Really, How Does Chantix Work?

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in chantix, quit smoking, side effects

The 3 Week Diet

Most smoking cessation drugs contain nicotine to maintain the body’s supply of such addictive substance while withdrawing from smoking. The famous nicotine patch for instance, replaces one’s source of nicotine so that even though he doesn’t smoke, the craving is sustained. Chantix (varenicline) on the other hand, works differently. It’s a non-nicotine pill that is clinically tested to help people quit. But if there’s no nicotine, does that mean the person taking it will feel the same cravings?

Understanding How Nicotine Works

Before going deeper, you want to know first how nicotine works.  The brain has receptors for nicotine. As you smoke, the nicotine attaches to these receptors. In turn, the receptors send messages to another part of the brain which stimulates the production of dopamine. This naturally-occurring chemical is responsible for ‘pleasure’ feeling. The problem with dopamine is that it doesn’t last long. In just a short period of time, everything goes back to normal and the pleasure is gone. This is where nicotine addiction comes in. Unconsciously, your brain starts looking for nicotine to experience the enjoyment that it brings. This leads to one cigarette after the other.

Chantix however, addresses this problem (something that most smoking cessation drugs fail to do). Instead of replacing the source of nicotine, Chantix attaches to the nicotine receptors in the brain and block the substance from coming. Because the nicotine compounds find it hard to fasten themselves in the brain receptors, the latter fail to send out messages to the other part of the brain that produces dopamine. So there’s a lesser degree of pleasure. Chantix users are therefore expected to feel smoking as a less pleasurable activity so gradually, they stop smoking. Some find the taste of cigarette smoke bitter after using Chantix.

In comparison, Chantix is better than the Bupropion SR. In a clinical trial carried out by Pfizer, there were 45-50 percent of smokers who took Chantix stopped smoking while using the said drug. That’s significantly higher than the 12 percent in the placebo group. The participants were interviewed 12 weeks later and 20 percent of those who had taken Chantix were still not smoking.


Some Reminders Before You Quit Smoking Now with Chantix:

There are some issues however that were linked to Chantix. There are plenty of claims that say using Chantix may cause behavioral changes in a person. Some users reported to have experienced suicidal tendencies, severe depression, hostility and agitation. However, there is no known proof for this. It is still unknown whether said behavioral issues are caused by the nicotine withdrawal, underlying psychiatric issues, or Chantix itself.


To be sure you have a safe and successful smoking cessation with Chantix, always consult your doctor first before quitting smoking today. The doctor will help you determine whether you have any history of psychological problem (such as depression) in the past which may be triggered while you use the drug.

To sum up, Chantix is a good smoking cessation drug as it targets the root cause of smoking addiction – nicotine. But just like other medical ways to quit smoking now, there are health concerns that people should not just ignore.


The 3 Week Diet

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