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Varenicline is a pill you take that acts
on sites in the brain affected by nicotine. Like nicotine medicines,
varenicline helps with craving and
withdrawal symptoms. But it also blocks the effects of
nicotine from tobacco. If you start smoking again while taking varenicline, the
medicine lowers the sense of satisfaction you get from smoking, improving the
chances that you will quit. You can take varenicline for 12 weeks longer than other medicines for a total of 24 weeks.
Varenicline does not contain nicotine
and does not help you quit smoking in the same way that nicotine replacement
There are three ways to quit smoking when you take varenicline. These methods are:
Doctors prescribe varenicline to help
adults quit smoking. It is not available as an
has not been studied in children under age 18 and is not recommended to help
them quit smoking.
Varenicline doubles or triples the
chances of quitting smoking.footnote 1 And it may work
better than other medicines for quitting smoking.
Some of the common side effects
Chantix may be linked with a small increase in risk for heart problems (including heart attack). Call your doctor if you have 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.
Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away
if you or someone around you notices that you:
Before you take varenicline, be sure to tell your doctor if
you have ever had a mental illness.
Varenicline is not addictive. Tell your doctor about side effects that
bother you or that do not go away.
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
You start taking varenicline a week or more before you plan to stop smoking. You may notice that you do not get the
same satisfaction from cigarettes during that week. Try not to increase your
smoking to overcome this.
Tell your doctor if you:
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Varenicline (Chantix) for tobacco dependence (2006). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 48(1241/1242): 66-68.
Other Works Consulted
Facts and Comparisons eAnswers (2017). Varenicline tartrate oral. Facts and Comparisons eAnswers. http://fco.factsandcomparisons.com/lco/action/doc/retrieve/docid/fc_dfc/5549495. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Ebbert J, et al. (2015). Effect of Varenicline on smoking cessation through smoking reduction: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 313(7): 687-694. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.280. Accessed online April 26, 2017.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
Current as ofJune 8, 2017
Current as of:
June 8, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine & Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
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