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Stop smoking medication: Varenicline (brand name Champix)

Champix is a stop smoking medication that is taken as a tablet. It must be prescribed by your doctor. Talk to your doctor to see whether Champix is suitable for you.

How does Champix help?

When you puff on a cigarette, nicotine travels through your lungs, into your bloodstream and to your brain. It attaches to specific receptors which release a brain-reward chemical called dopamine. You get a hit of pleasure.

When you take Champix, it attaches to many of these receptors. This means that when you take Champix: 

  • there is a release of the pleasure chemical dopamine in your brain. It’s not quite the same intensity as a cigarette but it’s spread out over the whole day.
  • you usually get reduced cravings and reduced feelings of withdrawal (such as poor concentration, and feeling frustrated, restless and anxious).
  • if you do have a cigarette, it feels less enjoyable.

How well does Champix work?

Using Champix while also getting support from Quitline (13 7848) gives you one of the best chances of stopping smoking. It more than doubles your chance of quitting. 

How to use Champix

Your doctor and pharmacist will tell you how many tablets to take and for how long.  Always follow their recommendations.

Champix tablets should be swallowed whole with a full glass of water. Champix can be taken with or without food, but taking it with food can reduce nausea.

Use Champix for at least 12 weeks for best results.

Side effects of Champix

Most people that use Champix will have no side effects. The most common side effect is nausea, which affects about three out of 10 people. Nausea is usually mild-to-moderate and fades with time. It may help to take Champix with food. Other possible common side effects include trouble sleeping and vivid dreams. 

Some people may have mood or behaviour changes when taking Champix. It’s important to let family members and close friends know that you are taking Champix. Ask them to look out for any unusual changes in your behaviour or mood. 

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any side effects that concern you.

Where to get Champix

You can get discounted Champix on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). You will need to get a prescription from your doctor that you take to your pharmacist. You can buy Champix on the PBS for up to 24 weeks, once a year.

For more information: talk to your doctor, pharmacist or Quitline.


Please note, this information is not intended to replace consumer medicines information or health professional advice. If you would like to provide feedback, please contact quit@cancervic.org.au.

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