Smoking Cessation Drugs Could Have Devastating Consequences Smoking Cessation Drugs Could Have Devastating Consequences

A woman suddenly starts hallucinating and her friends notice some really strange behaviors. She takes a cocktail of pills resulting in an overdose that leaves her dead. A man turns violent and punches a stranger in the bowling alley, without any provocation. Another man goes for a mental evaluation where doctors tell him that he is not a danger to himself or others. Two days later, he murders his son and kills himself at the same time. What do these three tragedies have in common? All three of these people were taking Chantix, a prescription drug that is supposed to help people stop smoking.

Despite the violent, self-destructive behaviors that these three people demonstrated, they were all completely free of mental health problems before starting Chantix. In fact, none of them had a history of violence or suicidal thoughts. After these and other troubling stories have come to light, thousands of Chantix users are suing the prescription drug company Pfizer, the original maker of this dangerous drug.

Chantix is supposed to help people stop smoking by working within the brain. The drug works by altering nicotine receptors in the brain and blocking the satisfaction a smoker gets from puffing on a cigarette. The logic behind the drug is that it will take the pleasure out of smoking so you will just naturally want to stop.

It also releases dopamine, the same chemical that your brain naturally produces to give that little “buzz” after smoking a cigarette. By releasing a steady stream of dopamine, Chantix is designed to prevent withdrawal symptoms by counteracting them with a continuous release of “feel good” dopamine.

So the real question is whether or not Chantix is effective. Research has not been promising on the drug with only 22 percent of users remaining smoke free after a year. Even worse, there have been thousands of patients to complain and even file lawsuits because of nasty side effects including suicidal thoughts, suicide, depression, aggressive behaviors, heart attack, and angina.

The FDA released two studies in 2011 to defend Chantix, with results showing that the drug caused no increase in hospitalization for mental health issues. However, it only looked at psychiatric hospital admission. The studies did not consider the many reported cases of depression, aggression, violence, and suicidal tendencies. And those that are successful with suicide go to the morgue, not the psychiatric hospital.

With numerous studies showing the danger of Chantix, the FDA has finally ordered Pfizer to do additional studies on how the drug could be linked to violent acts. Unfortunately, that report will not be released until 2017.

The risks associated with Chantix do not stop at violent outbursts and self-harm. Others have reported temporary blindness, seizures, and blackouts. These conditions could also be fatal for someone driving a car or operating heavy machinery. With such high risk factors at play, The US Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration have banned the medication from their pilots and air traffic controllers. Truck drivers and railroad workers have always been warned to take the medication with extreme caution.

With Chantix causing so much harm to the very people it is supposed to help, you have to wonder why bother to take it in the first place. Electronic cigarettes offer an alternative to Chantix, giving smokers the habitual hand to mouth motion and the nicotine they crave, while eliminating the tobacco and tar that is so deadly. There is a better way to quench your craving for a cigarette without taking dangerous prescription drugs. Consider e-cigarettes and leave the pills behind.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.