Champix – or Varenicline – is a prescription-only medicine that helps adults stop smoking. It can also assist in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms that happen when you decide to stop smoking.
Champix works by reducing the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking and blocking the effects of nicotine – which gives you a sense of pleasure when activated. When you smoke, the nicotine you inhale attaches to these receptors, sending a message to a different part of your brain to release a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a feeling of pleasure.
However, when nicotine is taken away, it signals part of your brain to go into craving mood, and your body will shake and your brain will demand more nicotine.
About two out of three smokers want to stop smoking – but many fail to succeed. This is because nicotine addiction is extremely strong and very hard to break. This is where Varenicline can help.
As with many drugs, Champix doesn’t come without any problems. Side effects tend to be mild and usually appear in the first week of taking the medicine. They include:
There have also been reports of heart attack and strokes in some people taking Champix – these can also be caused by smoking. Consult your doctor if you suffer from any of these conditions.
A 12-week Champix prescription involves taking tablets once per day for the first three days and then twice a day until the end of week 12, every morning and evening. Champix should be taken after eating with a full glass (eight ounces) of water.
If you successfully stop smoking after 12 weeks, treatment is often stopped. However, in some cases, 12 weeks of treatment could be advised. In such cases, a tapering off of the dose over a week or so could help. This is because otherwise there could be an increase in irritability, an urge to smoke, depression and/or insomnia. If you haven’t succeeded after 12 weeks, there is little point in continuing with the medication.
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