Your doctor may prescribe varenicline (Chantix) or bupropion (Zyban) to help you cope with cravings for tobacco. These medicines are pills that don't contain nicotine. You also can use nicotine replacement products, which do contain nicotine.
Nicotine replacement gives your body some nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Nicotine is addictive. But this treatment has about one-third to one-half the amount of nicotine in most cigarettes. It also delivers the nicotine slowly, so it rarely causes addiction. And these products don't have the harmful tars, carbon monoxide, and other toxic chemicals that are in tobacco.
There are several types of nicotine replacement:
Nicotine nasal spray (Nicotrol) is another nicotine replacement. But because of its side effects, it is not widely used. See your doctor about this medicine.
You can buy nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges without a prescription. You need a prescription to buy inhalers. You may be able to use a couple of these products at the same time, such as a patch and gum. But talk to your doctor first to make sure it's okay to mix nicotine medicines. People younger than age 18 can't buy the over-the-counter products, but a doctor may prescribe them.
Talk to your doctor if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant and want to stop smoking. Most doctors will recommend that you try other ways to stop smoking before using nicotine replacement.
If you have a health condition, such as mental illness or heart problems, or if you take medicine for a mental health problem, be sure to talk to your doctor before you use nicotine replacement products.
Medicines can double your chances of quitting.1
The most common side effects of varenicline (Chantix) include:
Some people also have side effects such as headaches and dizziness.
Chantix may be linked with a small increase in risk for heart problems (including heart attack). Call your doctor if you have any cardiovascular disease symptoms that are new or getting worse, such as chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, calf pain when walking, or sudden onset of weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking.
Some people who take bupropion SR (Zyban) have:
There is a small risk of having seizures when you use bupropion. The risk increases if you have had a head injury or seizures.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. When you stop smoking, there may be a change in how other medicines work for you.
FDA warning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that people who are taking bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix) and who experience any serious or unusual changes in mood or behavior or who feel like hurting themselves or someone else should stop taking the medicine and call a doctor right away. If you already have a mood or behavior problem, be sure to tell your doctor before you decide to use these medicines.
The side effects depend on the type of nicotine replacement product.
There is a small chance of addiction with the gum or lozenges.
Your doctor might recommend that you use medicine to stop smoking if:
|Use medicines to quit smoking||Don't use medicines|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I started smoking when I was in the military. But it is affecting my health, and I want to quit. I've tried the patch, gum, and cold-turkey methods to quit, and they didn't work. So I talked with my doctor about quitting, and he suggested that I try using Chantix. He also recommended that I have counseling and join a support group. It's been a little over a month since I started Chantix, and so far it is helping with my craving to smoke. Talking in counseling is also helpful. I think I finally am going to be able to quit."
— Dave, age 42
"I thought about taking medicine to quit smoking, but I already take several other medicines for health problems. I just didn't want to take another prescription medicine and take the chance that it might cause problems. So I decided to try the nicotine patch. I set a date and started planning for the physical effects of quitting, like having munchies around and cleaning my car and house. I started with the largest patch available. It was great because the withdrawal symptoms were hardly noticeable. Then I went to the medium patch and finally the smallest patch. Now I don't smoke anymore."
— Alanna, age 44
"I started smoking at 15. I always thought I could quit at any time and had tried to quit dozens of times. But then I'd start craving a smoke, and I'd go back to cigarettes. A few years ago, my doctor suggested I try taking Zyban and nicotine gum. It was great, because between the pills and the gum, the withdrawal symptoms were hardly noticeable. I was done with the gum after the first few weeks, but I ended up staying on the pills for 6 months. But using both worked for me, and I haven't smoked for 2 years."
— Carlo, age 52
"My friends pushed me to quit smoking and suggested I talk to my doctor about getting some medicine to help. But I just wasn't comfortable with the idea of taking medicine. I have a strong will, and when I put my mind to doing something, I can usually do it. So I took my doctor's advice to have professional counseling to help improve my chances of success. I quit smoking—cold turkey—5 months ago. All my friends are really surprised that I could quit like that. It has been tough at times fighting the cravings, but it has worked."
— Kesia, age 35
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to use medicine to quit smoking
Reasons not to use medicine
I want to use medicine if it can increase my chances of quitting.
I don't like using medicine.
I'm not concerned about possible side effects.
I am very concerned about side effects.
I'm not worried about how I will pay for the medicine.
I'm worried about how I will pay for the medicine.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
NOT using medicine
1. Using medicine can double my chances of quitting smoking.
2. My chances of quitting are even better if I get counseling along with using medicine.
3. I shouldn't use nicotine replacement products, because they're just as bad as the nicotine in cigarettes.
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry|