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"What if my Chantix or Champix attempt failed?"

John R. Polito, Editor WhyQuit

October 18, 2007

picture of a smoker lighting a cigarettePfizer markets varenicline as Chantix in the U.S. and Champix in Canada and the rest of the world. According to Pfizer it is not a "magic cure" as roughly 4 of 5 users in clinical studies relapsed to smoking within a year, half doing so after completing 12 weeks of varenicline use. Relapse while using the latest pharmacology product can be extremely disheartening. Where is the smoker to turn who has tried and failed after using the latest quit smoking product modern science has to offer?

According to Pfizer, 3 million Americans have now received Chantix prescriptions. If real-world effectiveness is as high as clinical trial efficacy at one year (22%), a feat which has not occurred with any prior quitting product (see WhyQuit's Chantix review), at least 2.3 million Chantix users will relapse to smoking. If repeat Chantix user performance parallels findings from repeat nicotine replacement therapy use, second-time varenicline users may find their odds of success dramatically diminished. If true, where do they turn now?

What all failed Chantix and Champix users should ask themselves is, what lesson did I learn by using varenicline, what did the experience actually teach me? Hopefully they discovered the true power of just one puff of nicotine after varenicline use ends. But in that Pfizer's Chantix marketing actually tells potential users that "it's ok" to "slip" while using it -- which may actually promote a lack of respect for the brain dopamine explosion they can expect with smoked nicotine once varenicline is no longer present and blocking receptor sites -- probably very little and maybe even the wrong lesson.

Yes, for those lucky enough to fully avoid, endure or get past experiencing one or more of the 165 potential side-effects listed on Pfizer's Full "Prescribing Information" sheet [OUTDATED WARNING - FOR HISTORICAL REFERENCE ONLY - NOT FOR CHANTIX USERS], the early experience of taking a puff yet not sensing the normal and expected dopamine "aaah" explosion 8 to 10 seconds later is fascinating. But what did you actually learn about your brain's chemical dependency and arresting that dependency?

I wish there were a way to burn the following mantra into the brain of every smoker who dreams of freedom: knowledge is power, knowledge truly is a quitting method, knowledge can set and keep me free!

Truth be known, the true drug addict will never be stronger than their chemical but then they don't need to be as, like table salt, it is simply a chemical with an IQ of zero. Nicotine cannot think, plan, plot or conspire and is not some demon that dwells within. The drug addict's greatest weapon is and always has been their vastly superior intelligence but only if put to work.

Why can smokers skip breakfast and even lunch without feeling hunger pains? How does nicotine physically feed them? Why might caffeine carry twice the punch after ending nicotine use? What is the law of addiction? How long does a crave episode last and why is meeting, greeting and defeating all conditioned crave triggers a good thing, not bad? What is nicotine's half-life in human blood serum, why should you care, and how long before it's out of your system? When should you expect peak withdrawal? What about alcohol use, sleep disruption, anger, bargaining, depression, crutches, crave coping techniques, cessation time distortion, setting quitting dates, and overcoming those pesky, lingering thoughts of wanting to smoke?

Why continue to fight and battle in ignorance and darkness when you can turn on the lights, and see exactly where you stand in relation to your adversary? Like trying to land a plane without putting the wheels down, it can be done but why try? You may want to build a skyscraper but not knowing how could make the task far more challenging than need be.

Yes, it is possible that your next quitting attempt may produce what seems like a brief "train wreck" of emotions (although not necessarily) but understanding the wreck and why it is good, not bad, brings potential to destroy needless fears and anxieties.

The Internet is loaded with empowering education oriented resources. WhyQuit is the Internet's most visited nicotine dependency education site. There, those who smoke, chew or dip nicotine will find what is probably the Internet's largest library of original quitting articles, a free quit smoking book, nicotine cessation tips, more than 60 video counseling lessons and education oriented online peer support, on Facebook too. Keep your money in your pocket. WhyQuit is totally free, sells nothing, is staffed entirely by volunteer nicotine cessation educators, and actually declines donations.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a quitting method. Don't lose hope. Instead, give turning on the lights a try!


No Copyright - This Article is Public Domain

John R. Polito is solely responsible for the content of this article. Any factual error will be immediately corrected upon receipt of credible authority in support of the writer's contention. E-mail comments to john@whyquit.com

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Written October 18, 2005 and updated June 7, 2015 by John R. Polito