectively.
Further research showed that prolonging the treatment for an additional 12 weeks can significantly reduce the chances of relapse and nicotine cravings. This establishes Chantix as the most effective medicine, far above bupropion.
Setting a Date
Unsurprisingly, studies show that users who took higher dosages had the best quit rates. Although it might be tempting to start with the highest possible intake, this can be dangerous when you’re unsure of the effect that it might have on your overall state. The dosage will differ among individuals in accordance with their age and their initial reaction to it.
Chantix use is not recommended to people under the age of 18. Most of the treatments start with lower doses in the first couple of days – around 0.5mg a day. From there, the dosage gets increasingly higher up to 1mg twice a day. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and not take any more medicine than prescribed. This can only worsen the side effects and ultimately harm your progress.
To get the biggest benefit, try to consume Chantix around the same time each day. It works best when taken after a meal with plenty of water. The treatment process usually lasts for 12 weeks. Even if you do manage to quit in that time frame, your doctor might prescribe you an additional 12 weeks to help keep you off of smoking.
Unfortunately, Chantix carries some very serious potential adverse effects with it, which is why some experts discourage its use. These are mostly related to overall mental health, but it can also have a big impact on a person’s physical condition.
A testament to these effects is a black box warning which the FDA organization had to introduce to this cure after a large number of users issued complaints. This warning notifies potential consumers about possible neuropsychiatric events such as depression, suicidal thoughts and a number of other mental health problems.
A recent study showed a significant connection in the cases of self-harm and depression, with more than 90% of them being linked to Chantix use. This is what caused many medical professionals to recommend this type of treatment only as of the ultimate last resort. The risk of mental health problems might be increased by consuming alcohol during treatment, as well as going through withdrawal symptoms.
Other problems include an increased risk of a heart attack or a stroke, seizures, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc. They are a lot less prominent, but you should take any symptoms seriously and immediately notify your doctor about them. This might prompt a lower dosage, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In case you happen to miss a dose, never take the double amount on your next one. If you notice it early, it’s safe to take it then, but make sure that you do it as soon as possible.
Interactions with Other Drugs & Previous Health Problems
As far as disease interactions are concerned, there are a couple of highly significant ones. If you already have existing mental health issues, risks far outweigh the benefits, and you should avoid Chantix altogether. Other possible interactions include alcoholism, renal impairment, and seizures.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Quit Smoking Programs
Deciding to stop with your bad habits is half the job done. Whether you choose Chantix, bupropion, or any other method, the most crucial thing is being persistent and not giving up. A lot of people have managed to quit before you, which is why you can do it too. Before using any medication, make sure to consult a medical professional.
Should You Try It?
This is a tough question to answer since it all depends on the individual. You won’t find any other medicine with a better success rate, but this also goes for the number of side effects that it may cause. Thoughts of medical professionals are conflicted – some claim that the chances of severe impacts far outweigh the potential benefits, while others say that the dangers are blown out of proportion. Which side is right remains to be seen, as there aren’t enough studies to draw a definite conclusion.
If you’ve been smoking for a long time and no other options worked for you, the chances are that Chantix is going to be your saving grace. Keep in mind that successful treatment still isn’t guaranteed – its success rate is less than 20% over one year. Using Chantix alongside nicotine patches and having a positive, determined mindset could boost your chances of success. Still, there are other options which might be a better choice for you.