Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do Be Careful Out There On Chantix

Today continues to be Smoke-free Day 114. I did quit by using Chantix (details are throughout this blog in more detail than anyone really needs), and it worked for me pretty much textbook case as it should with few side effects, and for that, I am grateful. I'm not a doctor, pharmacist, pill maker or anyone other than someone sharing my personal experience because that's all I have to share. I can't tell your story, only my own, and our stories can be night and day different, just like I believe that our own paths are different, unique to each of us.

I do love what Chantix has done for me, but I have zero qualms about saying that there are others who have good reason not to love Chantix, and they are becoming more vocal as more folks try Chantix and don't have the same good experience that I and many others do have. I take some of the side effect stuff with a grain of salt, but it's worth at least knowing what some of the rare things are so that I can be on the look out, just in case.

Prescription drugs, particularly newer prescription drugs like Chantix that just came out around Summer 2006, are always a risk, and individuals will react differently to them. Clearly no really long term studies could have been done, so that's another whole issue all its own.

Personally, I read some of the horror stories (there are more), received emails about others, and crossed my fingers that I would be one of the success stories instead. Turns out that so far, that's the case. I do believe absolutely that, unfortunately, a patient needs to do their own research and pay very close attention to both what's being prescribed and what side effects occur. I'm not blaming anyone here, just talking about staying aware in case something headed bad can be stopped before getting worse. If it can't, it can't, and that's super unfortunate. I haven't had a decent enough doctor in many years that I would trust look out for my best interest (sad but true), so it's been up to me to catch their prescription errors and stay on top of what to expect as normal or not normal on any given drug. No, this isn't right, but that's what my experience has been.

Still, for me, I knew where I was headed or feared I was going with smoking health-wise, and I was willing to take a chance with Chantix. Perhaps if I'd experienced some of the really scary side effects I would feel differently about whether it was worth the risk. It's easy to say that it was worth it from my perspective as a success story to this point, and I would still recommend it as on option to discuss with a doctor for anyone seriously wanting to quit smoking but dreading the thought of how damn hard it is.

It does sound like there is at least some reason to pay some very close attention to potential issues with Chantix and do your own research and make your own decisions with your doctor while considering risks like I did. Some will feel it's worth the risk. Others won't.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that I am very happy with my decision to try Chantix and the results that I experienced, but for the love of all things holy, do be careful out there! Please do your own research as much as possible, do trust your feelings if you are experiencing something that doesn't seem quite right beyond normal nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and if you aren't sure whether something is normal, please *do* talk to a trusted doctor if you are lucky enough to have one you can trust (or even one that you don't trust if that's the only option). Sure, I would love it if everyone wanting to be free of nicotine could find the same hope in the form of Chantix that I did, but my heart goes out to those that tried it and experienced horrible things as a result.

I bring all of this up because this article, A Month Later, Carter Albrecht's Chantix Use Is Now a National Cautionary Tale, makes it clear that we will likely be hearing more about Chantix both good and bad, and even People Magazine is talking about Chantix (article is not online, but I'll be buying a copy of the magazine). I've been kind of following along since coming across the earlier article Chantix, Psychotic? on the same site that prompted me to make one of my longer comments on the issue that I've copied below which probably says what I'm trying to say better.

My Comment:
Maggie says:

Somewhere up above Danny said:

"As for the “commenters” on your blog, I see that there are comments from “maggie” who has her own Chantix blog"

I am said Maggie (without quotes, since that's my real name that my parents made up shortly after my birth when I clearly wasn't the Robert they expected), and I did quit smoking on June 18, 2007 using Chantix, and I have been documenting my entire experience on my own blog, which didn't used to be a Chantix blog when I started it a few years back (before Chantix existed) but became largely that (well, in between cooking, tv shows and trying not to tell stories about my cats because people *really* don't want to read that) as I embarked on what I hope to be the last journey I have to take down the road of quitting smoking. I'm still blogging pretty much daily here on Day 101 smoke-free today, 9/28/07, and I would recommend that anyone considering quitting smoking ask their doctor about Chantix if they are interested in an option that could make the quit considerably easier if it works for them the way it did for me (I'd quit over a year previously and other times using various methods). Yes, I sound like the commercial with the "ask your doctor" bit and that it worked for me, but really, I do believe that any and all prescription medication is best taken under the direct care and supervision of a real, live medical doctor. I'm not one.

I personally did not have any serious side effects (some gas and bloating, the good and fun kind of crazy dreams, nausea if you want the details - if not, too late, sorry, there they are, and the rest of the experience has been posted at some point on my blog), and for plenty of folks it seems that Chantix works as intended, and I am grateful.

My heart goes out to anyone attempting to quit smoking only to find that the drug taken to help take that positive step has some negative or even tragic consequence, and I would urge anyone taking any drug, especially a newer drug like Chantix still is, to definitely keep an eye on anything unusual and keep in contact with a doctor, especially if there are other medications or medical issues involved. New drugs are scary in general because it does take time before all of the consequences are known - I could tell you a 1970's prescription drug sob story that has impacted and forever altered my life, but that's a different comment on a different blog for a different day. Still, for me personally, I made a decision to take Chantix under the care of a medical doctor because the risk of health and life issues if I continued to smoke concerned me more than the risk of possible known or unknown side effects of the Chantix my friend said worked for him. This is the decision that I made. This may or may not be the right decision for anyone else, but I am glad that I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater when reading about some of the side effects that others had on Chantix and went ahead and gave it a try because it did work beautifully for me.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this other than to say that when I saw my name in quotes next to the word commenter in quotes, I wanted to show my face, so to speak, as a real live person with no Chantix agenda other than sharing my own experience, but I do try to regularly cheer along anyone blogging about their experience using Chantix to quit smoking because the amount of support that I've received as well as given has helped me tremendously, almost as much as the Chantix, and I'm still smoke-free, thrilled about it and blogging my way through it while sometimes being a "commenter" named "maggie" in various places because I am Maggie, and I do love to comment (which is why I have a blog where I can comment to my heart's content).

Nice to meet you.
Posted at: September 28, 2007 3:11 AM


  1. Ditto, ditto, ditto! EXCELLENT POST, Maggie!

    I did my homework before I took my first Chantix pill. My decision to take it was made with my eyes wide open...I was aware of the good AND the bad and I chose to take it.

    I read the article you mentioned and a few of the comments on the blog. Wow! I can't understand why some folks are so angry! Why are they accusing us of being fakes? What gives? I don't get it. But, yaaay for you, standing up for yourself (and for all us other real Chantix users)! Anyway, I won't be visiting that site's very negative and I get angry vibes. I'm in a good place in my non-smoking life and I avoid drama and negativity... nothing or no one is going to jeopardize my quit!

    I'm sorry that some people had bad Chantix experiences, but I'm NOT sorry I'm taking it. I tolerate it well, with only a couple of minor side-effects, and most importantly, it helped me become a NON-SMOKER!!!!

    As with any drug, people should take Chantix and any prescription drug with caution, at their own risk. I made the personal decision for myself. I don't preach or try to push it on anyone else. Some folks have asked me about it and when they do, I share the truth with my honest opinion. I started my blog to document my personal journey and in the process, I found an awesome support system with other quitters.

    CHANTIX WORKED FOR ME!!! If I sound like a Pfizer employee or a paid actress, o well, so be it. I'm definitely NOT either...if so, I'm sure my paychecks would be much bigger!

  2. Very well said, Maggie. As with any, drug, yeah - Chantix has known (and possibly unknown) side effects and each person's experience will be unique, and it's not the magic pill for every smoker wanting to quit.

    I think part of the problem is that people in general do still want to be able to trust their doctors and trust (to some degree, anyway) the pharmaceutical companies not to prescribe and not to put stuff out on the market that's not 100 percent safe. That's just not reality, and as you point out, we all are taking a risk by using anything that's prescribed. To me, that short-term risk was worth, and outweighed, the risk of my long-term continuance of putting a known toxin with well documented horrific side effects into my body.

  3. Great Post Maggie!
    I've seen (on TV) and read in the paper and on the internet horror stories about people on Chantix but most of the time people mixed being on Chantix with alcohol and for them the mixture was toxic. I'm not a drinker (don't care for the taste).

    For me, Chantix is working and unless something drastic starts up, I won't be leaving this drug anytime soon.
    I do think it's important to listen to the other side however as side effects can begin at anytime.

    Good Luck and Stay Safe!

  4. I had never read the blog you have listed in your post until today (the one about people having problems), geez, I would never have taken Chantix had I read that site prior to starting it.
    My first thought is that these people are experiencing horrible withdrawl and many of them were still smoking after 8 weeks on Chantix - tells me that some people don't want to quit and therefore the Chantix just isn't going to work for them. Most of the "side effects" these people are talking about are nicotine withdrawal symptoms (severe ones). I've had some of the problems they have discussed but haven't thought that much about them (some stomach and chest pain issues), they are not all the time. The biggest issue with me is the head fog and I occasionally have some problems driving.
    When the time comes for me to go off this drug I will ween myself off it slowly. I hope this horrible stuff doesn't happen to me cause I don't want to return to smoking cigarettes ever again.

  5. I really, really appreciate all of the thoughtful comments on this post, and I am very glad that so many of us do have the kind of success intended. Thank you, MsTek, PJ and MamaFlo.

  6. I was an avid Chantix supporter for the three months that I took it. It gave me the power to quit smoking cigarettes. I still remain smoke free at this point!

    I recently just stop taking Chantix on October 21st. I weaned myself off it, intuitively thinking that if I was ceasing to have my nicotine receptors blocked, I would temporarily crave cigarettes and have to deal with the chemical addiction.

    I would not recommend Chantix to my worst enemy after what I have experienced this past weekend. Five days after being completely off the drug something extremely abnormal and traumatizing occurred. After becoming intoxicated I became delusional. Believing that a family member passed away, I became hysterical. Convincing everyone in my immediate company of this made up death, I created quite a scene. I don’t remember my state of mind at this point but I cried for hours and even had others crying also. I then demanded to be alone. My memory is somewhat spotty at this point however I remember glimpses of hallucinations and euphoric feelings following this.

    There are major details missing from this story which I do not wish to share with the world. I can tell you that people in my life that care about me and witnessed this incident are convinced that my behavior was directly related to the drug and alcohol combination, as I am too. It should also be noted that my roommates noticed that I became irritable after I stopped taking the drug. I didn’t think anything of it because I just figured that I was simply dealing with the chemical addiction I mentioned earlier.

    The next morning I woke up not remembering all the details from the day before. I was extremely depressed the entire next day. The following night I slept and had very bad night sweats. Hence I start to search for some answers on the internet and I come to find out that I am not the only one that may be having adverse psychological reactions.

    The scariest thing about this is I don't know how permanent this reaction to alcohol is… seeing how this is occurring 5 days after I stopped taking it. I have not drunk since this incident and don't plan on drinking for some time in the future out of fear.

    I am glad that I am a non smoker however I am concerned about the mysteriousness of what all this drug effects in the human psyche. I know it's serious though and there will be many more stories like this if this drug continues to be sold.

  7. Wow, Anonymous, I am very sorry to hear that you had such a horrible experience. I'm thankful that Chantix worked as intended for me, and I do hope that with time all will be back to normal for you.

  8. This is very interesting to me as I have my (unused) prescription for Chantix and plan on starting it this coming week. One concern is about the alcohol connection. It's approaching the holiday season and I do enjoy having cocktails at events, going out to dinner, I have a wedding to attend, etc. I would hate to think I have to give THAT up along with the smoking. That would make the whole experience too negative, and sure failure. It's like that old joke where the old guy goes to his doctor and wants to live another 50 years because he gave up drinking, smoking, red meat, wine & women, gambling, etc. And after he gets done, the doctor says: "Well, why in the world would you WANT to live another 50 years"??????

  9. Anonymous, I was willing to take the chance since smoking was definitely not good, and I was thrilled with my results and very manageable side effects. Many seem to have done fine drinking alcohol while on Chantix, but if it is a concern, then it might be worth avoiding it. Good luck to you, whatever you decide.


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