Tobacco use is still the most preventable cause of death, killing nearly half a million Americans every year. About one out of every five Americans still smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, is considered as addictive as heroin, and most people who “kick the habit” try to quit several times before they finally succeed. Research shows that the combination of counseling and medication used to treat nicotine addiction is the most successful approach to quitting.
While there are many medications available to help you quit tobacco, most of them contain nicotine. The idea is that you give up the cigarettes, because you are getting your “fix” from the medication, which you gradually taper down until you no longer feel the need to use it. Chantix (the generic name is varenicline), however, is different because it does not contain nicotine. Instead, it works in the brain by satisfying the urge to smoke while blocking nicotine from having any effect at all.
If you are going to use Chantix, it works best to start it a week before you plan to quit smoking, although you can use it for about a month before you quit if needed. Most people who quit successfully and permanently use Chantix for six months. Remember that it works best when combined with a stop-smoking (“smoking cessation”) program. And if you try Chantix and start smoking again, you can always start over with Chantix after you figure out what went wrong the last time you tried to quit.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012. Current cigarette smoking among adults—United States,2011. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 61 (44);889-894.
Chantix: Package insert and label information. 2013. Cardinal Health. http://druginserts.com/lib/rx/meds/chantix-4/.
Marotta, F., DiPaolo, A., & Adib, R. 2013. Chantix (varenicline). Journal of Asthma & Allergy Educators. 4(2);85-86.