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Varenicline tartrate, marketed as Chantix by Pfizer, is a type of prescription stop-smoking pill that lessens the effects of nicotine on the brain’s chemicals, making it easier for some users to quit smoking. Smokers start taking the stop-smoking pills at least one week prior to the actual date they wish to quit. During the time they are both taking the stop-smoking pills and smoking, the drug interacts with their bodies in such a way that they no longer enjoy smoking but still having some feelings of relaxation, which can lessen the anxiety associated with smoking cessation. The combination of these two interactions on the body is what helps the person to quit smoking.

There are receptors in the brain called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. When a person smokes, the nicotine inhaled attaches to these receptors. The receptors then send a chemical message to release dopamine, a brain chemical that causes a person to feel pleasure, thus making the person want to continue smoking. The burst of pleasure fades within minutes, which leads the person to smoke more. This is what can lead to nicotine addiction.

Stop-smoking pills such as varenicline tartrate latch onto the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and interact with them in two ways. First, they activate the receptors but to a lower degree than nicotine. Without smoking, the person still gets a slight feeling of relaxation, which can lessen the effects of nicotine withdrawal. The person also does not have a direct association between inhaling the cigarette and the feeling of pleasure.

Second, stop-smoking pills block the receptors from responding fully; when the person smokes, the pleasurable sensations they anticipate do not come. The experience of smoking is no longer as satisfying for many users. This lack of joy can decrease stop-smoking pill users’ desire to smoke, thus making it easier for them to quit.

Chantix can be combined with an overall smoking cessation program that includes counseling and support, but it is not to be taken while using nicotine patches or gum. Insulin, asthma medications and blood thinners may work differently when taken with varenicline tartrate. Common side effects include dry mouth, intense and strange dreams, constipation, and nausea. The use of Chantix has been linked to suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, increased depression, hostile behavior, aggression, manic thoughts, anxiety, anger, paranoia and hallucinations in some patients. People who experience this type of reaction should stop taking the medication and talk to a medical professional.

Stop smoking gum works by releasing small amounts of nicotine in a person’s bloodstream to help reduce the cravings he has for cigarettes while he attempts to quit smoking. At first, a person chews the gum at frequent intervals in order to keep comfortable levels of nicotine in his body and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Gradually, however, the periods between doses of stop-smoking gum are extended in an effort to wean a cigarette smoker off of nicotine. In time, a person may have far fewer nicotine cravings and may no longer need either the stop-smoking gum or cigarettes.

When a person uses stop-smoking gum, it’s not meant to be a replacement for cigarette smoking. Instead, it is supposed to help a person quit smoking by controlling his cravings. The cravings a person feels when he quits smoking are usually not for the tobacco in the cigarette but instead for an addictive chemical substance called nicotine. Stop-smoking gum contains lower levels of nicotine than cigarettes do, but this amount is usually enough to help control cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, anger, and anxiousness. Essentially, this type of gum helps make quitting smoking easier.

When a person chews stop-smoking gum, nicotine in the gum is released and travels to the person’s bloodstream. It travels through the lining of a person’s mouth rather than through the digestive system. The gum may also prove satisfying for some people who miss the feel of holding a cigarette between their lips. It gives them a way to occupy their mouths.

In many cases, a person who is trying to quit smoking with stop-smoking gum starts off by chewing a piece of gum every one to two hours. Within several weeks, he may be able to cut back to chewing a piece of gum every two to three hours. After about three months, many people are able to cut back to chewing a piece of gum every four to eight hours. With enough time, their cravings for nicotine may be reduced enough that they do not need the gum or cigarettes.

There is a particular way to use nicotine gum in an effort to quit smoking. Usually, a person chews the gum in order to release its nicotine content but then allows the chewing gum to rest close to his cheek, between his cheek and his gum tissue. This is called "parking," and it positions the gum well for absorption of the nicotine through the lining of the mouth.