Champix Explained

An in-depth guide to the clinically proven quit smoking aid.

Updated: Thursday 25 March 2021

champix insight

Champix is a plant-based nicotine free medication proven to increase your chances at quitting smoking. It takes willpower and planning to complete the course of treatment and it is recommended that you start taking Champix 1-2 weeks before your planned date to quit smoking.

How does it work?

Champix contains the active ingredient ‘Varenicline Tartrate’ which works by relieving your cravings for a cigarette and any withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

When you smoke, the inhaled nicotine stimulates the receptors in your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine gives you the feeling of pleasure, but only for a short while which is why your body craves more nicotine – this then turns into a vicious cycle. Champix works by blocking the nicotine from reaching the nicotine-receptors, reducing the satisfaction and desire gained from smoking.

How do you take it?

Champix can be taken with or without food, and reports suggest it is best to avoid mixing it with alcohol.

Champix comes in different packs:

  • Starter pack - Comes as white tablets of 0.5mg and light blue tablets of 1mg. You should start the treatment with the lower dose of 0.5mg white tablets while your body gets used to the medication.
  • Continuation pack - Comes as a pack of 28 or 56 light blue tablets of 1mg.

Your guide to taking Champix:

Week/Day Dose
Week 1 - Day 1-3 Take 1 white tablet of 0.5mg once a day.
Week 1 - Day 4-7 Take 1 white tablet of 0.5mg twice a day (one in the morning and one in the evening).
Week 2-12 - Day 8-end Take 1 light blue tablet of 1mg twice a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

After completing the 12 weeks of treatment, if you have stopped smoking entirely, your doctor may recommend you taking an additional 12 weeks of Champix treatment, which is 1mg tablet twice daily to maintain abstinence.

What are the side effects?

Like all medications, Champix can have some side effects.

Not everyone experiences side effects but the most common ones include:

  • Nausea
  • Inflamed nose and throat
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Abnormal dreams

Other side effects can affect one in ten people taking Champix.

  • Chest pain
  • Change in appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness

Does it work?

Studies have proven that varenicline is more effective compared with other smoking cessation treatments such as Zyban 150mg. In this study, the results showed that 44% of the test subjects using Champix quit smoking after 9 or 12 weeks of treatment compared to 29.7% for bupropion (branded name Zyban) and 17.7% for the placebo.

Iris Barbier

Written by: Iris Barbier

Pharmacy Assistant

Born in France, Iris moved to the UK to study Biological Sciences at London Metropolitan University. Upon graduating, Iris moved up north, where she completed an MA in Science Journalism at the University of Lincoln.

As a qualified science journalist, Iris uses her expertise to write content for Pharmica’s online Health Centre. She ensures our patients get specialist knowledge on medical conditions and how to treat them.

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