Chantix: The good, the bad, and the ugly

My last cigarette!

My last cigarette!

Today I am one month cigarette free. It’s not the first time I quit, but I’m hoping it will be the last. No, I am certain it will be the last! I started smoking when I was 14 years old for all the usual reasons. The longest I was ever able to quit was for the duration of my pregnancy and the entire time my daughter nursed. Of course as soon as she weaned, I bought a pack. Last year I tried Chantix. I heard about all the crazy side effects. I also heard about the success rate. And my insurance covered it, so I figured what the hell. It worked. I quit a week and a half after starting the pills. But after I quit, I stopped taking the pills and it wasn’t long before I started smoking again.

On January 10th this year I decided to give Chantix another try, but this time I’m going to finish out the 3 month prescription. It’s hard because all those crazy side effects you hear about are true. The worst side effect for me was the nightmares. They were horrifying and I still can’t get some of the images out of my head (and this is from my first attempt with Chantix). My doctor suggested I take half the regular dose. That worked. I still have some really wacky vivid dreams, but the nightmares are gone.

I’ve been extra moody. I have indigestion as bad as I did when I was pregnant. I’ve had bouts of hives on my arms (no itching, just lots of red splotches). My migraines have gotten worse. I can’t seem to sleep more than 2 – 3 hours at a time. And then there are some female issues that I won’t get into. I have not, however, had suicidal thoughts, so yay for that! All of these side effects are on a half dose. I shudder to think what I’d be dealing with if I was taking the full 2 mg a day!

So why do I keep taking it? Because it worked. I smoked like normal for the first week. The second week I cut down to 2 cigarettes a day with the plan that I would quit when the pack was finished. I smoked the last cigarette around 9pm on January 19th and I’ve had no desire at all to go buy another pack.

My only struggles were with the times I used smoking as a time killing device . . . waiting for the bus, waiting for my clothes to dry at the laundry mat, etc. But the desire was not strong enough to make me walk through the doors of the smoke shop that I pass several times a day. And when I’m home I don’t miss it at all. The truth is that I just don’t want a cigarette. And the bizarre part about that? I LOVED smoking.

I am more confident that I will stay quit this time than I have ever been. Even when I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t fully believe that I would never smoke again. It was almost as if I was biding my time till I could light up. I didn’t cheat once in those 21 months because I refused to let my vice interfere with my child’s health. I didn’t quit for me. I quit for her. That’s the difference this time. There’s no outside influence. I want to quit for me. I want to get healthier.

I am proud to call myself a non-smoker.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by poolman on February 24, 2011 at 4:07 am

    I started smoking when I was 16. I quit at 41. I’ll be 54 this year. I quit once for a whole year. Then my wife and I went to a Christmas party at the restaurant I we worked at and started up again. When she smoked back then, we smoked the same brand. That made things easy and we both promoted our habits.

    When she was pregnant with my first daughter she quit and never took it up again. That was 30 years ago, now. I couldn’t imagine taking on that ball and chain again. First thing I thought about in the morning, last thing at night. I knew where all the seven elevens were, too. My oldest daughter smokes and has since she was 16. Hopefully she’ll decide to cut that out of her day soon.

    Hang in there. I did it cold turkey. It is so worth it and so freeing.

    Reply

    • I apologize for the delay in response. Your comment was in my spam folder and I just noticed. I am still learning how to navigate this site.

      Congratulations on your smoker remission, and thank you very much for you support! I’m still going strong and still have no desire to light up. My lungs and my pocketbook are thanking me!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Joiane on February 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I’ so proud of you for this! I hope to say those same words myself soon. So far I haven’t had any real side effects on Chantix and lets cross our fingers that it stays that way 🙂

    Reply

    • Thank you Joi! You’ll get there soon! Congrats on no big side effects from the Chantix. Mine showed up after only a few days, so I think if something major was going to happen, you’d have seen it by now. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Posted by Jason B. on March 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Hey, I found your blog using google search “Chantix + hives”. Here is my story:
    Today is 3-7-12 and I’ve been taking Chantix for the past 7 weeks. This is my second time trying Chantix, the last time 2 years ago. I was smoke free just 5 months back then.
    I’m 26 years old, male, very good health besides the smoking. I bike 15 miles everyday and eat a well balanced diet.
    This second time with Chantix is horrible. I am very depressed, angry, sad, emotional, most of the time.
    Also, if that isnt worse enough, is that red rashes that have developed all over my arms and legs, like spots or blotches. It feels like I have a really intense sun burn. For the past 5 days I’ve been itching and scratching like CRAZY and have had terrible experiences sleeping (no nightmares for me with chantix thank god), I have very restless sleep, sometimes less than 5 hours a night for several nights in a row. The itching on my arms in legs is absolutely maddening!!!! I am not taking my 1mg Chantix dose tonight as recommended by a doctor friend. I’m going to see my doctor tomorrow to see what this rash is. I am going to slowly ween myself off Chantix because I’ve heard many horror stories (and read about them) where people have went off the deep end……..i encourage everyone to CALL THEIR DOCTORS if they experience any rashes or emotional symptoms that threaten their wellbeing or others. ITS NOT YOU, ITS THE CHANTIX. This is the worst drug ever, and to be honest, I’d rather die from smoking than continue taking the drug.

    Reply

    • Hi Jason, and thank you for your comments! I hope that you’ve stopped taking the pills and are doing better.

      I agree with you 100% that anyone taking Chantix should talk to a doctor before AND while taking it! I was in constant communication with my doctor. There is also no way that I could have continued taking the full dose. Once I switched to a half dose, my side effects were subdued.

      It’s now been almost 14 months and I have still not had a single cigarette. I don’t regret taking Chantix. I suffered for 2 months to stay cig-free for over a year. It was worth it for me. But like everything else, different things work for different people. Good luck in finding what will work for you!

      Reply

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