October 17, 2007
This is my record of quitting smoking with the cessation drug Chantix.
Note 1: Always consult your doctor about drug dosages.
Note 2: This is not the diary of a pack-a-day puffer. I cannot attest to the stuff’s efficacy with hardcore smokers.
But I can attest to a hardcore and irrational love for smoking.
Especially with wine.
Or vodka tonics.
Or anything alcoholic, let’s be honest.
I love smoking on my balcony before bed staring at the moon.
I love smoking on foreign beaches.
I love smoking on special occasions.
Occasions such as Saturday.
I’d never take a smoke break at work – that’s gross – but happy hour on a Wednesday? Pass the lighter.
This year I turned 30, which is simply too old to be smoking.
How does Chantix work? you may be wondering.
Varenicline, the mellifluous chemical in Chantix, sneaks up and latches on the nicotinic receptors in your brain.
Normally when you smoke nicotine attaches to those nicotinic receptors, sending a message to your brain to release dopamine.
But when Varenicline’s hanging out it prevents nicotine from binding itself to the same pleasure receptors, meaning you can’t derive pleasure from nicotine.
Essentially, Chantix cock blocks your Marlboro Lights.
QUIT DAYS 1-7
Because it takes a week to build up in the body, popping half a milligram twice daily of Chantix has no discernible effect. Continue to smoke when the mood strikes.
USEFUL READER TIP – In Texas at least, the cheapest place to fill your Chantix script is the pharmacy at Sam’s Club. Membership not required.
QUIT DAY 8
One milligram twice daily (double the dosage) doesn’t fuck around.
I keep attempting to smoke but my beloveds smell and taste like industrial polymer, like the poison they are.
The last thing I love is no longer lovable.
Relief/grief. It’s a weird combo.
QUIT DAY 9
Forming a complete thought is
Secondhand smoke makes me heave.
I nearly pass out in my hot yoga class. Which may be the Chantix or the 105 degree heat. Hard to say. I manage to stagger from the room despite the teacher’s dirty look. You are not supposed to leave the room in hot yoga. It’s very bad form.
I meekly apologize to the teacher after class, after twenty panicky minutes sitting in the stinky locker room trying not to die.
QUIT DAY 10
Fuck that guy in grade 10 who stole his mother’s Du Mauriers and brought them to school.
The rest of the side effects have arrived at that side effect frat party going on my body. Shortness of
breath/dizziness/headaches/irritability/nightmares/and because I write anonymously I will admit/ diarrhea.
Like PMS and food poisoning together.
QUIT DAYS 11-25
Chantix has locked into my nicotinic receptors like Z tetrads into T tetrads. The only urge is hand to mouth. Attempted smoking tastes repulsive.
When I’m lucky enough to actually be asleep I have vivid, acid trip nightmares the online ex-smoker community refers to as Chantix Dreams. Usually involving graphic violence and/or rough sex acts.
Pfizer unleashes a barrage of “GetQuit” email encouragements written by idiots who clearly never suffered from a nicotine addiction.
Example email encouragement: You’ve been Quit for 3 weeks. Reward yourself with a latte!
Idiots. Latte is standard.
I deserve porcelain veneers.
Or Lasik eye surgery. Some major health-related reward.
QUIT DAY 26
QUIT DAY 37
I’m up. UP.
The doctor’s office opens in three more hours. Christ.
I think about my life.
Overlooking a few things, my life is pleasant.
I think about my clothes. Mental wardrobe inventory.
I think about being awake and bored.
I get up, get ready, get going.
Eight on the dot I call Dr. Williams and rattle off the list of side effects.
Just go ahead and stop taking the medication, he says.
Cold turkey? I ask incredulously. At this point I’ve been reading the online Chantix forums and I know the cold turkey thing is not good (which I relay this to Dr. Williams, I think a little testily).
Back to half a milligram then, he suggests (I think a little impatiently). The side effects tend to show up at the higher dosage. We hang up.
Where the fuck did Dr. Williams go to medical school? I wonder to myself for the first time in the five years I’ve been going to him.
Irritated, I stomp to the kitchen and cut every pill in two. Little blue bits go flying behind the stove and fridge under the force of the knife.
QUIT DAY 54
I’ve got this shit on lock.
0.5mg in the mornings only, on a full stomach only.
Pound water all day.
Some type of exhausting cardio after work.
Tylenol PM Rapid Release Gels before bed.
QUIT DAY 75
I don’t smoke any more.
Smoking is over for me.
I am a non-smoker.
I’m still taking half a milligram of Chantix. I’m still having nightmares that would make Wes Craven piss himself. I’m still taking the odd puff at the bar when my decision-making skills are impaired by alcohol and it still tastes like nail polish remover with gasoline. When I even go to bars. Drinking without smoking = sex without orgasm.
In summary, Chantix at the lower dosage doesn’t limit normal life functioning and it makes cigarettes suck.
Depression and sleeplessness seem like a small price to pay for breaking an addiction.