Today is either the last day of the first month or the first (or third) day of the second month of the rest of my life. Today marks 31 days I’ve been on Chantix. Here’s the rub, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I actually took my Chantix.
It’s been a full month. What have we learned?
For me, it turns out smoking is a 2-part deal – one part chemical addiction, the other psychosomatic. The brain becomes addicted to nicotine, conveniently associating the nicotine fix with various physical and social triggers. Interesting is hindsight, where I look back at how I felt that having smokes meant reassurance, but did it reassure me that some aspect of my life was under control, or merely reassure my brain that there was nicotine on hand?
How does Chantix work, again?
Chantix breaks the nicotine fix. Says so right up there. Your brain craves nicotine, but when you take Chantix, you can smoke ’til you turn green – you’re not going to get the fix. I think this is why it’s so successful, really. They say the typical urge to smoke lasts about 30 seconds to a minute, but you could have 20 or more cravings in a day! Taking Chantix requires a grand total of maybe 10 seconds of willpower twice a day. Pill in hand, down the hatch, done.
Chantix is a nicotine blocker.
My own casual research shows that something like 90% of all nicotine is metabolized within a day. The balance might remain, depending on how much you smoke, up to a month. Well, as someone who smoked a pack or so a day, the 10% that remained in my system obviously wasn’t enough to sate the old grey matter’s jones so I doubt it’s playing a role today. I am 7 days from being 100% smoke free for a full 30 days.
What nicotine is Chantix blocking at this point?
My guess is none. If that’s the case, why should I stay on Chantix? I didn’t make a conscious decision to stop taking Chantix a week ago, and I don’t know that I’m making one now, but I spent last night drinking in the presence of no fewer that 4 smokers, all of whom are long time, close friends. As I watched them light smoke after smoke out there on the patio, did I want to smoke with them? You bet your ass I did.
Did I fall off the wagon?
Nope. In fact, whereas I’ve found myself inhaling deeply to get a good whiff of second hand smoke when I’m out and about (mostly to remind myself what it smelled like), last night I actually noticed my throat was getting dry and irritated. Pretty wild. Next thing you know, I’ll be bitching about the smoke bothering me or something.
The hard part that remains.
I haven’t had nicotine for pretty much a month. I don’t know if studies show that the brain continues to crave nicotine even when it hasn’t had any in a month, but even if it does, Chantix doesn’t curb the craving, just prevents you from satisfying it. The tricky part is breaking those psychosomatic connections – The smoke at 10 o’clock break, after lunch, afternoon break, the half a pack during the drive to and from work, the chain smoking done while shooting the shit over beers on the patio.
Of course, these are behavioral triggers. The brain associates these triggers with getting nicotine and therefore expects some kind of nicotine rush when they occur. How long before my brain gets used to there not being a nic fix with these situations and stops craving it? Time will tell.
Closing thought of optimism.
I’ve gone so long without smoking now that I can clearly see – and more importantly feel – the health benefits to quitting. As much as I might want a smoke, my desire to maintain my success is stronger. That’s a pretty cool feeling.
Closing thought on Chantix.
Your insurance probably doesn’t cover it, but it’s $133 at the Wal-Mart pharmacy. Your doctor should have no trouble prescribing it for you if you’re a smoker. If you’ve thought about quitting, just try this. It’s like you just lose interest in smoking and once you start breathing easier and feeling healthier, you might find you don’t really want to smoke after all. And who ever has trouble NOT doing something they DON’T want to do in the first place?