Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chantix

Took my first pill today on the road to quitting smoking. I've been reading all kinds of material on the web the last few days on the dangers of Chantix and they just have to make me laugh. Everyone talks about the grave dangers of the drug yet ignore the dangers of continuing to smoke. Whatever dangers might be involved with Chantix they have to pale by comparison to smoking.

I'm a 54 year old guy, overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol (the last 2 controlled by medication). That means smoking is just about the most dangerous thing in the world for me. But let's look at what they say:

Nausea occurs commonly in people taking varenicline. Other less common side effects include headache, difficulty sleeping, and abnormal dreams. Rare side effects reported by people taking varenicline compared to placebo include change in taste, vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence, and constipation. In November 2007, the FDA announced it had received post-marketing reports that patients using Chantix for smoking cessation had experienced several serious symptoms, including suicidal ideation and occasional suicidal behavior, erratic behavior, and drowsiness. On February 1, 2008 the FDA issued an Alert to further clarify its findings, noting that "it appears increasingly likely that there is an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms."

I get ALL those symptoms and more when I quit cold turkey. They have no way of telling if these problems are reactions to Chantix or to quitting cigarettes. Should I just not stop? That's the MOST dangerous path. Frankly, I expect all my withdrawal syptoms will be less with Chantix than without it. The way it works seems ideal, it attaches to the nicotine receptors in the brain and releases a steady flow of dopamine. Each cigarette produces a burst of dopamine which is what is thought to make it so addictive. The burst does not last long and pretty soon we crave another cigarette. With Chantix attaching to the nicotene receptor and releasing a steady flow of dopamine it tricks the brain into thinking it already had a cigarette and the desire for one is gone. It's said that smoking a cigarette tastes like smoking a carrot. Sounds like just what I need!

Here is a blog By Suzanne Danforth:

I have mentioned here before that the pill has visited me with some strange effects. In detail, I can tell you that my Chantix odyssey has been a burst in creativity, sleeplessness and the kind of energy that is just shy of scary.

Sounds good to me! Hell, that's why I drink a lot of coffee! My main concern is nausea, I think that's what I'd be most susceptible to, but that kind of symptom usually goes away in a few days. From what I've read the real problem is getting off Chantix, that the withdrawal symptoms that you didn't feel before hit in spades when you go off the drug. But being forewarned I can gradually reduce my dosage. I'll blog occasionally on how it's going.

6 comments:

Village Green said...

Hey, good luck! Keep resisting those cigs and you will soon feel better all over.

KevinBBG said...

My quit date isn't until next Sunday, supposed to build up to a full dose slowly. So far I've only taken .5 mg in the morning and don't feel anything yet. Tomorrow I add another .5 mg in the evening for 4 more days then hit the full dose of 1 mg twice a day. So I don't know yet if it will do anything.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I wish you all the luck in the world. I have been taking Chantix for 10 weeks and so has my husband. A LOT of bad things have been happening since we started it. I now have done hours of research and would not recommend this drug to anyone. I fully understand smoking is bad for you, but I also fully understand that Chantix causes, suicide, murder, heart attacks, seizures, attacks on loved ones, fainting, dizziness... and many more. PLEASE PLEASE do more research before continuing. Their studies can't even tell you if it is dangerous to take with the other medications you are taking.

Bob said...

I smoke almost 3 packs a day before trying Chantix. My doctor also prescribed an antidepressant while I was taking this. I was also very sick with bronchitis and and pharyngitis, caused by smoking so much I'm sure. The first 3 days I slept almost straight through, no way of knowing if it was Chantix or being sick or just both. After the 3rd day cigarettes tasted horrible, I made sure to keep smoking as much as I was used to so I would remember how awful they are during the first week. By the 2nd week it was no problem stopping, I was more than ready to quit. I experienced homicidal dreams that were very vivid, and sometimes after waking up, it took a few minutes to realize they were just dreams. The first month was pretty easy, I couldn't believe just how easy it was to quit, I had tried everything else on the market before and nothing else even came close. Pretty soon though I began craving the pill, I knew when it was time to take another. I think you get addicted to it, but hey I'd much rather be addicted to Chantix than smoking.
I was on this for 6 months. Not once did suicidal thought occur. I never became angry or violet like some of the stories I've read online. Maybe they were screwed up in the head before Chantix, or maybe the antidepressant I took helped.

I am now smoke-free and have absolutely no desire to ever smoke again, I can't even stand to be in the same room with a smoker. Funny huh? You'll be so surprised how awful cigarette smoke smells, how much more energy you gain from quitting, I can now jog around half the track without running out of breath, before I quit smoking, walking to the mailbox left me breathless. I recommend Chantix to everyone i know, I also tell them to take an antidepressant though. If I can quit, smoking as much as I did, than anyone can.

One more thing, if you have a hard time and cheat keep taking your Chantix. I did this once. When you do cheat, it won't matter if you smoke a pack a cigarettes, as long as the Chantix remains in your system it is blocking it from doing any good(bad), the nicotine is being blocked. Once I realized this, it was easy to just throw them away. Also when you cheat expect to experience intense nausea. It will make you sick. But that is good right? Makes it easier to quit. Best of luck to ya. There are forums on the net that provide feedback from other people currently taking Chantix.

Bob
Ex-smoker for life

KevinBBG said...

Hi Bob: Thanks for your comments. I've been on it about 4 or 5 weeks now and although it cuts the desire it does not get rid of it for me. For a couple of weeks I was smoking at work but not at home, which meant about 10 cigarettes a day instead of the 30 I normally smoke and nothing on the weekend.

But I wouldn't have been doing even that if I didn't have pneumonia. My lungs were in really bad shape and that helped keep me off them.

Which doesn't mean Chantix does nothing, I've been this sick many times and kept smoking.

But now I've badly pulled a muscle in my ribs so it's hard to breathe and my lungs aren't 100%, so that has me off the smokes completely since last Friday. But I'm not sure I would have done it with the Chantix alone. But actually it's a good thing I was on the Chantix when I got the pneumonia so I was able to cut back when I needed to or I would have been even sicker than I was.

Joseph M. Gryskiewicz said...

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