The Champix Chronicles

So I started taking champix 21 days ago, hard to believe that it’s already been that long!  Here’s a quickie break down of how this actually works:

First you pick your quit date, somewhere between day 8 and day 14 from the first day you start taking Champix.

Day 1-3 you take one pill, once a day.  .5 mg of varenicline tartrate AKA as Champix.

Day 4-7 you take 2 .5 mg pills twice a day.  Once in the morning and once at night.

Day 8-14 is when your dosage doubles to 1mg twice a day.  This is also the time period that you pick your quit date.  I decided on October 11th to be my quit date.  It was the Tuesday after the long weekend, I’d have work to keep me occupied and so forth, sounded good right?

Sure did in hindsight…

Except I didn’t factor in PMS.  This obviously doesn’t apply to guys but trying to quit smoking during that time was likely the WORST idea I have ever had!  I made it through one day and one day only.  I just couldn’t take it, I don’t know if it was job related stress, the fact that you can’t fix stupid, my hormones or whatever the hell was going on.  So I caved and bought a pack of smokes the next day.  I hated myself for it and it kind of freaked me out.  I thought to myself, what if this doesn’t work?  How screwed am I going to be?

So I thought well maybe I just needed a few more days to give the pills some more time to work, everyone is different.  So I didn’t berate myself too much, especially since I found myself smoking a lot less.  As in a pack would last me 3 days which isn’t the norm for me at all.  So I had hope and on Sunday October 16th at around 10:30pm I smoked my last cigarette and haven’t looked back since.

I did a lot of preparation work in the meantime.  I’ve been researching this drug for over two years now.  I would advise not to pay attention to the online reviews, people love nothing more then to jump on a bandwagon, especially when it’s something negative.  Yes this drug can have some nasty and quite scary side effects.  Psychotic behavior, suicidal thoughts and or feelings and depression being the three most scariest (in my book) of side effects.  Mind you, these could happen as a result of not smoking period.  Although Champix does ‘mess’ with your mind in a neurological sense so it’s entirely possible.  However it’s not a common side effect in most people and yes I did take all of that into consideration before I started taking this drug.  Hostility comes with the territory of not smoking period, in any case I pretty much get away with being a bitch because I can blame it on my medication 😉

I also prepared my body for it as well.  Nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, gas, abnormal/vivid dreams (rarely nightmares), sleepiness…  You know, the usual.  Because you know what?  Every time I’ve tried to quit smoking, I’ve had some of these issues.  So to combat any side effects I had a chat with my pharmacist and I was advised not to worry about getting any anti nausea medication however to offset it, I was advised however to drink lots of water (which I do now, more then I think I ever have) and to take my pill just after a meal.  I found this helped a lot and the only time I felt a little nastiness was when I didn’t eat and even having something small helped offset the nausea.  As for headaches, well I work in a day care so I’m not entirely sure if that’s due to champix or not.  Most of them are low grade and if they get too bad, I have advil handy just in case.  I also eat a lot better as well, it was suggested in the literature that came with the medication that you beef up your fiber in take, makes sense.  So I basically cut all the bad crap out of my diet, I don’t mind most things whole wheat anyway and anything that I do usually comes in an ‘enriched’ version that has all the benefits so there’s no excuse really.

Anyway enough of my blathering on about this.  Here’s the pro’s & the cons of being on Champix (at least for me)

Cons: Side effects can be a bitch sometimes.  Dreams are beyond odd, but manageable just the same.  Headaches, well I always seem to have one of those too.  That’s pretty much it though, just need to be mindful of the changes your body is going through and likely best not try and wean yourself off of anything else just yet or you’ll most likely pay dearly.  That was an accident I had yesterday by having nothing with Caffeine and almost no sugar.  I had a migraine so bad that I barfed.  Coffee machine is broken (of course) and I have no money until Thursday (of course).  I thought well it can’t hurt right? Yeah no I was about 15 levels of wrong on that one!  Oh and the coughing fits and the sore throat…  Those are extra fun!  There is also little to nothing you can do about them either until they go away.  Your sinus cavities are going to drip constantly and make the back of your throat feel slimey and your nose runs pretty much All. The. Time.  Coughing?  Not a pretty sight, especially when you’re recovering from the flu and you start coughing hacking so hard that you yarf to the point that it would make the excorsist jealous.  Except that ain’t pea soup it’s a combination of phlegm, mucous and bile all rolled into one delightful, projectile vomit package.  This of course happened at work, why wouldn’t it?  Your sense of smell improves.  Why is this a con you ask?  Ever been in Montreal’s metro system?  You develop a new appreciation for breathing through your mouth and NOT your nose.

Pro’s:

  1. You’re saving an ass-load of money!  I can’t speak for everyone but my habit alone ran me about $216.00/month.  That’s 2 hours of tattoo work with my Montreal guy and a lot more with my Ontario one.
  2. You don’t smell like a dirty ashtray anymore.  Doesn’t matter how much stuff you slather on to smell nice, that cigarette smoke over-powers it.
  3. Things taste better, a lot better.  You also cut down on things like salt and sugar because you notice it a lot more without having to add more.  Although I have discovered that there’s a few things I don’t like the taste of anymore.  Not a big deal really.
  4. If you have nerve damage or bad circulation (which I do) you’ll notice that get’s better as well, which is a nice plus.
  5. You’re no longer paying out the ass in ‘tobacco’ tax either, one less contribution that you have to make to the government.
  6. Champix is usually covered by insurance or the province.  In my case the RAMQ does cover it and the starter pack (two weeks worth) cost me $28.00 plus the existing cost of my cigarettes so about $70.00 roughly (I’m guesstimating here) and since my payable goes down every time I get a prescription filled my continuation pack only cost me $18.00 and I haven’t smoked since.

Now don’t get me wrong, you still have to want to quit and on occasion you’re still going to have cravings.  However the actual nicotine withdrawal should only last you 76 hours MAX.  After that, there is no more nicotine in your system and from that point it’s psychological.  It’s a habit, so in order to break this one, you need to create another one.  It’s amazing the things that you associate with smoking and before I decided to quit, I changed up my routine in small ways.  Taking different routes to and from work and eliminating cigarettes that I knew that I didn’t need.  It does help.

I’ve been lucky with the side effects not getting to me too badly, although I know a few people have had problems with the drug.  However they’re all men and men are notorious for NOT reading instructions or directions and I’m willing to bet that if they did, they just *might* have had an easier time with it.  But who am I to say?

4 thoughts on “The Champix Chronicles

  1. avatar Ali Marie says:

    You are totally my inspiration. I’ve been trying to quit, but I’ve heard (not researched totally) a lot of crap about Chantix, which is why I haven’t filled my prescription for it. I’ve been kinda afraid of it, honestly. After reading this, I think I called it quits myself. I’ve been off two very hardcore drugs for 7 years now, and I think it’s time to quit something else. I’m allowed.

    • avatar Steph says:

      You know what, I’ve read some insane articles on this drug and it totally put me off for the longest time. I damn well knew I wasn’t mentally ready to handle quitting and the other things that were going on in my life.
      Then one of my closest friends in Ontario tried it and had really positive things to say about it. That was enough for me! I think everyone reacts to it differently and well let’s face it, tales of terror sell better then those ‘feel good’ stories. Besides, the US is known for it’s TORT lawyers, something that we don’t have here. So I think that the pharmaceutical industry get’s shit on a lot in the US.

      It’s been on the market for quite a few years now and I haven’t seen one of those “If you’ve taken this drug, call this number now so that we can nail their asses to the wall! That’s 1-800-going-to-sue! I repeat 1-800-going-to-sue!” 😉

      That’s also a positive sign! As I’ve said before, had some side effects, but nothing I can’t handle because I make sure that I have read all of the instructions and I take it correctly as well.

  2. avatar Krista says:

    Hi. I have just started my third week of Champix and I have to tell u that although I agree with quitting, I am having alot of bad side effects. I suffer from cluster headaches and normally I can control them with Advil but on Champix, Advil is not touching them. I have the sweats, vivid dreams, dry mouth and nausea. I will stick with the program although I feel as though I don’t feel this crappy while smoking, lol. Wish u all luck!!!!!

    • avatar Steph says:

      The side effects are crazy! I have been meaning to update this and sadly haven’t.
      Headaches, the sweats, and a slew of other nasty side effects. Although giving up such a God awful habit makes it worth it in the end!
      It doesn’t last forever 🙂

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