Champix is a medication that is taken to help you stop smoking cigarettes. It works within the brain to prevent cravings to smoke and reduce withdrawal symptoms on stopping smoking. This can make it easier to give up the habit of smoking.
What is Champix?
- Champix is a medication taken to help you give up smoking
- Champix contains the active ingredient varenicline
- Varenicline mimics the effect of nicotine (the addictive chemical in cigarettes) in the brain, making it easier to stop smoking
- Taking Champix can double your chance of giving up cigarettes
- Stopping smoking still requires willpower, even when using Champix
- It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.
How Does Champix Work?
Smoking becomes addictive because nicotine attaches to receptors in the brain to stimulate pleasurable or relaxing feelings within you. When you try to stop smoking, the lack of nicotine leads to unpleasant feelings of withdrawal. This in turn makes you crave a cigarette, making it difficult to stop smoking.
Champix contains varenicline which mimics the effect of nicotine. Champix partly stimulates the nicotine receptors in the brain so that the effect of withdrawal is minimised. However, Champix also partially blocks the receptors so that if you do give in and have a cigarette, you don’t get the same calming effects that you would usually experience when smoking.
These effects combined can make it a lot easier to give up smoking. In order for Champix to be as successful as possible, you must be ready and determined to stop smoking. Giving up cigarettes will still require willpower, with Champix giving you a helping hand.
How is Champix Taken?
Champix is a tablet that should be swallowed with a full glass of water. It is better to take Champix after eating, so most people take it after breakfast and after their evening meal. This is to help minimise any feelings of nausea (sickness).
What is the dosage of Champix?
You should decide in advance the date that you want to stop smoking, and then begin taking Champix one week before your chosen quit date. Taking it before you quit smoking allows Champix to begin working on the nicotine receptors, so that stopping smoking feels easier.
The Champix pack has clearly marked days and times to help ensure you take the right dose of Champix each day.
On days 1 to 3, you should take one 0.5mg tablet each morning.
On days 4 to 7, you should take one 0.5mg tablet in the morning and one in the evening.
Day 8 is the day you quit smoking.
From day 8 onwards, you should take a 1mg tablet in the morning, and a 1mg tablet in the evening.
The total treatment course lasts for 12 weeks, including the first week of 0.5mg tablets. This means you will be taking 1mg of Champix twice a day for a total of 11 weeks.
Some people will need to take Champix 1mg twice daily for a further 12 weeks (a total of 24 weeks treatment) to improve their chances of remaining abstinent from cigarettes. This can be discussed with your prescriber if, after the first 12 weeks treatment, you have managed to abstain from smoking whilst taking Champix.
Are there any Side Effects to Champix?
Most people do not experience any side effects with Champix.
Occasionally, some people experience:
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
- Unusual or vivid dreams
- Excess flatulence (wind).
These side effects are likely to settle down, but if they persist or become troublesome you should speak to your doctor for further advice.
If you drive or operate heavy machinery you should exercise caution until you know how Champix affects you.
Serious allergic reactions happen very rarely. If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip swelling or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.
Champix may not be suitable for everyone. You should tell your doctor if you:
- Have a history of psychiatric disease
- Have, or have ever had, seizures
- Have ever had a heart attack or stroke
- Are under 18
- Are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding.