Quitting smoking is one of the best but most difficult decisions one can make. There are tangible health benefits, your senses will become sharper, your heart will be healthier and your lungs will start repairing themselves. However, as any former smoker can tell you, this process is far from a walk in the park. Nicotine cravings can be intense. They can lead to anxiety, frustration, drowsiness and an increase in appetite. It is a real challenge but there are ways to pass these hurdles and continue on your way to a longer and healthier life.
What is Champix?
Champix (active ingredient varenicline) is a tablet used in the treatment of nicotine addiction. What Champix does is inhibit and antagonise the nicotine receptors in your body. This will reduce the craving for nicotine and other symptoms of withdrawal. If you smoke whilst taking Champix you’ll notice a decrease in the feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment you used to get from tobacco. This reduction in the pleasurable sensation from smoking may be exactly what you need to help break the cycle. You can experience a boost in willpower that could allow you to continue in your quest to stop consuming nicotine altogether.
Does it work?
Yes. Studies have shown that people taking Champix have a higher success rate when it comes to quitting. In fact, patients who use this medication are four times more likely to quit than those who do not. If you combine Champix with social support from friends and family your chances of success are even greater.
When can I start?
Varenicline is a prescription medication, so before taking it you need to consult with a doctor. Champix treatment is usually twelve weeks long, and it starts even before you quit smoking. Once you’ve received your prescription you can set your quit date. You can then take the tablets for up to two weeks to ease into a tobacco free life. There’s no pressure during this initial two week period; you can set your quit date for when you feel ready. If you think it may take you a bit longer than a fortnight, speak to your GP to help formulate a plan that’s right for you. Because you will not be receiving as much gratification from smoking as you did previously, when you reach your quit date and finally put out that last cigarette the craving for nicotine should be reduced. It will be easier to manage than if you had quit without the aid of medication.
What happens after the quit date?
After your quit date you’ll take Champix tablets for about ten more weeks. Stay the course, as your chances of success are higher if you complete the full twelve week program. The tablets should help you manage the effects of withdrawal. Anxiety, sleeping problems and irritability will be diminished, which in turn will help you reach your goal. However, keep an eye on your moods and do ask for help from people around you to help you get through any rough patches you may experience.
And when the twelve weeks are over?
After your initial twelve week treatment with Champix, you’ll have ideally stopped smoking altogether. It took effort and it wasn’t always easy, but you did it. Try to be prepared to say an affirmative NO to yourself if you ever feel the need for “just one cigarette”. You’ve come a long way: you can breathe better now, you don’t get as winded when doing physical activity and your body is beginning to heal. If you have friends or relatives who smoke, don’t be afraid to ask them to avoid smoking in front of you. This way, the temptation and chance of a possible relapse will be much less likely.
Getting rid of a smoking habit is one of the best but most difficult processes to go through in life. With the right support from those closest to you, the expertise of your doctor and the right medication achieving a smoke-free lifestyle can be much easier. You may even reap the benefits of your decision to quit much sooner than you imagined.