Three Medications to Help You Quit Smoking

An increasing number of Canadians are turning to medication to help them quit smoking

An increasing number of Canadians are turning to medication to help them quit smoking. If used correctly and combined with behaviour therapy, they improve your chances of quitting permanently. Below is a list of the medicines approved by Health Canada. To find out more, consult your doctor.

NRT (nicotine replacement therapy)

It comes in different dosages, does not require a prescription and comes in four different forms: patches, gum, lozenges and inhaler. Although NRT is considered safe, it should not be used by everyone and you should discuss NRT with your doctor prior to starting. Symptoms associated with NRT may include irregular heartbeat, headaches, nausea and stomach upset as well as dizziness.

Bupropion (Zyban)

Bupropion is a medication that affects chemicals within the brain that nerves use to send messages to each other (neurotransmitters). It helps control your cravings and does not contain nicotine. You start using it a week or two before actually quitting and may need to take it for several weeks. While using Bupropion, you must be monitored by your doctor. Side effects may include mood changes, anxiety, abnormal dreams, agitation and seizures.

Varenicline (Champix)

Varenicline is a medication that affects the brain’s neurotransmitters in a slightly different way. It makes smoking less enjoyable and does not contain nicotine. The dose is increased during the first two weeks and the withdrawal symptoms ease within the first two weeks. Side effects may include severe swelling and skin reactions, mood changes, disturbing thoughts, nausea, gas, constipation, insomnia, abnormal dreams and headaches.

If you have decided to quit smoking, one of these methods may help you. The key to your success is to use it correctly, change your routine, use it alongside a form of behavioural therapy, be alert to any changes in your body and brain, and see your doctor regularly.