Champix is a medication to help you quit smoking. It helps to manage the withdrawal effects and cravings and does not contain nicotine. The 2 week started pack starts with a lower dose (0.5mg once daily) of Champix for the first few days. This then increases to 0.5mg twice daily towards the end of the first week. In the second week, the dose increases to the 1mg twice daily.
Champix works in two ways; by reducing your craving for nicotine and lessening the effects of a cigarette to make them less appealing. It does this by mimicking the effect that nicotine has on your body. Nicotine stimulates receptors receptors in your brain. Champix partially stimulates these receptors to stop you from getting cravings while also blocking them from being stimulated by nicotine. This means if you were to smoke a cigarette while taking Champix it won’t have a pleasing effect.
Champix has been found to double your chances of quitting smoking. If you complete the treatment and have real motivation to stop smoking, then you have the best chance at succeeding.
Champix is usually taken for 12 weeks. Some people may find that they need to have another course of treatment before they successfully quit smoking. The journey is different for everyone. Most people begin with the 2-week starter pack, then continue with standard dose Champix extension packs. Some people who have experienced strong side effects or who have pre-existing health conditions may be started on low dose Champix instead.
You will start taking Champix the week before you are due to quit smoking. This means you will be smoking for the first week of taking the medicine. After this it is not recommended to smoke but if you do, the effects of it will be blocked by Champix to prevent you from wanting to smoke.
Champix is available on prescription only. You doctor will assess your suitability as it is not safe for everyone. In some cases Champix can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. If this happens you should tell your doctor right away who may advise you to stop your treatment, issuing you with an appropriate alternative.
Varenicline tartrate is the active ingredient in Champix.
The other ingredients are: microcrystalline cellulose, anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate, croscarmellose sodium, colloidal silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate.
Before you start taking Champix, choose a date that you intend to stop smoking. Start taking Champix one week before this date, building up your dose gradually as prescribed. The tablets should be taken with a full glass of water after eating a meal. You should stop smoking cigarettes after the first week of taking Champix, continuing to take the medication twice a day for the next 11 weeks.
Follow the instructions in the pack. Begin by taking the first tablet - this will be labelled '1'. Take the tablets in order. A Sun and Moon icon will tell you whether you should be taking the tablet(s) in the morning or the evening. On days 1-3, you will be taking 1 x 0.5mg tablet once a day. On days 4-7, you will be taking 1 x 0.5mg tablet twice a day (morning and night). In Week 2, you will be taking 1 x 1mg tablets twice a day. After the completion of the Starter Pack, speak to your doctor about your progress so far. You will them probably take Champix Standard, which is 1 x 1mg tablets twice a day - this dose will be continued for several weeks (usually 10 more weeks)
The Champix Starter Pack will include full instructions about which pill to take when. You should follow these instructions. During the first three days of the starter pack, you’ll take one 0.5mg tablet once a day. On days 4-7 you take two 0.5mg tablets a day. For the last week, you will take two 1mg tablets every day.
It is recommended that you complete a 12 week course of Champix, however some people find that they need to take it for more or less time than 12 weeks.
You should take Champix as prescribed for the full 12 weeks to get the full benefit from it. If you stop it earlier then you may not remain successful in abstaining from cigarettes. If you wish to stop early due to adverse effects, ask your doctor for advice.
There are a number of possible side effects associated with taking Champix. You may experience:
If you experience feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts you should stop taking Champix right away and inform your doctor.
If you experience particularly strong side effects, that start to interfere with your life, you should speak to your doctor. They may decide it is best to swap you on to Low Dose Champix instead.
Champix should not be taken if:
It should be used with caution if you have a history of seizures, depression or any related mental health condition. This is something you should discuss with your doctor to determine if Champix is suitable for you.
Inform your doctor of any other medications you are taking before you start Champix. You should avoid other anti smoking medication while you are taking Champix.
It’s recommended to avoid alcohol while you are taking Champix as it can lower your tolerance for alcohol. Mixing the two can cause aggression in some people or lead to blackouts.
Champix is not safe to take during pregnancy. Quitting smoking is advised during this time. Speak to your doctor or midwife for advice on a suitable method to help you stop.
Caution should be taken if you have epilepsy or a history of experiencing seizures and you are planning on taking Champix. Your doctor will review your medical history to determine if it is safe for you to take Champix.
A common side effect of Champix is vivid dreams. The medication is having an effect on your brain so this is one way in which your mind reacts to this.
It’s common to put on weight after you stop smoking. When you smoke, it heightens your metabolism and suppresses your appetite so after you stop, you may want to eat more but your body will burn calories at a slower rate. It can also be tempting to replace the habit of smoking with food. While you are trying to quit smoking you may want to increase your exercise routine and focus on eating properly rather than dieting.
Champix is available in three different packs. The Champix 2 Week Starter Pack, is designed for people who are just beginning to take Champix to stop smoking. The pack tells you which tablet(s) to take each day. To begin with, you take one 0.5mg tablet once a day. After the first few days, you will take one 0.5mg twice a day. In the second week, you will take 1mg twice a day. If you have certain medical conditions i.e. kidney problems, or if you experience strong side effects, your doctor may issue you Champix Low Dose instead. This contains only 0.5mg tablets of Champix. Champix Standard Dose packs contain 1mg tablets of Champix - these are usually used as a continuation of your treatment after the 2 Week Starter Pack has been completed.
Chantix is the American name for Champix- they are the same drug.
Other types of medications are available as a stop smoking treatment. These are Zyban tablets and nicotine replacements. These include nicotine patches, gum, nasal sprays, lozenges, and inhalers. Unlike Champix, NRTs do contain nicotine.
There are lots of support available to help you to quit smoking. As long as you have the motivation to quit these resources, along with Champix, will help you to end your nicotine addiction. Stop smoking services are available locally which consist of group sessions or one to one counselling. There are helplines, online resources and online advisors available to turn to. You may get a personalised Quit Plan which will include steps to take and how you can help yourself to manage your withdrawal symptoms.
Studies have shown that in monitored groups, 22% of people taking Champix successfully quit in comparison to 8% of people taking the placebo drug. It may sound like a small success rate but the effectiveness of Champix relies upon how much you want to succeed in quitting smoking. It has proven to be the most effective medication to aid people to quit.
Champix does not contain nicotine or any other addictive substances, so it is not an addictive medication.
Champix is specifically designed to help smokers to quit. If you have a different form of nicotine addiction then discuss this with your doctor who can help you to find a suitable treatment for you.
The success rate of Champix all depends on what you bring to it. Champix on its own cannot make you stop smoking, it requires your own determination to quit and to commit to stopping. This is why it might not have the same results for everyone but if you really want to quit smoking then there is no reason why Champix won’t work well for you.
Champix should be taken over a period of 12 weeks but this can be extended if you have not successfully been able to stop smoking by then. Studies have shown that Champix is safe to take over a one year period.
You can continue to smoke or vape during your first week of treatment leading up to your quit date. After this, you should refrain from vaping. The medicine works in such a way that if you have a set back and do vape, you will get less enjoyment out of it. This helps you to quit and feel like you no longer need to smoke or vape.
Champix is designed in such a way that it combats your cravings for nicotine so that you will gradually wean yourself off it, easing the withdrawal symptoms. Champix shouldn’t be used alongside nicotine replacement.
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