St Charles, IL: Karen's husband was trying to quit smoking and his doctor prescribed Chantix. "Then the doctor asked if I was a smoker—it would be too hard for him to quit if I didn't quit at the same time," says Karen. "We asked him if there were any side effects and he assured us there were none—how wrong he was."
"My husband Ken is on blood pressure meds and two years ago I had been hospitalized because of heart palpitations. We told the doctor about our medical conditions and he said not to worry, he didn't even check my heart. He just assured us that Chantix tells your brain not to smoke and doesn't affect your body except maybe some dizziness and nausea.
"We took it last February. The first dose is 0.5 mg and lasts a week; I got really dizzy and nauseous but I was expecting this and it was no big deal if it meant quitting smoking. Then in the second week the dosage doubled to 1 mg. That week was hell.
I almost lost my job as a volunteer because of my erratic behavior: I yelled at my boss and she is so kind to me. I was short tempered with everyone and I didn't care—I just started yelling. I attributed my temper to PMS or menopause because it didn't even occur to me that Chantix could be to blame.
One night my husband and I got into this horrific argument about food—he didn't want something for dinner. He threw a pair of scissors at me and I threw an ashtray in his direction. We have been married 27 years and never fight like this. Even if we disagreed, we would simply walk away. And I yelled at our 17-year-old son for no reason.
Thank god we talk at the dinner table. Luckily, my son knew we were on Chantix and we started talking about it. He went to the cupboard and got a list of side effects the pharmacist gave us when we picked up the drug. The side effects were listed on a separate paper, not from the Chantix maker. Anyway, my son read a litany of side effects. 'Ohmigod, why would you take this drug?' he asked. We quit, right then and there.
But we both had these doom and gloom feelings—I had never felt so low. I am healthy, I exercise and have a positive outlook. But to this day I still have nightmares. For the most part, the mood swings have leveled off but something is still not right. I talk about it with my husband but he says 'Whatever'—he'll work with a broken arm. And we are both still smoking. In fact I smoked more when I took Chantix.
You don't even realize mood swings at the time. And you wonder about the long term effects. I got my heart palpitations back. There were so many side effects listed such as suicidal thoughts and behavior—it could lead anywhere. What other harm could this drug cause?
After we stopped taking Chantix my husband was listening to a radio show about people who had actually committed suicide while on this drug. We went online and read more about all these poor people. I guess a lot depends on your frame of mind but neither of us had a history of depression, nor in either family. I emailed Pfizer, the manufacturer, and asked if side effects could be long term or permanent but I didn't get a reply.
I just want to let people know that Chantix is a terrible thing and that people are really suffering. It makes me sick to think that some have committed suicide—if you are already depressed, why take this? Why isn't the manufacturer talking to the medical community about the side effects? I already know the answer: they won't make any money.
I've taken Chantix twice now (once in 2010 and again Jan. 2014, both times for a 3 week duration). The first time taken, I had increased dream vividness and the common dragging feeling that a lot of people experience but nothing intolerable. The second time was very similar; however, after discontinuing, my head felt very strange. The sensations I felt in my head were so bad that I started to panic that I had done permanent brain damage with Chantix. It's difficult to describe in words, but it felt like my brain was regaining circulation, similar to the tingliness of a limb after blood flow has been pinched off for a long time. I've occasionally described it to other people as a feeling that my brain either took an acid-bath or had been microwaved for a few seconds. It was a very intense head agitation that was accompanied by frequent headaches. It is milder today then the days following my Chantix discontinuation, but I've been off of Chantix for 5 months today and my head still feels a bit strange. It affects my concentration noticeably and generally overwhelms me with an uneasy feeling, to the point that I feel like I should just lay down and sleep it off.
As far as this being permanent or not, I certainly hope it isn't. You won't read much about people saying it gets better because only the current sufferers are the one's motivated to post anything about it. However, I've done my own research and have heard both good and bad stories. Some people say they went back to their familiar selves after a year or so, and for others much longer. Obviously some people are still battling with lingering Chantix effects like an unfamiliar style of depression or brain agitation. With all my sincerity, I hope it gets better for everyone. It's a terrible ride when you're one of the few that is affected this way.
Posted by Tim Pack
I had great results from Chantix, I took it 6 years ago and have not thought about smoking since. The medicine worked great for me and I was a 25 year smoker. Side effects were bearable for me just some nausea. I would and do recommend Chantix to others.
Posted by Heather M
I am sorry you had such a bad experience with Chantix. I however cant say enough great things about it. Not only did i quit smoking it actuallly improved my life. I became a happier person and much more friemdly while taking this marvelous drug. I even requested to stay on it because it made me feel so great. I think that eveyr drug affects people differently and before taking any medication you should research the side effects and see if the benifits out way the risk.
Posted by Sue
I think Chantix is a wonder drug. I've never been able to even consider quitting smoking before. I've smoked for 50 years,started as a young kid. I liked being able to smoke when I first started the Chantix, and it took me almost 3 weeks for the urges to smoke, to ease up. I also switched to a brand of cigarettes I hated, as my last brand to smoke.
I found I was not sleeping well, because the Chantix kept me too jazzed up. As I became tired day by day, I became really cranky. I stopped my nighttime dose, and started sleeping really well. My mood improved 110%.
I started Chantix mid October 2013, and by mid November 2013 I thought I'd quit smoking. Well, sometimes, once a week, I would take 5 puffs off a cigarette. In January 2014, it got to be once a day. So last week, I stopped even taking puffs. My urges would only last maybe 20 minutes, if I'd just hang tough, they'd pass. My 2nd refill ran out, and I thought I was good to go- 5th day off Chantix. NOOOOOO, I gave in and puffed a cigarette this morning. The urges last longer than 20 minutes now. So, I don't know but the Chantix works for me.
Those it made nauseous, are you taking it after a meal like the directions say?
Posted by Julie Palatinus
Five and half years ago I took Chantix and gave up in 10 days after 39 years of smoking. There were minor side effects but I had not choice I had to give up . I had noticeable fogginess of the mind not able to concentrate and slight memory issues . I still have the same fogginess now and then but the memory seems to be worse. I don't believe it returned to what it was at the time of taking Chantix
Posted by Sherry
My husband and I decided to quit smoking together. We both took chantix and the beginning side affects were nasty. Dizzy, light headed,stomach upset all the time. We both stayed on it for 2 months and decided to quit taking chantix. We both are not smoking still, but the side affects for me has been a lot worse than my husbands. He is still a little dizzy, really has to try hard to focus. It's been hard for him. I went to my doctor the other day and totally broke down to the medical assistance when she asked me why I was here today. I told her I didn't know what was wrong with me, I can't snap out of it. My heads in a thick fog, I can't remember anything, I have to write it down. I break down and cry really hard all the time. I don't even know why. I feel terrible about myself like I shouldn't be here anymore,no body really needs me, I have never felt this way before. I did not tell anyone that I have thoughts of ending my life some way and it wouldn't really matter. I need help now, and my doctor said that I am not getting enough sleep and that I am over weight and if I lost weight I would feel better. He said that chantix is out of my system and that's not my problem. He's wrong.. I have been married for 31 years and I was very happy. I love my husband, but keep having to say i am sorry for being so mean. its not me. I have 3 grown kids and 6 grandkids and one on the way. I love my family so much. I see my youngest daughter the most and she sees how messed up I am, she feels so bad for me.she doesn't know what to do. I feel like I am still taking chantix but it has been two months that I have been off of that terrible medication. Is there help for me? You could ask anyone who loves me that I use to be funny,fun, loving caring giving, energetic ,full of life. I scare myself now. I dont want to go anywhere talk to anyone, or even answer my phone. its a hazard for me to drive, its so hard to consentrate . I could keep going and I bet you could too if you have taken chantix..please don't take it. Take my word for what it is worth....you will never be the same.
Posted by angie Pe
i took chantix for 2 weeks,after one week of taking chantix makes me deezzy and vomit,i tried to handle the side effect because i want to quit smoking,i never had weird dreams,only vomit,but after i vomit i felt better..now im happy because i dont smoke no more,my husband is trying to take chantix now,goodluck to him..
Posted by Linda Allen
I'm with "Jason". I took Chantix twice, started back smoking each time. My husband says I haven't been the same since. It's gotten worse, anger, indifference, depression, defeated, rage, and MY HAIR IS FALLING OUT!!!
I tried to kill myself, I can't keep a job, and I'm sick of it.
Posted by mlee
I tried Chantix starter kit twice. The first time I quit due to terrible side effects. As time passed I started to think maybe it wasn't the drug, as it was still on the market. Then tried it again a couple years later, and I'm so sorry I did that. I've never been the same person and my sleep has been disturbed ever since. I've been seeing a Dr. and taking prozac, just trying to get back to who I was and sleep normally again. As of yet, to no avail. If you are considering taking chantix, document your reactions and save all your packaging. I didn't and now have no recourse.
Posted by Kris warren
My wife has taking this drug and and this was two weeks ago to she stop taking it because it made her sick, after she stopped she got paranoid thinks people talk about her at her work yelling at us shaking .... It's like she turn into another person as of today 5/22/13 not as bad but still paranoid this drug is bad
Posted by Jackie
My husband took chantix in 2010 for one month. He never was the same after. He recently committed suicide and my attempts to find answers as to why have led me back to his use of this drug. Have other people had lasting side effects with only limited use of this drug.
Posted by Jane
5 years ago I quit smoking by taking Chantix. My doctor recommended it after I recovered from a blood clot in my colon, near death experience. I had taken the birth control pill and smoked for nearly 30 years. The doctor knew I smoked and she still prescribed me "the pill" suggesting that I should quit. At any rate, my quitting was essential to living. I tried everything else on the market and resorted to Chantix. It did work and I feel like I've never smoked in my life. However, I'm not sure the side effects were worth it. I actually thought the side effects would eventually leave. I still occasionally have total blackouts. Sometimes I have episodes of mania that I don't remember especially if I had some alcohol. Never had any problems in my past with depression or blackouts or manic episodes. I'm now 55 years old and I really need to know if there is any retribution I can recover for this terrible drug and what it's done to my quality of life.
Posted by ron morris
I started Chantix in jan 2012 ,I have progressively become sicker to a point of inability to work. I haven't worked but one full day in 5 months. As I type this I am suffering Migraines, dizziness, nausea and weakness in muscles. I have the feeling I will be this way for the rest of my life as I have been dealing with it for so long now. I have spent many hours in DR.s offices , given enough blood to feed Dracula for a lifetime, been xrayed, and biopsies and still there's no answer for my ailment. It is strange my issues started with the use of Chantix..........
Posted by Mary Dean
I took chantix in 2007. I had an accident a couple of months before and had a traumatic brain injury, broke a rib and collapsed a lung. I was trying to quit because of lung problem.
Immediately I felt nauseated and dizzy. I never was able to up the dose. I remained on the same dose but continued to be sick. I became very depressed. I have never suffered a depressive episode-I have never fully recovered.
They need to investigate this drug further. I think it is very bad and would not recomend it.
Posted by Gail
I had been smoking for 50 years, took Chantix and haven't smoked in 6 months. Just weird dreams at first, no other side effects. Everyone is different.
Posted by Jason
Researching on my own lead me to this story.
I took Chantix in 2010 for about four weeks. I was so sick that I had to stop. I haven't been right since.
My moods are divided between rage and indifference. I no longer wants kids, or to be married. I just want to be alone. I have battled depression before, but it's different now. I am either angry or I don't care.
Am I going to be this way for the rest of my life?
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