Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chantix and Me

The recent articles on Chantix as a smoking cessation medication have reported negative side effects and may well be valid, for some individuals. I, for one, am an exception to that situation. I had to arm twist(figuratively) my doctor to write me a prescription for it because I had been smoking for over 20 years, was tired of coughing, tired of wheezing in bed trying to sleep, tired of the cost, and tired of stinking of tobacco all the time! I started the program (without using any of the support services they offer customers) on May 5th of 2007. I wanted a date to easily remember (Cinqo de mayo). I followed the instructions on the starter pack and by the end of the first week I no longer had a desire to smoke. I had no craving for a cigarette. I had no food cravings or other oral substitutions to replace the cigarette, and most importantly I had no indication of ANY withdrawal at all! None, Nada, Nicht, Nyet! Since that date my doctor still asks me how many cigarettes I'm down to because my blood pressure and blood chemistry look so much better. I give him the same answer I gave him when I went back for the second refill prescription - none! I took the Chantix for 8 weeks and stopped because I felt I was past the worst of it(missing the habit of lighting up) and had no desire for a smoke at all. This coming Cinqo de Mayo of 2010 will be my 3rd anniversary of being smoke free. Another benefit I realized from being on the Chantix was that I could stand in the middle of a group of smokers and feel NO compunction to light up, even just one.

There is one requirement to being on Chantix and being successful with it! This is a very important item now and you must pay close attention if your planning on opting for this route! I have seen a few friends fail the Chantix program because they didn't have this one requirement firmly in place. Ready for the answer? It's an easy one that has a higher failure rate if not seriously considered.

You deep down have to WANT to quit smoking. You need a reason that is important to you to keep in your mind that wants you to quit. Mine was coughing when trying to laugh, wheezing, shortness of breath doing simple physical tasks, high blood pressure and all of that while entering my 50's. I don't want to die! I want to live! The cigarettes were going to kill me before I was ready to go and I want to live as long as I can, without oxygen tanks or riding in scooters or having chemo tubes hanging out of me!

I want to point out to anyone who may feel apprehensive about taking Chantix after reading the Stephen King version of side effects. The government requires ALL reported effects to be listed, even if the product didn't cause it because the treatment was in place and it was considered relevant to be reported as raw data.

I did not have ANY side effect that was listed, or unlisted, during the time I took this medication. I'm not from the planet Krypton, I'm not bionic, and I don't attend Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry! I am an average Joe who achieved success in my desire to quit smoking everything. I felt GREAT while I took it and felt the benefits soon afterward while my system was weening the nicotine out of my brain and bloodstream and tissues. I've been able to lose weight and not feel a replacement habit to be in order and I'm able to list myself as smoke free for insurance purposes now, which also saves money!

If anyone has ANY questions about Chantix and would like my take on it just leave a comment and I'll be happy to help. To set the record straight, I don't work for Pfizer (makers of Chantix) and I'm not being compensated for this article. They are just my honest thoughts that I wanted to share with anyone who may be interested, especially since the negativity that surrounds Chantix may not be coming from health related sources entirely. There are some that will lose revenue if too many people stop smoking. You know who they are! Ride em' cowboy!

I will be repeating this article on all my blogs today for full exposure to me varied readers. Please excuse the redundancy for my writing. David.


Diane said...

I am on my 4th week of Chantix. Was smoking 2 packs a day. Then got high blood pressure. Watched salt intake and cut cigs down to 1/2 pack on my own. High blood pressure 1 week later was down 10 points, but had to go on diuretic and MD put me on Chantix. I went from 1/2 pack down to 4-5 cigs then in 4th week stopped...for 3 days...then yesterday I had 7 cigs. I thought why did I do that? When I smoked it tasted REALLY HORRIBLE, but then I would have a few more. Chantix didn't stop cravings, but reduced them a lot. Today I did not light up, but I still have that 1/2 pack at home (I am at work now). Quitting makes me feel like I have multiple personalites: the one who wants to quit, the one who says a couple of cigs won't hurt, the one who says I don't care anymore, and it goes back to the I want to quit smoking personalities that says keep on trying. LOL. So, I renewed prescription for another 4 weeks and hopefully by end of 8 weeks, I will feel comfortable in my quit. If, not I will wait until NicVax comes out (Nabi Pharmaceutical's stop smoking vaccine that's in the final stages of trials and such). Hell, I tried everything short of hypnosis. Anyway, thanks for listening (er...reading).

Dave said...

It sounds like you know you should quit but 'not right now'. Have you hit a low point yet, besides your BP. I've had hypertension since before I started smoking. I hit my low when I was keeping myself awake listening to my lungs wheeze. I decided that I really didn't want to smoke anymore and I think that's what allowed the Chantix to work so well. Maybe your just not ready to quit yet. It's okay. Be comfortable with the decision to quit before you take the plunge. I'm happy I did it when I did and got my lung capacity back along with a quiet nights sleep.

Diane said...

Thanks for responding so quickly. May I had an accodent work where I fell hitting the edge of my chin on the edge of a credenza while filing in my boss's office. I needed cervical spinal fusion and had to fight workers comp to get it. By the time I had my surgery in July, I was having trouble walking because of spinal cord compression. The surgery was a success, thank God, and my sister was in for 2 weeks to help. Turned out she wasn't much help. I lived with my 90 year uncle (who raised me and is like a father to me) and he got deathly ill during my 6-week recovery period and eventually he had to be placed in a nursing home. His condition is that any treatment would make him worse. I had a '96 Neon that sprung a bad gas leak and how I did not blow up while driving it is a miracle. I had to have that fixed so I could shop around for a new car, which I did and bought a Nissan Versa (at least something good was starting to happen). All of this stress was tremendous. Some people would "drown their troubles" in alcohol. Not me....I drowned myself in bacon cheddar cheese burgers with french fries loaded with salt taller than Mount Evarest!...and up to 2 packs a day of smoking....hence the high blood pressure. Not to be a wise ass, I don't know which point was muy l0ow. :) :) That's my story in a nutshell. But quitting cigarettes, I think is my life's battle. Easy for some, but a horrible addiction for me. Whether it's physical or not, I find the psychological part hard to beat.

Dave said...

Wow, that's a series of events for the books. What you've told me about the smoking makes a lot of sense and you've practically come right out and said you don't want to quit....right now at least, and that's okay. They're kind of like a security blanket if you understand what I'm getting at. You've been under some very stressful events in a relatively short period of time and what you've said you 'dove into' were comfort things like the burgers, fries, and cigarettes. As you start to feel your inward and external security firm up you will start to get put off by some of these things you're clinging to. Your subconscious mind tell you indirectly when it's okay to move away from the habits you took up. was a Marlboro smoker for over 20 years and I was 100% done by the end of one week and that was almost 3 years ago. I was ready and I knew it deep down that I was ready to make a change and it happened. It'll happen for you too. Don't stress over it, you'll do it eventually. I have confidence that you can considering what you've said you overcame. This part is nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am about to start chantix for the first time and was hoping to get some advice from anyone, as I too, have internal conflicts and am afraid there is no hope or enough self control to break this habit of 10 years. Also, Im a little concerned about the side affects and other aspects that might result with taking this medication. I currently smoke about 1/2 - 2/3 pack per day but I do not smoke at work and try not to smoke in public. I guess Im a bit of a closet smoker. I tried a hypnotist once and although he never actually hypnotized me, he told me he could not help me and that smoking was a form of meditation for me. I would appreciate any and all advice. thanks

Dave said...

Dear Anonymous,
My first question i Do You Want to Quit or do you feel you should quit? If you feel you should quit, don't bother with the Chantix, it most likely won't work. If you really want to quit and you have good reasons to quit then by all means start the Chantix. I've stated many times here and in other venues that I never had even one side effect from taking Chantix. I smoked between 1-2 packs a day, depending on stress levels, and I was done with tobacco in less than 6 days. I also made sure that I had enough cigs in the house to get me through the end of the week but nothing beyond. This coming May will be 3 years smoke free and I don't bug anyone who does smoke because I think those people are asses who feel they need to preach to others about the dangers of smoking. I quit later than I probably wanted to because I was being bugged about quitting. You quit when you quit so long as you eventually quit. 1/3 to 1/2 pack a day for 10 years is a rookie in my book and you should have no issues so long as you follow directions and if you do happen to notice anything out of the ordinary just give your doctor a ring and ask about it. The bottom line is that it's far more dangerous to continue to smoke than it is to take this medicine for the short time it will take to change your life for the better. Everybody is different, I took Chantix for 2 months instead of the three because I felt it was alright, maybe that's why I never had any issues, maybe not. I'm sorry to say I feel bad about the people I offended by my smell while I smoked. When you've quit for a few months and your senses come back, as they will, you will know what I mean when you get near a smoker. Just remember, you used to smell that way too! The best three things that will happen are that you get back;
1. sense of smell that you lost whether you knew it or not,
2. sense of taste, that's right!,
3. your lost lung capacity! They're good reasons to stay quit!