Chantix (or Varenicline) is available by prescription only and was approved by the FDA in 2006 with tremendous excitement as it showed dramatic success over the previous quit smoking pills or aids. However, safety concerns have tempered that early enthusiasm. Chantix works by out-competing nicotine for receptors cells in the brain. Once these cells are bound to the Chantix, the nicotine finds itself all dressed up but with no where to go. It also decreases the pleasure associated with nicotine, so it basically breaks the hallmark conditioning associated with nicotine addiction. Chantix boasts a three-fold quit rate over quitting cold turkey, between 15 - 21% success.
This drug should be taken after eating with a full glass of water. It has been shown to be superior to Zyban® (another one of the quit smoking pills) in helping people stop smoking. After one week of use, the person should try to stop smoking. It is recommended they continue taking this medication for another 12 weeks. If they stopped smoking, then they may continue for another 12 weeks. But if they have not stopped, then it's time to visit the doctor to receive some follow up counsel.
Common side effects include nausea and bazaar dreams. It has been reported that some people taking this have developed suicidal thoughts while others have displayed erratic behavior. It is not known whether the medication itself causes this change in behavior or whether it is merely an affect associated with nicotine withdrawal; further study is needed. Nevertheless, the FDA was prompted to place a "Black Box" warning on the label to inform the public of the possible dangers associated with the medication. If these occur, it is recommended the person stop taking it immediately and contact their doctor. As with any medication, it is important to discuss any possible side effects with your physician or other health care professional.
Chantix should not be used in combination with any kind of nicotine replacement therapy as it blocks the uptake of nicotine in the brain.