“How long does it take Chantix to clear my system?”

by Dr. Antonio Howell, MD

in Blog

Dr. Howell

This is the top (or very close to the top) question I get from readers regarding Chantix.

The first piece of information you need to know is what is the half-life of Chantix? A half-life is the amount of time it takes your body to eliminate one half of a substance.

For example if “drug X” has a half life of 30 minutes it means if you start with 10mg of that drug in your system then 30min later there should only be 5mg of the drug left in the body and after one hour only 2.5mg of the drug left.

DID YOU KNOW?
After 6 to 7 days of not taking the drug, your body has only trace amount of Chantix present.


There is a specific half-life for every drug we consume. The half-life of Chantix is approximately 24 hours.

Pharmacokinetics principles tell us that it takes 5 to 6 half-lifes to get a drug out of your system. Therefore in the case of Chantix 5 to 6 days after most of the drug is out of your system.

Here is how it works:

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*Starting from the last dose of Chantix 24 hours later your body is 50% free of Chantix.

*After two half-life (or 48 hrs) you are 75% free of Chantix.
*After an additional 24 hours(3 half-lifes) your body is 87.5% free of Chantix.


*You continue this progression and after 5 days (5 half-lifes) your system is practically 97% free of Chantix.

*After about a 6 to 7 days your body has only trace amount of Chantix present.

It is worth noting that once the drug is out of your body the effects of the drug can linger awhile until your body fully recovers.


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary November 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I just wanted to thank you for posting this information. I began Chantix 3 weeks ago and I believe it is making me depressed. I have sleep apnea, my appetite is poor, and I feel upset to my stomach all the time. Needless to say I stopped taking it 12 hours ago and just got curious as to how long I had to wait to feel better. Thank-you so very much!

2 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD December 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

You are welcomed.
I am sorry you are having trouble with Chantix. I congratulate you and encourage you to continue to try other methods to quit smoking.

3 Omar January 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Hi
I am a 23 year old guy and I have breathing problems. I smoke daily and I am considering taking Chantix for ONE WEEK ONLY and quit. THing is will this be enough to cause long-term depression? Ive read about people saying it stayed with them for 4 years. I tried EVERYTHING else and I could not quit and I am wondering if this is worth a shot or not. I know it will make me quit but I am scared about the whole depression thing. If it was short term I’d be fine but 3 years? That’s just too much.

4 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD January 3, 2012 at 3:16 am

Hello Omar,

The whole depression and suicide link around Chantix has been blown way out of proportion. Everybody is probably at fault because of a few cases that got some publicity at the time Chantix came out about 6yrs ago.

Now it seems that Chantix is pretty safe. For goodness sake it is less dangerous than smoking.

Chantix is not going to stay in your system for 4 years, or 3 years or even 3mo. Once you stop taking Chantix it will be out of your system in about a week or 10days at the most.

Good luck with your quit smoking attempt.

5 MD January 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

THANK YOU for pointing out how blown out of proportion the Chantix-depression link has become. Numbers wise it is VERY LOW compared to the number of people who have used it. Not to mention many people who had trouble had previous issues long before Chantix. I smoked for 20 years. At first I was TERRIFIED to try it, I read all these horror stories. Worried for nothing. I went on Chantix and haven’t picked up a smoke since last year. I never thought that would happen! The worst effect I had was being very tired for the first week and stomach pains IF I didn’t take it as DIRECTED with food. For the MAJORITY of people Chantix is a fantastic and SAFE option! I just wanted to post on behalf of people who had no psych issues using Chantix at all.

6 MaurD January 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

ps: Taking Chantix for one week isn’t going to do anything for you. My doctor put me on it for 30 days, which was less than the 12 weeks recommended, but was all I happened to need. Don’t let all the fear mongering keep you from taking a product that will save your health AND your money! Dr. Howell has it right – smoking is a lot more dangerous. Good luck!

7 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD January 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

MD,

You are welcomed. Yes I think the Chantix depression/suicide link has been a little overhyped. I think Chantix was targeted by people who wanted to exploit their product mishap for gain and profit.

8 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD January 27, 2012 at 7:29 am

MaurD,

Thank you. 12 week is probably a good average some people took it for a lot longer and some take it for less time.

9 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD February 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

***In Response To Melissa Boyle on Facebook*****

Melissa Boyle. First of all thank you for your comment. But I could not disagree with you more.
I here the outrage in your words. But I am afraid it is a little misguided.
Where is your outrage towards the tobacco companies that hooked you on nicotine in the first place? Why aren’t you mad at them?
Ladies and gentlemen here is an example of someone who is completely misguided. I mean to say that you would “rather smoke for the rest of my life than to endure the effects of this drug…” Give me a freaking break.
Comparing lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and the list goes on….
Comparing the suffering of those patients to a few sleepless nights?
I am sorry you are not thinking clearly right now. I wish you the best of luck.

10 Susan Dooley February 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Just want to know if my horrible taste of food is a side effect of chantix?

11 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD February 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm

To Susan Dooley,

http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20090821/cigarette-smoke-dulls-taste-buds
http://www.coffeechemistry.com/index.php/News/Health/smoking-believed-to-affect-taste-buds.html

The two links above confirms to me what I have been saying for sometime now. Most of the side effects people blame on taking Chantix is really a results of the smoking and NOT Chantix. I see Chantix as the super-hero that is misunderstood. It tries to do good but get’s blamed for all the negative things that are not his fault. Sort of like the movie HANCOCK.

12 Tammy S April 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’m just going to put my 2 cents in. I have taken Chantix for almost a month now. Although I’ve had some of the side effects, (there for awhile I felt I was the poster child for side effects) it is the best thing I’ve done. I had smoked for 23 years took this for 2 weeks, stopped smoking and have been smoke free for almost 2 weeks! To be what side effects I had were worth it, even the vivid dreams!! But thanks for letting us know how long it takes to be out of our systems when we do stop taking it!

13 Mandi R. June 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I took Chantix for 10 days. Quit smoking on day 5. I was, like Melissa, having sleepless nights. But when my dreams became more than just vivid – very violent and horrific – my doctor told me to stop taking it. I’m still not smoking and not going to. The drug did its job.

14 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD July 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Mandi,

Thank you for sharing your story.

15 Michel Delfino September 22, 2012 at 4:19 am

I took Chantix for 2 days (5 mg each day). On day 2 I experienced the following side-effects: involuntary crying, uncontrollable shaking and trembling, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, vivid nightmares where I was seemingly asleep and awake at the same time, an increase in blood pressure (a jump from my normal 130/70 to 198/96), increased heart rate (from my normal 65 bpm to 130), extreme chest tightness, difficulty breathing, suicidal thoughts, and loss of memory. Obviously, I stopped taking it after day 2. It has now been 2 days since I last took it and I am still experiencing the side-effects, tho they have lessened slightly. I assume, and hope, that the Chantix will be largely out of my system within another week and the side-effects will disappear. Taking Chantix was, without question, the most terrifying experience of my life. This can be a very dangerous prescription drug for some people and I am one of those people. The problem is that you don’t know if you are either, until you take it. It is not worth the risk, in my opinion. Based on your responses, dismissals and trivializations of some of the posted comments Dr. Howell, I would say at best that you are an irresponsible doctor and somewhat of an asshole. Cheers!

16 Michel Delfino September 22, 2012 at 4:22 am

Excuse me, I mis-typed…the dose I took was 0.5 mg, not 5 mg.

17 Eve September 23, 2012 at 10:15 am

I took chantix for the last 2 weeks to quit smoking. I started to feel weird and like I couldnt focus at work so I stopped taking the pill and a day later went out drinking. I may have drank more than I should have since I was assuming the drug was out of my system. I ended up getting very violent (swapping my hand over the top of the tv stand so everything would fly off it??) and literally scared myself and my roommate! I don’t know what came over me but that was the scariest feeling I ever felt and I’m still disturbed by my actions. I can’t come up with any reason but chantix since I’ve never once acted like this before! I wish I had read this article before I went out because I would have restrained from drinking for longer than 24-48 hours after taking my last pill!!

18 Dr. Antonio Howell, MD September 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

Eve,

Thanks for your comments. It takes a lot to share such a personal story. So, I guess you know now that Chantix and alcohol should not be mixed. It is just not a good idea.

Still believe that Chantix is a good drug to quit smoking.

19 Allen B October 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I took it for three days won’t take it again,the side effect list is endless but I will say that the comment I rad about the doc was totally uncalled for……
Who are you to say that about a guy that’s here trying to help people out ….
If you don’t like his advice don’t take it and leave….

20 Anonymous August 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Are you even a dr.???? obviously the company is paying you! 2 weeks and the side effects are still awful this drug should not be on the market! And its not the nicotine in cigarettes that are harmful and there is no factual proof that cigs cause all those things they just need something to blame. Seriously pot can’t be legal but these prescriptive drugs are far more dangerous!

21 marie August 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Are you even a dr.???? obviously the company is paying you! 2 weeks and the side effects are still awful this drug should not be on the market! And its not the nicotine in cigarettes that are harmful and there is no factual proof that cigs cause all those things they just need something to blame. Seriously pot can’t be legal but these prescriptive drugs are far more dangerous!

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