Using Varenicline (Champix®) to Help You Quit Smoking

What is Varenicline (Champix®)?

Varenicline tartrate is a popular quit smoking medication that is available from your doctor with a prescription. It is sold under the brand name Champix®.

You can also get Varenicline (Champix®) at a reduced cost through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – click here to visit the PBS website. To continue to receive Varenicline (Champix®) at a reduced cost through the PBS after the first 4-week prescription, you must be motivated to stop smoking and take part in a counselling program, such as through the NSW Quitline.

You’ll need to discuss with your doctor whether Varenicline (Champix®) is suitable for you.


How does Varenicline (Champix®) work?

When you smoke, nicotine binds to particular receptors in your brain. As a result, the reward centre in your brain is activated.

Varenicline (Champix®) works by binding to a specific type of these brain receptors, but it only partially activates them. This means there is no real ‘hit’ produced like there is with nicotine’s action.

What’s more Varenicline (Champix®) is able to block nicotine from binding to the receptors, stopping its ability to activate your brain’s reward centre.

Go to Varenicline: Frequently Asked Questions for more information


How do you use Varenicline (Champix®)?

You will first start on a low dose of Varenicline (Champix®) while you are still smoking. It is recommended you choose a quit smoking date between the first and second week after starting on Varenicline (Champix®).

This is because it takes around 4 days for the medication to reach an effective dose, although the exact time can vary from person to person. After a few days, you may notice you have a reduced desire to smoke.


Is Varenicline (Champix®) effective?

Not everyone who takes Varenicline (Champix®) will notice a beneficial effect.

It’s also important to note that taking Varenicline (Champix®) by itself will not make you quit smoking – it should form part of your overall quit smoking plan, along with professional help and other quit planning strategies.

Click here to find out how to start your quit smoking plan.

However, clinical trials have shown that Varenicline (Champix®) can more than double your chances of quitting, if combined with professional support. This is compared to quitting with willpower alone.

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