Champix – or Varenicline – is a prescription-only medicine that helps adults stop smoking. Champix is based on a plant extract found in a variety of plants. It can also assist in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms that happen when you decide to stop smoking. Champix doesn’t contain nicotine and isn’t addictive.
Champix works by reducing the cravings and 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.
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.