Using Drugs to Quit Smoking

It has been established by the medical fraternity the world over that nicotine dependency is detrimental to your health, and this is the foremost reason that many smokers want to quit smoking. Quitting isn’t easy for most people and often they make several attempts before they finally kicking the smoking habit, but many fail even after repeated attempts.

There are a wide range of strategies and products available to help you quit smoking, but there is no fixed ‘cure’ that works for everyone. While some people manage to quit using behavioural modification therapy, some use nicotine replacements (such as chewing gum, lozenges, sprays, patches, etc.), and some manage to quit without the use of any products or techniques, commonly referred to as going ‘cold turkey’.

There also been a plethora of medical products that have become available to help smokers wean off the habit. Of course none of the drugs guarantee that you will quit smoking, but they can help increase the possibility. For people who’ve been unsuccessful using other methods, stop smoking drugs such as ‘Zyban’ or ‘Chantix’ could be the answer.

The Role of Dopamine in Smoking Addiction:
Nicotine is known to activate a similar ‘reward system’ associated with other drugs such as amphetamine or cocaine, albeit as a lesser level. According to research, nicotine works by increasing dopamine levels (a chemical in the brain which is responsible for ‘well-being’ and ‘pleasure’ feelings), and since the nicotinic effect wears off quite soon, a smoker feels the urge to smoke again. Varenicline Tartrate works by blocking nicotine from activating the nicotine receptors, thereby preventing dopamine stimulation. Bupropion Hydrochloride inhibits the reuptake of dopamine (amongst other chemicals found in the brain), and this results in the availability of more dopamine in the system.

Varenicline Tartrate (Chantix):
Chantix has received the American FDA’s approval and is made available to adults who want to quit smoking, although one needs a prescription for this drug that was introduced into the market by Pfizer Inc. Chantix has no nicotine, but is known to act upon the brain receptors which come into play when nicotine enters the system. The use of Chantix starts a week before the smoker stops smoking, and the general course runs for about twelve weeks. It can have a relatively high cost, but of course the cost of Chantix pales in comparison to the savings that would result if you do manage to successfully kick the smoking habit.

Effects of the Chantix Drug:
Chantix is known to stimulate areas in the brain referred to as ‘nicotinic acetylcholine receptors’ which are influenced by nicotine. This, in turn, produces an effect similar to that produced by nicotine. Additionally, Chantix can also help override the effects produced by nicotine when a smoker smokes after being on this medication. Since Chantix is designed to activate a smoker’s nicotine receptors partially, it can help in reducing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that are generally linked with quitting smoking. And since it also brings down the sense of satisfaction that smoking produces, it can also help prevent chances of a relapse. A large number of Chantix users are of the opinion that while on Chantix smoking is nowhere near as pleasurable as it used to be.

Possible Side Effects of Using Chantix:
The side effects associated with the use of Chantix can include a change in dreaming patterns, constipation, gas, nausea, and vomiting. Chantix is not recommended to people who suffer from any chronic medical condition and isn’t recommended for women who are either pregnant or breast-feeding.

Bupropion Hydrochloride (Zyban, Wellbutrin)
Commonly referred to as Bupropion Zyban and Bupropion Wellbutrin, this is a drug that is generally used to treat depression. However, this drug has also been successfully used by people trying to quit smoking. Often referred to as generic ‘Zyban’ and ‘Wellbutrin’, these are actually brand names of the generic drug Bupropion Hydrochloride. Also, while this drug is not recommended to all smokers who need help in quitting smoking, it can help in reducing the discomforts that are linked with the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine dependency. At times, it is prescribed to people who have failed in their previous quit smoking attempts.

When this drug is used to quit smoking, a 150 mg dose is taken once a day for around three days, and if the patient is able to tolerate the dose, then the dosage is subsequently increased. After being on this drug for two weeks, the patient is asked to discontinue smoking. And even though one can buy Zyban online, seeking a doctor’s advice before walking this path is always suggested.

Contraindications:
The use of this drug is not suggested to people who suffer from eating disorders (anorexia & bulimia), to people who suffer from epilepsy, to people who use MAO inhibitors (psychosis drugs), and to people who have recently stopped using ethanol and/or sedatives such as Valium and Xanax. It should be used with particular care (and preferably under medical supervision) in people who use drugs to minimize the risk of seizures (these include all drugs under the phenothiazine class, as well as chlorpromazine and prochlorperazine). Using this drug is not recommended if you have just stopped drinking as well.

Zyban/Wellbutrin Side Effects:
The side effects associated with the use of Zyban/Wellbutrin include headaches, insomnia, dizziness, dry mouth, agitation, as well as change in dietary patterns. Seizures, although uncommon, can also occur.

Conclusion:
In a recent study conducted by experts at ‘Consumer Reports’ which involved more than a thousand subjects, three different quit smoking methods were studied. These included the use of Varenicline Tartrate, Bupropion Hydrochloride, and lastly, a placebo. While the use of Varenicline Tartrate showed success in 23% of the subjects, Bupropion Hydrochloride was successful with 14% of the subjects, and the placebo helped 10% of the subjects in quitting smoking.

This only goes to show that guaranteed success cannot be expected by any quit smoking method, and one needs to figure out which method will work in each individual case. Also important to note is that experts opine that Varenicline Tartrate (Chantix) and Bupropion Hydrochloride (Zyban and Wellbutrin) should not be used together to increase the possibility of quitting smoking as this combination could be quite dangerous. And if you do intend to use either of these drugs, seeking professional medical advice at the onset in advised.