Three weeks of fury, or: binning the cigs with Champix

(This is an advert for Champix, with the tagline "Life without cigarettes? You'll barely notice the difference". If ads were true, it'd be "you'll be fat and furious".)

Not something I thought I’d ever blog but: I haven’t had a cigarette for three weeks. I’d love to regale you about how I feel great, but I don’t. I’d love to talk about the dramatic improvements to my health, but I haven’t noticed any. I’d love to talk about how I’m sleeping better, but I’m not. In fact, as far as I can tell the only difference not-smoking has made to my life is that I’m even angrier and fatter than usual, and I can’t concentrate on anything at all.

Anyway. The reason for this post is because I’d mentioned stop-smoking “miracle drug” Champix (Chantix in the US) before, and suggested that it made me miserable – although I wasn’t sure, because the last time I took it I’d just become a parent for the first time. I think now I can confidently say that it was new-parent sleep deprivation that made me miserable, not Champix, because it’s been a real help for me this time round. I did some digging and discovered that last time, I started taking it four days after Baby Bigmouth was born and stopped taking it on day seven (you’re supposed to take it and then bin the cigs on day eight to ten), so I never gave it a chance – and I wasn’t really taking it long enough to have any significant side-effects.

So now I’ve given it a decent go, here’s what I think of the supposed miracle drug.

* It’s not a miracle drug. Of course it isn’t.

* It works, to an extent. It won’t stop you smoking, but it does seem to dial down the cravings a bit. That won’t stop you wanting a cigarette with every fibre of your being, but in my experience at least the cravings are less hellish than usual. I haven’t needed nicotine replacements such as patches, gum or inhalators, and so far at least I haven’t cracked and smoked a cigarette at all. Then again, I haven’t been in the pub without a chaperone yet, so maybe house arrest deserves the credit.

* I’ve no idea whether it reduces your desire to smoke or your enjoyment of smoking before your quit date. I didn’t notice any difference.

* It makes you sick as a dog. Without fail I feel really ill for about half an hour after taking each tablet, sometimes longer. It’s worse if you take the pill on an empty stomach.

* It might make your eyes go funny. I’ve been getting blurred vision for the last few days, which is quite unbelievably annoying.

* If you don’t want to stop, don’t take it. It’s not cheap to prescribe, and doctors round here at least aren’t keen on giving it to you just for a laugh. If this isn’t your time to stop, there’s no point doing the Champix thing – because when it is the right time, your GP may look at your records and go “hmm, we’ve been here before. Sorry, no.” My GP has given me a month’s supply but it’s being dispensed weekly, so I have to prove to the chemist I’m still off the cigs before getting any more drugs.

* Some of the listed side-effects could just be from smoking, especially depression and anger. For 20-odd years, every time I’ve been pissed off I’ve had a cigarette. Now, what the hell do I do? I’ve been in a state of mild fury with the odd outbreak of incoherent rage for three weeks now, and I suspect that’s because of the not-smoking rather than the Champix.

* The recommended prescription period seems awfully long – 12 weeks. Given that nicotine’s out of your body within a few days, three months of anti-cig drugs seems designed more for the drug company’s benefit than the ex-smoker’s or the NHS’s benefit. Maybe I’m just cynical.

* Champix might not be a good idea at all. Pharmalot sums up the downsides and apparent dangers:

Chantix is suspected of causing a “wide spectrum of injuries,” including serious accidents and falls, potentially lethal cardiac rhythm disturbances, severe skin reactions, acute myocardial infarction, seizures, diabetess, psychosis, aggression and suicide, the authors write. The findings prompted the Federal Aviation Adminstration to ban pilots and air traffic controllers from using the drug.

Incidentally, the picture at the top of this post is a Champix ad by Pfizer. The strapline is “Life without cigarettes? You’ll barely notice the difference.” Presumably “Life without cigarettes? You’ll be a fat, furious bastard” wasn’t positive enough.Сувенири





0 responses to “Three weeks of fury, or: binning the cigs with Champix”

  1. I’d never have spotted the loss of concentration… ahem

  2. Gary

    I’m also very aggressive. And I have your home address.

  3. Fatter I can believe, but angrier? And cynical now too?

  4. It’s tough going cold turkey when one has been addicted to a drug for as long as you have.

    Rewards help (or they helped me), not little treats but big things that you always said you’d want to have but could never afford.

  5. Gary

    Sadly I’m not in a financial position to treat myself to anything more than the odd bit of cheese :(

  6. gbarl

    Well done.

    Feeling angry and what do you do now? Exercise. Seriously -you’ll feel less angry and generally happier. I’m sure that’s a medical fact, just can’t provide a URL.

    Don’t like the idea? Tough – just man up and do it. :) Or get a Wii Fit to help make it fun.

  7. Gary

    Yeah, I’ve been going to the gym a fair bit recently, which obviously helps address the getting-fat thing. Biggest problem I’ve got at the moment is tiredness. It’s a side-effect from the Champix yet again, but it means even after a solid 8 hours sleep I’m utterly knackered. I feel like a new parent all over again.

  8. Gary

    Sod’s law: since posting this blog entry I’ve been craving cigs like a crazy craving thing.

  9. Andy McGarry

    Do you have a goal for all the money you’ll save? That might help.

  10. Gary

    Sadly not. Money’s just been rerouted to everyday things.

  11. Gary

    28 days today. Yay me.

    Also: I feel like crap.

  12. Oh cheer up. You had me shouting out loud in a cafe at lunchtime. When you said you were going to quote me, I didn’t think it would be on page 14!

  13. Gary

    Was it a cheery shout or an angry one?

  14. In true Glaswegian style, both.

  15. Gary

    Oh no! Email me if I’ve been an arse.

  16. Seriously, I enjoyed it. Getting a wee bit of a traffic boost as a result too.

    The funny thing is that I also have a question in the Q&A bit (the yellow pages towards the back), so I’m in it twice!

  17. pointer2null

    “Presumably “Life without cigarettes? You’ll be a fat, furious bastard” wasn’t positive enough”

    That made me laugh.

    I’m planning to give up 1st July so will have to see if I end up the same

  18. Gary

    Good luck!

  19. Made me laugh. I’m 4 weeks a non-smoker and getting fatter by the day. I’ve cut my dose down today to see if I can stay awake longer in the evenings and not eat quite so much. Are you still given up?

  20. Gary

    Three years now, and working on the weight too :) you’re through the hard bit now, I promise.