Pete started taking Chantix last May, just before the smoking cessation drug was issued a black box warning. It did help him quit chewing tobacco, but the side effects far outweighed the benefits.
"I don't know how the makers of Chantix sleep at night knowing their product is responsible for ruining hundreds, if not thousands, of lives."Nobody told Pete about Chantix side effects, and like most people, he didn't read the label. "My doctor said it was a new drug and worked wonders to help people stop their tobacco habit," says Pete, who was given a 10-day supply of sample packs from his doctor. He took 1 mg of Chantix twice a day until August 29, 2009.
"I was at home drinking with my wife and got into a verbal domestic," Pete explains, as though he's writing a police report. "I don't remember most of the incident—my wife told me later it was completely out of character for me. I was very aggressive and at one point (my wife told me later) I pulled my gun out of my gun locker, put it on the kitchen counter and told her to go ahead and shoot me.
"According to my wife, for about the next hour, I was following her around, on my knees, begging her to end my life, to shoot me, I want to commit suicide. I have no history of depression or any kind of mental disorder: this came out of the clear blue. Talk about bizarre. It still seems unbelievable because I can't remember anything, but I know it's true.
"My wife phoned a friend, who then called the police, guys I've known for years, and they came to my house. The next thing I remember is that I woke up in bed—I had fallen asleep-- and the police were outside—my wife told them I had a gun and they were taking every precaution.
"I let them in and they searched my house for guns. I wasn't arrested, no one was injured. They took me to a hotel to separate me and my wife. The next morning I came home and I still couldn't remember anything. I acknowledged that my drinking was getting out of control—I was very hungover—and I checked myself into alcohol rehab. I think this happened due to a combination of drinking and Chantix; I admit that I've sometimes been a heavy drinker but I never acted aggressively or blacked out.
"I was in rehab for 24 days. During that time my wife went online and found out about the Chantix side effects. I was blown away—now I won't even take aspirin.
"As soon as I got out of rehab I saw all the warnings about Chantix and started researching it. I also discovered that I had taken Chantix about a month before it was given the black box warning. The label also said that the prescribing doctor should keep in touch with their patient. I'm a little angry with my doctor. I told him I went to rehab and blamed Chantix, but he just downplayed it, saying it was a rare side effect. Not so, according to the FDA and numerous online sites.
"What's really scary is the research I have done on the Internet. I visit the FDA adverse reporting sight almost daily and see hundreds of adverse reports. The top 10 drugs banned in the US have less side effects than Chantix, yet Chantix has been associated with suicide and violence. Chantix should be included in the top 10. I don't know how the makers of Chantix sleep at night knowing their product is responsible for ruining hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
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"I am an outstanding officer and have monthly and biannual reviews to back me up. I was climbing the career ladder quickly and was likely the next person to get promoted. I'm a member of our SWAT team and preach firearms safety. I have three kids and for me to do something like this is insane—I love my kids.
"One thing I learned in rehab is that combining a drug such as Chantix with alcohol compounds the effect, but there is nothing on the Chantix black label that mentions alcohol. I feel helpless."
Pete's employment hearing is scheduled for next week—he will keep us posted.