What are the medicines?
Your doctor may prescribe
varenicline (Chantix) or bupropion (Zyban) to help you cope with cravings for
tobacco. These medicines are pills and do not contain nicotine.
Varenicline acts on areas in the brain affected by nicotine. It helps with
craving and withdrawal symptoms. Varenicline also blocks the effects of
nicotine from tobacco. If you start smoking again while you are taking
varenicline, the medicine lowers the sense of satisfaction you get from
smoking, improving the chances that you will quit. Some studies have found that
varenicline works better than bupropion.1 But how well
one medicine works for others may be different from how well it works for you.
You may need to try different medicines to find one that works for you.
You start taking varenicline about a week before you quit smoking, and
you take it for a total of 12 to 24 weeks. You take varenicline 2 times a day,
The way bupropion helps people cope with cravings
is not entirely known. Bupropion can help balance chemicals in your brain and
reduce your withdrawal symptoms. Doctors also prescribe bupropion (under the
brand name Wellbutrin) to treat depression. But it can help you stop smoking
even if you do not have depression.
You start taking bupropion
daily about 1 to 2 weeks before you quit smoking. This builds up the level of
medicine in your body. You keep taking bupropion for 7 to 12 weeks after you
stop using tobacco. You can take it for as long as 6 months to a year.
There are two other medicines you can try if varenicline and bupropion do
not work or you cannot take them. These are nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)
and clonidine (Catapres).
What are the risks of taking a medicine to quit smoking?
The most common side effects of varenicline include nausea, increased
dreaming, and constipation. More people have side effects such as nausea,
headache, and dizziness when they use both varenicline and a nicotine
Varenicline may make current mental illness symptoms worse.
Or it may bring back symptoms of mental illness in people who have had a mental
illness such as depression or bipolar disorder.
Some people taking
bupropion reported dry mouth and trouble sleeping. There is a small risk of
seizures when you use bupropion. The risk increases if
you have had seizures in the past before you used bupropion.
your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and
over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal
supplements. When you stop smoking, there may be a change in how other
medicines work for you.
Using both medicine and professional counseling often
works best to quit smoking. If you need more information on tips for quitting,
see the topic