Varenicline (Champix®)

Varenicline (Champix®) is an oral medication that helps you quit smoking. It works in two ways to increase your chances of quitting:

1. It makes using tobacco less satisfying, and
2. It reduces the cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

You need a prescription for this medicine.

How do I use it?

  • Take as directed by your pharmacist. They will help you choose a dosage regimen.
  • Start 8-14 days before your set quit date OR quit smoking 8-35 days after starting treatment
  • Take with food and/or water to prevent upset stomach
  • Do not crush or chew tablets
  • If you miss a dose, wait until your next dose at the usual time. Do not double up on the dose.
  • Once you have quit tobacco, keep taking Varenicline according to your doctor's instructions.

The Gradual Quit Approach:
Begin varenicline with a goal of quitting by the end of 12 weeks of treatment. During those 12 weeks gradually cut back your smoking with the goal of:

  • 50% reduction (or more) by week 4
  • 75% reduction (or more) by week 8
  • 100% reduction by week 12

What else should I know?

  • Do not use Varenicline at the same time as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) without a discussion with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
  • Do not take this medicine if you are 17 or younger.

Potential side effects of Varenicline include:

  • Nausea and or vomiting: take with food and/or water
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping or unusual dreams
  • Drowsiness: do not drive or use heavy machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Depressed mood, agitation, changes in behaviour, suicidal thoughts. If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking the medication and talk to your doctor right away. This medicine has not been proven to cause these symptoms.
  • Sudden onset of signs of stroke or heart attack such as severe dizziness, weakness, trouble speaking, vision problems, loss of sensation of limbs or face, clumsiness, severe headache, chest pain with left shoulder/jaw pain, constriction and chest tightness, and lots of sweating. Stop taking and see a doctor right away.