Others appear fine on Chantix. The anti-smoking drug from Pfizer, which is not a patch but is an oral medication that targets the brain, burst onto the market not quite two years ago with a flourish and a fanfare that suggested the Holy Grail of Smoking Cessation has arrived.
However, at the end of the day it seems that you just don't know what's going to happen, when something plays with your brain.
Unlike other anti-smoking drugs, which are based on the principle of gradual withdrawal from nicotine dependence, Chantix goes for the jugular by taking the pleasure away. It accomplishes this feat by targeting the neuro receptors in the brain that respond to nicotine, thereby preventing them from releasing dopamine, which is the chemical responsible for the smoker's high. While nicotine builds up in your system, it's the shot of nicotine which Pfizer believes goes straight to the brain, resulting in a quick hit of pleasure. It doesn't last long, but it's there. And it leaves you wanting more of the same.
And so if you quit cold turkey, or even gradually with a patch or other smoking cessation aid, there is always one common thread—and that is if you give up on quitting, if you can't take it anymore, your little white smoldering friend will always be good for a puff of pleasure. Oh, you try to deny yourself. You try to hold firm, stay the course, and muster the discipline to remain strong and kick the habit.
But if you can't—if you JUST CAN'T—you know that the pleasure is as close again as the nearest lighter.
That's where Chantix is different, apparently. In blocking the release of dopamine, it takes away the pleasure entirely. Or so it seems. Pfizer is a bit cloudy as to how it works, but they know that it does.
Of course it works. But the fallout varies with the individual, and reaction to a Chantix cycle is as individual, as every individual on the face of the earth.
Some people breeze right through it. Sure it's hard—quitting smoking is a tough road—but they hunker down and get it done. They go through the pain of losing the pleasure, the sheer effort of making such a wholesale lifestyle change, and are thankful in the end that Chantix helped them to let go of the addiction once and for all.
Others, it appears, aren't so lucky. In post after online post, dozens of Chantix users report depression and anxiety. Some people report a history of depression prior to taking Chantix, while others present no history at all before going on the Pfizer drug.
Some felt depressed while on Chantix. Others had trouble coming off Chantix. The majority, finding that Chantix was making them irritable and testy, and turning them into a non-functioning member of society, pulled themselves off Chantix and went back to smoking.
Grown men with strong, emotional constitutions prior to Chantix, report breaking down and crying several times a day.
One woman identified as Angela told of her boyfriend, who had suffered a bout with depression two years ago, but recovered and had been happy and healthy for 18 months.
Then he began taking Chantix in an effort to stop smoking. Angela reports that her boyfriend's darkness came back, allegedly triggered by Chantix. Two weeks before her post in October of last year, Angela reports that her boyfriend tried to commit suicide by way of an overdose of Paxil and Wellbutrin.
He survived, but the experience has left them both fearful of Chantix.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received a flood of reports from Chantix users that have experienced depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, amidst a host of other adverse affects. The agency is currently studying the issue.
In the meantime, while Chantix appears to have many fans, it seems to have many, many more foes. In their view Chantix is a wild card, with inconsistent results given that it is targeted towards the brain. Quitting smoking is tough enough, without involving a medication that exacerbates, and often intensifies the difficulty, turning determination into despair.
Why does Chantix work for some, and not for others? Sometimes the dosages have to be customized for the individual. Others have proven fine while on the medication, but withdrawing from it is hell. For some, both are true.
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The FDA has advised doctors to closely monitor patients for signs of depression and other difficulties linked to a Chantix program—especially if there had been a history of depression, or mental illness prior to taking Chantix.
Does Chantix work? Yes, it can. But beware.
And have someone looking out for you, because you may turn into someone you are not.
To be fair, some people turn into monsters, or melt away emotionally simply by quitting smoking, without any help from Chantix.
However, put Chantix into the mix, and suddenly it can be a whole new ball game.