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Jean Martin
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New Year's Resolution to Quit Smoking? Be Careful If You Choose Chantix

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It’s almost New Year’s Eve, which means that many people will be making New Year’s resolutions soon. And if you are an avid smoker, maybe your resolution for this year will be to put up the cigarettes for good. You know the health effects of smoking- lung disease, cancer, heart problems, etc- and this is the year that you will commit to putting yourself back into a healthy lifestyle.

There are many ways to quit smoking; some people go cold turkey, some people wear a patch, some take up a new habit like chewing sunflower seeds. But if you’re considering taking Chantix, a smoking cessation pill, you might need to be careful. According to Consumeraffairs.com, Chantix has been linked to "problems such as heart trouble, seizures and diabetes".

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices released findings of its review of adverse-event reports filed with the FDA. The reports included 988 serious incidents linked to Chantix in the U.S. during last year’s fourth quarter — the most for any medication in that period.

Alarmed by the report, the Federal Aviation Administration banned the use of Chantix by pilots and air-traffic controllers.

The ISMP study of 173 serious reports of accidents and injuries, including 28 road traffic accidents, calls for a much stronger warning than in the recently revised new labeling and new patient medication guide for the drug, Wolfe said.

There are many smoking-cessation products that are much safer than Chantix, so if you want help to kick your smoking habit in 2010, I suggest that you make a safer choice. I encourage you to follow through on this important new year’s resolution, but just do so carefully. Happy New Year and Best of Luck!

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    Most Chantix articles focus on safety. But what if cold turkey is superior to Chantix at both 6 months a year? Cold turkey defeated NRT (replacement nicotine) in nearly every real-world quitting method survey conducted to date. No study has yet pitted cold turkey against Chantix. In the only head-to-head long-term study pitting NRT against Chantix, when analyzing the percentage of participants who were not smoking at two long-term study points, Pfizer’s researchers were forced to report that there “were no significant differences” between Chantix and nicotine patch quitters at either 24 weeks (varenicline 38.6% vs. patch 34.1%) or one year (varenicline 34.8% vs. patch 31.4%). The obvious question becomes, why assume Chantix’s long list of serious use risks in exchange for little or no benefit?

    Frankly, without support Chantix is probably worthless. No Pfizer advertisement to date alerts smokers to the fact that Chantix drug approval studies set records for the number of counseling and support sessions received by study participants (up to 26). It’s why Pfizer is compelled to mention the word “support” in all New Year’s Chantix ads. Counseling and support have proven their ability to dramatically enhance quitting rates.

    The real mystery is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Chantix use without knowing its worth as a stand-alone quitting aid. Six million Americans filled 12 million Chantix prescriptions since its release in May 2006. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 36.3 million daily smokers in 2006 and 36.7 million daily smokers in 2008, when the adult smoking rate actually increased from 20% to 21% over the prior year. If Chantix works then where is the proof?

    Placebo-controlled Chantix studies were not science-based. As a smoker, if participating in a clinical trial and randomly assigned to the study’s Chantix group, would you have been able to tell if the dopamine “aaah” sensation that you had come to expect within 10 seconds of a puff was missing, because Chantix was now blocking nicotine from stimulating your dopamine pathways?

    If randomly assigned to the placebo group, if you had a lengthy quitting history, would you have been able to recognize the onset of full-blown withdrawal? Hoping for free study medication that diminished withdrawal anxieties, would realizing that you’d instead been given placebo sugar pills have left you frustrated?

    Chantix studies were not blind as claimed. Junk science, they reflect fulfilled and frustrated expectations, not product worth. Use of placebo controls in drug addiction studies is license to steal. A new petition drive asks U.S. health officials to demand honest quitting studies.

    Pfizer’s “I honestly loved smoking” marketing campaign toys with smokers.

    Drug addiction is about living a lie. It’s about dopamine reward pathway stimulation, desensitization and receptor count up-regulation leaving the addict totally convinced that nicotine use defines who they are, gives them their edge, helps them cope and that life without smoked nicotine would be horrible. Pfizer knows this and is now playing upon it.

    Full-page ads in papers across the nation scream “I honestly loved smoking” and “with Chantix you can smoke during the first week of treatment.” It isn’t that we loved smoking but that we didn’t like what happened when we didn’t smoke. If allowed, for every high there would have been a corresponding low.

    Like other addicts, our brain had become rewired for an external chemical. Unlike other addicts, the sensation accompanying our dopamine high (alert stimulation) permitted us to function almost normally and feel superior to those addicted to illegal drugs.

    Full obedience to the “Law of Addiction” provides 100% odds of success. So long as no nicotine enters your bloodstream success is guaranteed. What Pfizer will never teach smokers is that cold turkey accounts for far more long-term success stories each year than all other quitting methods combined.

    Cold turkey does not mean quitting without counseling or support. It means ending nicotine use abruptly, without use of replacement nicotine or imitation substitutes. The body becomes nicotine-free and withdrawal peaks in intensity within 72 hours of ending all nicotine use. The brain works overtime to re-sensitize dopamine pathway receptors and down-regulate receptor counts. But just one puff of nicotine and up to 50% of nicotinic-type receptors will become occupied by nicotine. Although you make think you have gotten away with smoking, relapse is all but assured, as the brain will soon be begging for more.

    Knowledge is power. Become smarter than your addiction is strong. The Internet is loaded with high-quality quitting tools, including a number of quality free quitting e-book. Turn on the lights. There was always only one rule … no nicotine today! Yes you can!

    John R. Polito
    Nicotine Cessation Educator