Champix, which contains the active ingredient varenicline is a member of a group of medications known as smoking cessation therapies. It helps people quit smoking when nicotine replacement therapy proved to be ineffective or is found to be inappropriate. Champix is intended to be used by adults in combination with counselling and quit-smoking education.
Champix works in the brain to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The medication also decreases the pleasure that people get from smoking. It blocks the nicotine’s effects in your body. The brain has receptors for nicotine. When cigarette smoke is inhaled, the nicotine binds with the receptors to trigger a release of a feel-good chemical called dopamine.
Shortly after your smoking is done, the levels of nicotine and dopamine begin to drop, setting your craving and feelings of withdrawal, making you crave for another cigarette. Champix is believed to work at the receptors that are affected by the nicotine from cigarettes. It is not clear how Champix exactly works.
The main benefit of Champix is the help it provides in quitting smoking when nicotine replacement therapy proved to be ineffective or is found to be inappropriate.
Champix is typically used once a day at 0.5 mg for the first three days, then increased to 0.5 mg two times a day for the following four days, then continue on 0.5 mg two times a day or increase to 1 mg two times a day until the end of the therapy. An individual is allowed only a maximum dose of 1 mg twice daily.
Champix should be taken with a full glass of water, usually after eating.
The medication is intended to be used in combination with counselling and quit-smoking education. There are three different approaches to setting a date to quit smoking or the so-called quit date. Talk to your doctor about the method that could be best for you.
The fixed quit approach – This method will start the treatment with Champix 1 to 2 weeks before the exact date you intend to quit smoking. The treatment shall continue for 12 weeks.
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The flexible quit approach – This method starts the treatment with Champix, then you set the date when to quit smoking between weeks 2 and 5 after the first day of treatment. The treatment should continue for 12 weeks. For individuals to succeed in quitting smoking during this period, it is recommended that another 12 weeks of Champix treatment be continued in order to reduce the reduce of starting smoking again.
The gradual quit approach – This method involves taking Champix and gradually decreasing smoking with the goal to quit by the end of 12 weeks. If able to do so, you may quit smoking at any time before the end of 12 weeks. Continue to take Champix for an additional 12 weeks to complete a total of 24 weeks of treatment.
Your doctor may gradually decrease the dose of Champix as you stop the medication in order to reduce the risk of you starting to smoke again.
The individuals who failed to quit smoking during the 12-week treatment should not lose hope. They should try the treatment again once they have identified the reasons that contributed to their failure to quit.
It is important that Champix be taken exactly as recommended by your doctor. In the event that you miss a dose, take as soon as you remember, then continue with your regular schedule. If your next regular schedule is too close to the time when you remembered that you missed a dose, just skipped the missed dose. Do not double the dose as a makeup for the one you missed.
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