What is Champix?
Champix is a prescription medication that helps to manage cravings and other withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking.
It’s a tablet you take every day, and it’s given in 12 week courses. When you successfully stop smoking while taking it, a clinician may give you another 12 week course after the first one, just to make sure the job is completely done.
Before you start taking it, you’ll decide on a date where you stop smoking. This is usually between day 8 and 14 of treatment. You’ll start on a lower dose for the first few days and gradually build up to a maintenance dose by day 15.
Champix isn't available currently. But there is an alternative called Zyban that works in a similar way to help people quit.
How does Champix work?
Champix works by blocking the receptors in the brain that are affected by nicotine. This means nicotine no longer produces the ‘feel good’ hormone response of dopamine.
With nicotine being blocked, the short term pleasurable effects from smoking which cause cravings are prevented. This makes it easier to avoid smoking until the cravings pass and you can consider yourself a non-smoker.
And if you do smoke while taking Champix, it doesn’t produce the same feeling in the brain, so it helps to make smoking less appealing.
How effective is Champix?
Clinical studies have shown that Champix is effective at helping people quit. People taking it were almost three times more likely to have abstained from smoking after a year of starting it, compared with a placebo. It’s also been found to be more effective than nicotine patches at promoting abstinence during treatment, and at one year following treatment.
Champix can be particularly helpful if you've tried other ways of quitting smoking before but these have been unsuccessful. By managing the cravings and reducing the withdrawal symptoms — the things that most people find difficult when quitting smoking — it increases your chances of success. You’ll still need some degree of willpower, but it can give you that extra bit of breathing space to get through the most difficult moments.
Some research also suggests that combining counseling with stop smoking treatments can help to further increase your chances of successfully quitting.