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Those looking to quit smoking often find it challenging to fight past their body’s craving for nicotine, but a solution can be found in the medication Chantix, which reduces the reward offered by cigarettes and makes it easier for you to fight any cravings.
However, those on Chantix must be aware of one thing in particular, alcohol. That is because alcohol and Chantix do not mix, with Chantix increasing the effects of alcohol and possibly causing aggressive behavior and forgetfulness.
Continue reading to learn more about Chantix, how it interacts with alcohol, and if there’s anything else to avoid while taking this medication.
Table of Contents
- What Is Chantix?
- Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Chantix?
- What Else Should You Avoid While Taking Chantix?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Is Chantix?
Chantix is a medication taken to help someone quit smoking and is often used alongside counseling support and behavior modification. Chantix is believed to affect the amount of dopamine released throughout the body and brain. This helps individuals quit smoking since nicotine, when consumed, also releases dopamine.
The brain views dopamine as a reward since it makes you feel happier and calmer. Nicotine is addictive because your body wants more dopamine, and since nicotine releases dopamine, your brain starts to associate cigarettes with the reward feeling.
Chantix works by keeping nicotine from attaching to the brain receptors that release dopamine, which removes the reward associated with smoking and helps reduce your craving for cigarettes. Over time, this can help people quit smoking altogether.
Chantix Usage Schedule
Chantix is the brand name for the medication varenicline, which is prescribed as a pill of two strength options: 0.5 mg, which is a white pill, and 1 mg, a blue pill.
There are two common ways to use varenicline. The first option is to choose a date when you want to quit smoking and then start taking varenicline a week before your predetermined quit date. Following this technique allows the varenicline to build up in your body before quitting.
The second option is to start taking varenicline and then choose a quit date 8 to 35 days after you begin taking Chantix.
Those who are prescribed Chantix are often placed on a dosing schedule that changes the longer you take it.
An example schedule may look like this:
- Days 1 to 3: one white pill (0.5 mg) each day
- Days 4 to 7: two white pills (0.5 mg) each day – one in the morning and one at night
- Days 8+: two blue pills (1 mg) each day – one in the morning and one at night
It’s important to note that those who quit smoking may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which can occur even if you take a medication such as Chantix.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include feeling depressed, restless, frustrated, angry, or irritated.
You may also experience:
- weight gain
- increased appetite
- slower heart rate
- difficulty sleeping
- having the urge to smoke
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Chantix?
It is not recommended to drink large amounts of alcohol while taking Chantix as it can increase the effects of alcohol or completely alter how your body reacts to it.
Potential Side Effects of Mixing Chantix and Alcohol
Some individuals who drink alcohol while taking Chantix exhibit unusual or aggressive behavior or forgetfulness. Some people even experience blackouts in which they cannot remember anything that happened before regaining consciousness.
The aggressive behavior exhibited by some people who drink while taking Chantix can be harmful not only to themselves but those around them.
What Else Should You Avoid While Taking Chantix?
While taking Chantix, it is essential to avoid other medicines that help someone quit smoking unless you have been otherwise directed by your doctor. For example, those who wear a nicotine patch while taking Chantix can experience unpleasant side effects.
Your doctor may also want to adjust any medications you take regularly, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal products, and vitamins.
The following 8 drugs are known to interact with Chantix, so ensure your doctor is aware if you take any of the following:
When to See a Doctor?
If you smoke and are interested in quitting, reach out to your doctor to determine if Chantix is a good option for you. Your doctor can look at your current medications and health history to help make this decision.
For a quick and convenient way to meet with a doctor, try DrHouse. You can meet with an online doctor through our app in just 15 minutes to discuss the best way to help you quit smoking.
Additionally, while taking Chantix, if you ever experience any severe side effects such as the following, seek immediate medical attention:
- strange dreams, trouble sleeping, sleepwalking
- suicidal or self-harming thoughts
- heart attack symptoms (e.g., chest pain or pressure, chest pain that spreads to the shoulder or jaw, sweating, nausea)
- stroke symptoms (e.g., slurred speech, sudden numbness or weakness, vision or balance problems, drooping on one side of the face)
- new or worsening mental health problems’
What is the biggest side effect of Chantix?
Chantix’s most dramatic side effect is its potential influence on your mental health. Some individuals who take Chantix report new or worsening mental health problems, such as depression, mood or behavior changes, hostility, agitation, and aggression.
Can you drink alcohol while you’re taking Chantix?
It is not recommended to drink a lot of alcohol while taking Chantix, as Chantix can increase the effects of alcohol or change how you react to it.
What happens when you drink on Chantix?
When Chantix and alcohol mix, it can cause the effects of alcohol to increase. Some people who take Chantix and drink alcohol have found that the combination causes them to exhibit unusual or aggressive behavior or forgetfulness.
Chantix is a prescription medication intended to help someone quit smoking alongside counseling and behavior modification. It works by removing the reward associated with smoking, helping to curb cravings and making it easier for someone to quit.
However, those on Chantix are not recommended to drink alcohol, and there can be some severe consequences for those who do. Chantix can cause the effects of alcohol to increase or even change completely. Those who drink while taking Chantix have reported outbursts of aggressive behavior, which can harm themselves or others. Others experience periods of blackout in which they cannot remember anything that happened. Because of these possible reactions, it is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Chantix.
If you’re interested in stopping smoking, reach out to your doctor to find out if Chantix is a good option for you. They can look at the medications you currently take and your health history to aid the decision. If you’re taking Chantix and experiencing any unusual or severe side effects, contact your doctor for guidance.
- Why You Shouldn’t Combine Chantix and Alcohol. (2023). https://www.thewoodsatparkside.com/why-you-shouldnt-combine-chantix-and-alcohol/
- Varenicline: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2023). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a606024.html
- Varenicline. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/quit-smoking-medications/which-quit-smoking-medicine-is-right-for-you/varenicline.html
- Singh D, Saadabadi A. Varenicline. [Updated 2022 Dec 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534846/
- Verplaetse, T., Pittman, B., Shi, J., Tetrault, J., Coppola, S., & McKee, S. (2016). Effect of Varenicline Combined with High-Dose Alcohol on Craving, Subjective Intoxication, Perceptual Motor Response, and Executive Cognitive Function in Adults with Alcohol Use Disorders: Preliminary Findings. Alcoholism: Clinical And Experimental Research, 40(7), 1567-1576. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1111/acer.13110
- Chantix and Alcohol/Food Interactions – Drugs.com. (2023). https://www.drugs.com/food-interactions/varenicline,chantix.html
- FDA updates label for stop smoking drug Chantix. (2019). https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-updates-label-stop-smoking-drug-chantix-varenicline-include
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