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Quitting medication

Research studies show that Champix can more than double your chance of quitting, and Zyban nearly doubles your chance.

Medications will not stop all cravings entirely but they will work on nicotine addiction. This makes it easier for you to focus on habits and routines; stress and smoking; and social situations and alcohol

Take the nicotine addiction test to see if you would benefit from quitting medications.

Remember, the most effective way to quit is:

Coaching   +   Nicotine Replacement Product or Quitting Medication (Champix/Zyban)

Champix (varenicline)

Champix works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and by reducing the satisfying effects of smoking. When you puff on a cigarette, nicotine travels through your lungs and into your bloodstream to your brain. There it attaches to receptors to release the brain-reward chemical, dopamine. Champix blocks these receptors and causes a release of a smaller but steadier amount of dopamine.

Usage

Champix is a 12-week course. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week and to set a quit date for some time in the second week. As the dose builds up, cigarettes will start to be less desirable. It will be easier to cut down before quitting in the second week. It’s important to take Champix for the full 12 weeks even if you’re feeling quite confident. Even after regular cravings have faded, staying on Champix can help prevent relapse.

Side Effects

Most people on Champix will have no side effects. The most common side effect is nausea, affecting about three out of 10 people. This may be eased by taking Champix with food or your doctor may recommend reducing your dose. Nausea is usually mild to moderate and fades with time. Other potential common side effects include having trouble sleeping and vivid dreams (in which case take the second tablet earlier in the day to see if this helps). 

Less common side effects include stomach or bowel problems (e.g. constipation, gas, dry mouth, vomiting, indigestion), headache, dizziness, feeling tired, increased appetite and changes in taste. They are usually mild and they generally appear in the first week of taking the medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any symptoms that concern you.

The risk of serious side effects is very low. These are listed in the pack insert. Some people have reported changes in mood or behaviour when taking Champix. If you have any symptoms you think could be serious stop taking Champix and seek medical advice as soon as possible.

You cannot take Champix if you are under 18, pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have a current mental health condition consult your doctor before you start using any medications.

To read more download the Champix information sheet.

Zyban (bupropion)

Zyban is an anti-craving medication available on prescription to help people stop smoking. Using Zyban can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Zyban may also make smoking seem less rewarding.

Usage

Zyban is a 9-week course. You slowly build the dose up in the first week. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week of Zyban and set a quit date for some time in the second week. It’s important to take Zyban for the full 9 weeks even if you’re feeling quite confident. Even after regular cravings have faded, staying on Zyban can help prevent relapse.

Side Effects

Most people on Zyban will have no side effects. The most common side effects are difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, headache, dizziness, anxiety or nausea. To reduce sleeping problems, it’s best to take your second dose of the day at least four hours before bedtime (but you must leave eight hours between tablets). The most serious side effect is the risk of seizure, which is estimated to occur in about one in 1000 patients (0.1%). Your doctor will ask you a series of questions to determine if you are at risk from seizure. If you have a seizure, stop taking Zyban and seek medical attention immediately.

To read more download the Zyban information sheet.

Nicotine Addiction Test

Take the nicotine addiction test and get advice about the best way to quit.

Your level: Unknown. Complete the test below to find out.

Nicotine Addiction Test
  1. How soon after waking do you smoke your first cigarette?
    How soon after waking do you smoke your first cigarette?
  2. How many cigarettes a day do you smoke?
    How many cigarettes a day do you smoke?

Low dependence

Your answers indicate that you have a low addiction to nicotine. This doesn’t mean you’re safe from getting a smoking related illness. The good news is you may not need nicotine replacement products or quitting medication to quit successfully. However, you may still experience bad cravings. Make sure you consult your doctor, pharmacist or health professional or call the Quitline on 13 7848 for advice.

Habits can trigger cravings. To increase your chance of quitting it helps to work out ways to break your regular habits that involve smoking.

For example:

  • Plan changes in your daily routine to help you adjust to being a nonsmoker. For example, driving or walking a different route to work, or planning a new way to unwind after work, can help stop you thinking about your old smoking habits.
  • It takes about 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full after a meal. Instead of using a cigarette to distract yourself from hunger, try sipping on a drink, or brush your teeth immediately after meals.
  • Take all your normal breaks but with a cup of herbal tea or other drink, instead of a cigarette, or hold your cup in your other hand.
  • Try sitting in a different chair to watch TV, and having a shower as soon as you get up, if these are times you usually smoke.
  • Avoid challenging occasions where there will be plenty of cigarettes available, particularly if there will also be alcohol around.

Low to moderate dependence

Your answers indicate that you have a low to moderate addiction to nicotine. You may be able to quit successfully with some assistance from a good coach (like Quitline) in combination with nicotine replacement products or quitting medication.

Call the Quitline on 13 7848 for advice from a friendly professional.

Habits can also trigger cravings. It will increase your chance of quitting if you work out ways to break your regular habits that involve smoking.

For example:

  • Plan changes in your daily routine to help you adjust to being a nonsmoker. For example, driving or walking a different route to work, or planning a new way to unwind after work, can help stop you thinking about your old smoking habits.
  • It takes about 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full after a meal. Instead of using a cigarette to distract yourself from hunger, try sipping on a drink, or brush your teeth immediately after meals.
  • Take all your normal breaks but with a cup of herbal tea or other drink, instead of a cigarette, or hold your cup in your other hand.
  • Try sitting in a different chair to watch TV, and having a shower as soon as you get up, if these are times you usually smoke.
  • Avoid challenging occasions where there will be plenty of cigarettes available, particularly if there will also be alcohol around.

Moderate dependence

Your answers indicate that you have a moderate addiction to nicotine. You will benefit from professional advice. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health professional about using nicotine replacement products or quitting medication to help you quit, and make sure you call the Quitline on 13 7848.

You will also need to work out ways in which you can break your smoking habits, and manage your routines.

Think about when, where and why you smoke.

Being in some situations after you have quit can trigger cravings. Knowing what makes you want to smoke can help you plan how to deal with trigger situations when you're quitting.

  • If you usually smoke when you first wake up, have a shower instead.
  • If you smoke when you're drinking, switch to non-alcoholic drinks for a while.

Emotions like stress, anger, sadness or frustration might make you feel like smoking. Try to work out ways to deal with these feelings.

  • If you usually smoke when you're stressed, try using a stress ball instead or talk to someone about it.
  • If you reward yourself with a cigarette, relax with a hot drink, have a night out with friends or buy your favourite magazine instead.

High dependence

Your answers indicate you have a high addiction to nicotine, but this shouldn’t be barrier to quitting. Speak to your doctor about using nicotine replacement products or quitting medication and seek support like the Quitline 13 7848.

If you are addicted and use nicotine replacement products or quitting medications properly, they can reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability and mood swings. You can greatly increase your chances of successfully quitting.

If you have a high dependence you may benefit from combination therapy, which means using an approved combination of two types of nicotine replacement products.

Make sure to consult your doctor, pharmacist or health professional about what might suit you.

Using a good coach such as the Quitline is also highly recommended.