Champix

Champix (varenicline) is a treatment to help people to stop smoking. The treatment is a 12 week course of tablets which can help to relieve the craving and withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking. During the first two weeks of taking Champix, you will continue to smoke. Most people set their quit date between day 10-14 of taking Champix.

Champix reduces the effects of nicotine. You are the not recommended to smoke after your quit date, but if you do, Champix can reduce the enjoyment you feel from smoking cigarettes.

Please note: Champix is not the same as nicotine replacement therapy.

Am I suitable for Champix?

Champix is suitable for people who are motivated to give up smoking, but have not yet been successful.

Who should not take Champix?

In general Champix (varenicline) is considered to be a safe medication for most people. Some caution should be taken in certain patients, particularly those with mental health problems. People with following conditions should not take varenicline:

  • Those who are under the age of 18 
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • People with severe kidney failure
  • People with certain mental health problems

If you are pregnant or allergic to any of the ingredients of Champix you should not take it. If you are breastfeeding, you should ask your doctor of pharmacist for advice before taking Champix. 

How do I take Champix?

The usual dose is 1mg Champix twice a day following a one week titration as follows:

Week 1 Days 1-3 0.5mg tablet once a day
Days 4-7 0.5mg tablet twice a day
Week 2-12 Day 8 until end of treatment 1mg tablet twice a day

Your doctor may recommend a different dose if, for example, you experience adverse effects that you cannot tolerate or if you have problems with you kidneys.

Champix tablets should be swallowed whole, with water, and can be taken with or without food.

Should I stop smoking as soon as I take Champix?

No. Before starting your course of Champix you should decide on a date in the second week of treatment (between day 8 and day 14) when you will stop smoking. You should write this date on the pack as a reminder.

Is taking the treatment all I need to do?

No. Although Champix makes giving up smoking easier, it is no substitute for willpower. You are unlikely to be able to give up smoking while taking Champix unless you are motivated to do so.  

What should I do if I miss a tablet?

Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten tablet. It is important that you take Champix regularly at the same time each day, but if you forget to take a dose you should take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the tablet that you have missed. It is also important to keep your appointment card up to date, to ensure that you don’t end up without your next prescription.

Is it dangerous to smoke while taking Champix?

No. For the first 1-2 weeks of Champix treatment, you can carry on smoking. Continuing to smoke after your ‘quit date’ is not dangerous but will mean that you are less likely to quit successfully. Although you are not recommended to smoke while taking treatment, Champix can also reduce the enjoyment of cigarettes if you do smoke when on treatment.

Possible side-effects: 

Giving up smoking with or without treatment can cause various symptoms including changes of mood (like feeling depressed, irritable, frustrated or anxious), sleeplessness and difficulty concentrating, decreased heart rate and increased appetite or weight gain.

The most common side-effect associated with Champix is nausea. Other common side effects include headache, difficulty sleeping and abnormal dreams.

Champix may produce dizziness and sleepiness. You should not drive, operate complex machinery or engage in any other potentially hazardous activities until you know whether this medication affects your ability to perform these activities.

For some people, stopping smoking with or without treatment has been associated with an increased risk of experiencing changes in thinking or behaviour, feelings of depression and anxiety and can be associated with worsening of psychiatric illness. If you have a history of psychiatric illness you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

Depressed mood may appear during smoking cessation with or without treatment. Depression, rarely including suicidal thoughts and suicide attempt, has been reported in patients undergoing a smoking cessation attempt, including those using Champix. If these symptoms persist when you stop taking Champix your doctor should continue to monitor you closely until you are feeling better.

Champix should be discontinued immediately if you are concerned about agitation, depressed mood or changes in your behaviour, or if you develop suicidal ideation or suicidal behaviour. 

If you are worried about any of the side effects or if they become serious or if you notice side effects not in the package leaflet, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Can I take Champix with my other medications? 

Champix is not expected to affect the way other drugs or medication work. Stopping smoking with or without Champix may alter the way some medications work – consult your doctor before commencing treatment to be sure.