One mans fight with his waist line!

Up in smoke, a review of Champix

Posted by Tubby Paul on January 6, 2012

I have been a smoker for a very long time. I think I was around 10 years old when I started, I certainly never remember being a none smoker. For most of that time I have been a steady 20 cigarettes a day man, although there have been times when I have been 60 plus. Over the years I have had several failed attempts at giving up, success varying from just a few hours, to 6 months when my first child was born.

Most of the time I was a smoker, I enjoyed smoking. I knew it was costing me a fortune, my logic to combat this, well you can’t take it with you right? I knew it wasn’t good for my health, on this I varied from the fact I would live for ever, to well you’ve got to die from something! I had been told so many times by so many people the reasons why I should give up, to be honest I was sick to the back teeth of the nagging! Why should I give up when I enjoy it and don’t care about the consequences?

My eldest child was born 9 years ago this month. When she was born I thought I really should give up, so I had my first proper and most successful attempt. I stopped smoking for a total of 6 months, during that time I never ever stopped wanting a cigarette, and for half the time I was still pumping nicotine into my body via the patches.

I have tried multiple times since, on top of patches I’ve used a nicotine inhalator (a plastic cigarette which you put a capsule of nicotine in and suck, tastes disgusting!), nicotine gum (like normal gum only they taste disgusting and burn your mouth), nicotine lozenges (like smints only they taste disgusting and burn your mouth!). I even read Allen Carr’s book “The easy way to stop smoking” (like a normal book, even in taste!) and yes what he said made a lot of sense and inspired me to give up for nearly a whole week!

Now I am getting older, the health benefits of not smoking are much more appealing, also over the last couple of years money has been very tight. Somehow (I’m not quite sure how) I always managed to find money for cigarettes. This wasn’t from disposable income, this was from money that really should of been spent on other things, so to not have to find that will be a real bonus! (I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my beautiful partner and best friend for putting up with me spending all that money over the past few years without nagging me to give up, she is a wonderful person with a saint’s patience!)

So I made an appointment with the Lorna, my local Smoking Cessation specialist who after a chat took a measurement of my carbon monoxide level. I knew it wasn’t going to be good when the lights kept going and going up the side of the gauge! I can’t remember what the reading was, what I do remember is that I was 10 times the level at which they have to evacuate schools! As a farther of 3, this really hit me, in fact, when I got back in my car (and yes, lit another cigarette) I was actually quite emotional. It doesn’t matter how careful you are to not smoke around your kids, just giving them a cuddle afterwards your still affecting them. Anyway, I’ve jumped ahead a little, once we had established my breath was as toxic as a car exhaust (my words, not Lorna’s) we decided that I would start a course of Champix.

Champix is a trade name for the drug Varenicline. It is a drug specifically designed to stop people smoking. It does this by blocking the nicotine receptors in your brain, therefore the cigarette does nothing for you. The course is 12 weeks long, with 1 tablet twice a day. The tablets are well presented, packaged in a 2 week blister pack, marked morning and night for each day of the week. If like me you can never remember even 5 minutes after taking a tablet if you have took it or not, this is very handy, in fact it is the champix packet which is making sure I remember I take my other medication!

The plan is you start the tablets on day one, smoke normally through the first week, and then pick a date in the second week to stop. I picked day 13, popped my first small pill and read the very VERY long list of possible side effects, ranging from nausea, funny dreams etc to suicide (I think one person committed suicide while they happened to be on the drug, so they can’t say it wasn’t a side effect of the drug, well that’s my opinion anyway!) I can safely say that having been on the tablets now for 7 weeks, I have not had a single side effect.

As the first few days went by, nothing happened. I kept smoking as normal, there was no moment of “eugh, these cigarettes are disgusting, what am I doing to myself?” I felt no difference what so ever. Around day 10 I realised I had only been smoking about 8 or 10 a day, not because I had tried to cut down, just because I had smoked less, in fact on the weekend I had 4 cigarettes in total! On the evening of day 12 I went outside for what I knew was going to be my last ever cigarette, I stood there in the cold, lit up, had about 3 drags and thought to myself “what am I doing here, freezing my arse off, sucking on this thing that is doing absolutely nothing for me?” So I put it out and went back inside!

Since that day, I can hand on heart say there has not been a single occasion where I have “craved” a cigarette. The first few days, there where quite a few occasions where I put my had in my pocket to get a smoke, before realising to myself, hang on, I don’t smoke anymore! These moments do still happen every now and then, and it’s not that I want a cigarette, it’s just that for years, that is one of many occasions my body associated with smoking! The reason the course is 12 weeks, is it is meant to take that length of time for your sub-conscious to disassociate most of these triggers.

That is about all I can tell you for now, I have been a non smoker for 5 weeks, I have no desire to go and stand out side in the cold and fill my lungs with foul smelling noxious chemicals again, nor have I had any side effects. I haven’t been grumpy (no more than usual anyway!) and its all thanks to Champix!

I will have to finish this review in a few months though, when I am no longer on the medication, as that will be the true test, however at the moment, I am highly hopeful that this time I really have kicked the habit, but only time will tell!

See you in the gym,



3 Responses to “Up in smoke, a review of Champix”

  1. Abou Babou said

    doesn’t help with shit spelling though does it?

  2. Congrats on quitting! I know it is one of the hardest things to do! So proud of & happy for you! 🙂

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