What is Zyban&Reg;?

M.R. Anglin

Zyban® is a purple, anti-smoking prescription pill that is manufactured by the GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company. It is different from many other anti-smoking drugs because it does not contain nicotine. The drug helps to reduce smoking cravings, which in turn may give smokers the edge they need to quit. It also helps reduce withdrawal symptoms, which can help keep smokers abstinent. Like most medications, Zyban® may also have mild to severe side effects that should be watched for.

Zyban® may help with quitting cigarettes.
Zyban® may help with quitting cigarettes.

Many people want to quit smoking, but have trouble doing so. Zyban® can help by reducing a person’s desire to smoke. The drug is often sold in pill form and is usually taken two times a day. The smoker usually starts the drug regimen with a plan to quit on a certain day. While he does not have to stop smoking when he starts the regimen, it is hoped that the reduced desire to smoke will help him put down the cigarettes by the desired quit date.

A chronic smoker can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when he quits.
A chronic smoker can experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms when he quits.

Even with the drug, quitting may be difficult. Though Zyban® helps to reduce the desire to smoke, it does not help with the psychological issues that smokers deal with. For example, if a person usually smokes when he has a drink, he may find it hard not to smoke when he is drinking. For this reason, a smoker may need to undergo counseling or employ other smoking cessation methods in addition to the medication in order to successfully quit smoking.

While Zyban® may be effective in helping a person stop smoking, it does carry side effects. Some common side effects are dry mouth and having trouble sleeping. The medication that makes Zyban® effective is bupropin, an antidepressant. In fact, bupropin is also found in another antidepressant drug made by the same manufacturer. Since it contains an antidepressant drug, Zyban® can carry the same risks, including thoughts of suicide, as other antidepressants.

It has been reported that people taking the drug have had suicidal thoughts or may plan to harm themselves or others. Depression and mood swings are also possible side effects. Quitting smoking itself may bring about depression, so it can be unclear if these symptoms are caused by quitting itself or by Zyban® directly. Hallucinations, behaving violently, and seizures have also been reported.

There are some people who should be wary of taking Zyban® or should not take it at all. Since bupropin can seep into breast milk, a nursing mother should not take the drug. If a person is taking other medications, including over-the-counter or herbal medicines, a doctor should be advised because of the possibility for drug interactions. The drug’s effect on a developing baby is not known. Any woman wanting to get pregnant or who is pregnant, therefore, should advise her doctor so he can make a more informed decision about whether to prescribe the drug.

People who usually smoke and drink simultaneously may struggle to quit one and not the other.
People who usually smoke and drink simultaneously may struggle to quit one and not the other.

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