Varenicline- A Pill to Reduce Pleasurable Effects of Nicotine

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Varenicline is a treatment used to help smokers quit the habit of smoking. Varenicline is different from nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as it does not contain nicotine. Instead it contains agents that block nicotine receptors in the brain cells. It helps decrease the body's dependence on nicotine as the brain gives a diminished response to nicotine. Varenicline itself does not cause addiction. It is available as a prescription medication and comes under the brand name of Chantix in the US. In Europe and other parts of the world it is sold as Champix.

Varenicline decreases craving and taste for tobacco products. Since the desire of consuming nicotine reduces, smokers find it easier to quit the habit. Studies have shown that varenicline is more effective than NRT in eliminating cravings.

Varenicline comes as a pill and is to be consumed for a period of 12 weeks. The FDA has approved its use for another 12 weeks if dependence on nicotine has successfully ceased after the treatment.

As with all treatments that seek to remove dependence on smoking, varenicline will work best if supported by counseling and self help techniques.

Recommended use:

Varenicline treatment should start a couple of weeks prior to quitting cigarettes. A 0.5 milligram pill is taken every morning after breakfast for the first 3 days. From the 4th day onwards another 0.5 milligram pill is consumed after dinner. This dosage is continued for a week after which the strength of the two pills is increased to 1 milligram each. Since nausea is a common complaint, users are advised to drink plenty of water along with the pills.

Advantages:

* Varenicline comes in the form of pills and is easy to use and store.
* Since varenicline is a 'nicotinic receptor partial agonist', it creates an aversion in the users towards nicotine and helps them get rid of addiction to tobacco products.
* Varenicline is non-addictive.

Side effects:

* Nausea is a common side effect of varenicline.
* Some less common side effects are vivid dreams in sleep, insomnia and headache.
* Rarely there could be constipation, pain in the abdomen, vomiting and tastelessness.
* Mood disorders like anxiety and depression and unusual patterns of thinking have been reported in some users.

Precautions:

* You should consult a doctor if side effects persist or worsen.
* The prescribed dosage needs to be followed carefully else there could be severe changes in behavior and thinking.
* Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and people below 18 years of age should not consume varenicline.

Brands:

Chantix, Champix