About Quit Smoking Forever

by Dr. Antonio Howell, MD

Dr. Howell

This is a blog about quitting smoking. The purpose of this blog is to help you quit smoking forever. Here you will find post that outline or describe safe ways to quit. You will get encouragement, advice, and whatever works to help you quit smoking.

About Dr. Howell

Dr. Howell enjoys helping others enhance their health by quitting smoking. He has been helping people quit smoking since medical school. He sincerely believes that quitting smoking is the number one thing anyone can do to become healthier.

Dr. Howell and his family live in Texas with a dog named Kimba and a big fat cat named Mac.

My Chantix Story

Have you heard about the quit smoking pill CHANTIX® (Chantix)?

I remember when I first heard about this pill in the fall of 2006. I was a surgery resident in St Louis and a friend, who was a Family Practice physician, told me about CHANTIX. Chantix is a Pfizer pill to help people quit smoking. I researched everything I could about the medicine.

Then I blogged about CHANTIX® (Chantix), I initially did it mainly for myself as a way to take notes about this new pill.

Google offered a free online blogging platform named Blogger, which I used. In retrospect, I wished I had begun with my own blog but that is another story.


Flooded with Reader’s Comments

So, I was blogging about CHANTIX® (Chantix) and readers began leaving comments which was great.

I perceived CHANTIX® (Chantix) as the best thing since slice bread. I thought that Pfizer, who also marketed VIAGRA® (sildenafil), had another blockbuster drug in CHANTIX® (Chantix).

But then I started seeing comments on my blog like the following:

“My husband who has never had ANY mental health problems, tried to take his own life after being on [CHANTIX® (Chantix)] for 13 days. He has no recollection of the day it happened.”

Another wrote:

“My brother in law committed suicide Aug 19. He had taken [CHANTIX® (Chantix)] and went off it in the spring, then we found out he had started retaking it 7 days before his suicide.”

And another wrote:

“2 days upon stopping, I went into a complete meltdown of suicidal thoughts, depression, crying for no reason, panic, agitation, lack of concentration….it was a nightmare.”

Other similar comment from other readers followed. I was shocked and horrified to say the least. My initial enthusiasm about the pill vanished and I began re-thinking my professional opinion about the drug. But before I could do anything the unexpected happened.


Dead of a Dallas Musician

On Sept 3, 2007 a musician named Carter Albrecht was shot and killed by his neighbor. Carter and his girlfriend Ryann Rathbone had begun taking CHANTIX® (Chantix) to quit smoking the week prior. Ryann states that the night before Carter began acting strangely and became increasingly aggressive towards her and according to her this was out of character for him.

As one thing led to another Ms. Rathbone became afraid of Carter and locked him out of her apartment. What followed can only be described as tragic. Mr. Albrecht began knocking on his next door neighbor’s door in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 3rd 2007. The neighbor awakened by the loud banging and yelling on his front door fired a warning shot through the door. Unfortunately Mr. Carter who was 6′ 5″ was killed instantly by a bullet to the head.


Tragedic Story Mentioned in Other Blogs

The following day on Sept. 4th another blogger Mr. Paul McEnany wrote on his Hee- Haw-Marketing blog about this unfortunate incident and he quoted the above comments from my readers in his post. And suddenly the traffic to my blog tripled I supposed it was partly because Mr McEnany’s post, Mr. Carter’s celebrity status and an increasing interest about the strange side-effects reported by patients taking CHANTIX® (Chantix). Whatever the reason I started hearing from all sorts of people including reporters.


The Media Interest

On Sept. 13 Darla Atlas of People magazine contacted me wanting to do a story about CHANTIX® (Chantix). Some Morning show in NY wanted me to debate the pros and cons of Chantix on their show. On Tuesday, November 20, 2007 a CBS producer named Dorie Klissas contacted regarding a story they wanted to run about CHANTIX® (Chantix) side effects. Derek de Koff of New York Magazine contacted me prior to writing his first person account on his experience with Chantix. Again I digress….


My Personal Views (5 Years Ago)

Here is the bottom line – Pfizer made a colossal mistake releasing CHANTIX® (Chantix) without adequate warning regarding this drug’s lethal side effects. Here is what we now know about CHANTIX® (Chantix):

  • CHANTIX® (Chantix) SHOULD NOT BE a first line drug for treating people who want to quit tobacco. One should try other methods to quit before trying CHANTIX® (Chantix).
  • CHANTIX® (Chantix) SHOULD NOT BE take by patients without close medical supervision. A medical professional would be able to tell if subtle changes to your personality are occurring. You will NOT be able to see these changes on your own.
  • CHANTIX® (Chantix) SHOULD NEVER, EVER be sold online. Ever! (see above).
  • We must NEVER FORGET the tragic stories of Carter Albrecht and others and learn our lessons from their loss.

My Personal Views 2012

I have softned my stance on Chantix. Mainly because after five years the initial negative cloud has cleared and with more and more people using the drug and successfully quitting with little or no side effects. I must admit that CHANTIX is safe.

You can call me a flip-flopper if you want but my main concern is the safety of my patients. New data which was not available 5 years ago forces me to reconsider and change my view on Chantix. Simply put CHANTIX IS THE CHAMP!.

Email me any time with comments, questions, or suggestions at: drantoniohowell [at] drantoniohowell.com

Medical Publications:


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD October 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Comments welcomed.

2 G.Klein April 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Interesting viewpoint and story !
It is true that Chantix can creat bad mood disorders. However, they are very transitory and should only be taken seriously while we are taking the drug. I beliebe someone who knows about it ahead of time can adjust for this and take precautions while undergoing treatment.

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