Chantix® is a prescription medication known by the generic name varenicline. It is prescribed to treat smokers who want to quit and is designed to be used with other counseling methods like support groups or individual counseling. Those who can safely take Chantix® have slightly over 20% likelihood of remaining free from nicotine use after a year. This percentage is higher than other stop smoking aids, and represents real possibility of quitting for motivated participants.
The way Chantix® may work is by acting on the body’s handling of nicotine. It both dulls craving for nicotine and reduces the amount of pleasure people get from it. The average smoker who has a cigarette is rewarded with production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Varenicline inhibits this action partially, resulting in less dopamine production and essentially less satisfaction when nicotine enters the body. Over time, this reduced pleasure factor alone may make smoking less attractive, though people definitely require additional support to abstain and continue to abstain.
Such a medication would seem ideal, but there are risk factors of taking Chantix® that need to be considered, and many studies suggesting certain people should not take it. First, commonly people can have side effects like nausea or vomiting, headaches, vivid dreaming, and stomachache. Like many medications that work on neurotransmitters, varenicline also bears the quite serious risk of causing suicidality. To this end, people taking this medication, need to watch for symptoms of wanting to die, hopelessness, and others, and pursuing a stop smoking program at the same time, which can be emotionally challenging, might exacerbate these symptoms.
Suicidality is not the only potential problem with Chantix® use in some groups. People with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may be at risk for strong mood shifts as a result of taking this medication. There are presently studies to estimate height of this risk but the medical literature continues to produce a stream of reports on mania or hypomania as caused by varenicline. Use of this medication in the presence of mental illness should be weighed extremely carefully, and undertaken only with the support of a psychiatrist.
Many people will not have a negative reaction to Chantix®. A few people may develop rashes and some have allergies, which might be expressed as a rash, swelling of the face and lips/tongue and difficulty breathing. This should be considered medically urgent and people should get medical attention immediately.
Quitting smoking is extremely difficult for most people. Chantix® presently seems the treatment most likely to help in this process. It is not for all people and it is important to follow guidelines for getting appropriate support while on this medication. This will help increase likelihood of success and be of use in quickly catching any adverse reactions to varenicline.