Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chantix - works or not?

Chantix is the new "stop smoking" drug from Pfizer - and it'd been getting a lot of press. This article describes how it made an otherwise normal individual into a raving psychotic , and this article talks a bit about another person's experience, along with incidental information about how her family members did with it. If you check the comments associated with the first article, you find people on both sides of the argument. The only part of that I find surprising is that the people who it didn't work for seem to think it shouldn't be on the market at all.

Excuse me? I've been on Chantix for a month now, and while I do have some of the common side effects (gas, nausea, vivid dreams) I also, for the first time in 20 years, quit smoking. Is it for everyone? Obviously not. Personal responsibility should be used - several of the stories involve people that were taking Chantix and also taking other drugs for recreational purposes. Now, I don't claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I would think that if I'm taking a drug designed to make a change in the chemistry of my brain, I will want to avoid taking any other drugs (booze included) that alters my brain chemistry.

Another common quote I see is "I didn't do any research while I was on Chantix...". Again, who's fault is that? Did you read the drug information sheet? Did you understand it? If you didn't understand it (like I had no idea what "suicidal ideation" was - so I looked it up.) did you make an effort to find out what it is? Reading through these articles and comments, I am grateful for the comments that point these things out, or I'd feel as if perhaps I was the only one that bothered to monitor myself when I start a new medication. It's my job, after all, to look after myself.

This is not the first time I've taken Chantix. I took it once before, but didn't manage to stop smoking. I cut down dramatically, but I never had the alone time I needed to actually *quit*. Chantix did a great job of crushing the physical craving for nicotine, and a great job of taking all the pleasure out of smoking. Once the drug kicked in, smoking was a smelly, foul tasting experience that did nothing for me. The habit of it, however, was compelling enough that I continued to do it even though it was an unpleasant experience.

I'm sure everyone deals with the actually "quitting" differently. For me, it meant picking a weekend I could sequester myself in my apartment, alone, where I could pace, laugh, bitch, scream, and be as grumpy as I wanted without impacting anyone else. There was a secondary reason for this as well - side effects. Specifically, Chantix has the side effect of causing (not much) gas. The problem really came in when I quit smoking and substituted sugar free mints. That first weekend, I must have gone through 4 or 5 packs of mints a day.

For those of you that don't know, sugar free mints and gums are usually sweetened with something called "sorbitol". In small quantities, it lends a sweet taste to gums, mints, candies, etc. In larger quantities, it's a laxative. In larger quantities, it's an emergency laxative. Gas, the runs, etc etc. Being alone in my apartment meant that I didn't have to explain why I had enough gas to get me from here to Vegas and back.

So there you have it - my experience so far. The down side is that it's only the first part of the battle that's over. Apparently the statistics look like this:

44% of people manage to quite smoking with Chantix. Of the ones that do quit, only 23% are still not smoking at the end of the first year.

That may not sound very encouraging, until you realize:

17% of people that use the patch quit smoking. Of the ones that do quit, only 7% are still not smoking at the end of the first year.


If you make it to the end of that first year, your odds are really, really good.

Now, if someone would just start making mints with Splenda, I'd be all set...


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

In order to start off your smoking cessation regimen with chantix, the Pfizer manufactured quit smoking drug, you need to buy chantix from authentic chantix drug stores.