Varenicline

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Varenicline, also known by its brand name Champix, is a medication that can help relieve nicotine cravings in people trying to stop smoking.

Skip to: How to use - Pros & Cons - Effectivness - Side Effects

It’s only available via prescription and is only prescribed for people over the age of 18.

Treatment usually begins a couple of weeks before your quit date and will continue for about two months after you stop smoking.

If you’re looking to quit smoking and are wondering whether varenicline could work for you - speak to a doctor online now.

Our GPs can offer expert advice on the best ways to quit smoking, discuss your challenges and recommend aids like varenicline to help you kick the habit.

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varenicline
varenicline with water

How do you use varenicline?

Varenicline is taken as a course of tablets and you’ll begin a couple of weeks ahead of your quit date.

The medication works by reducing nicotine cravings and interfering with the brain’s reward mechanism in regard to smoking.

A course of varenicline typically lasts about two months and consists of one or two tablets each day, but you may be able to have your prescription renewed for longer if necessary.

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Pros and cons of varenicline

Varenicline is thought to be one of, if not the, most effective medication you can use to help you quit smoking. Studies have found it to be twice as effective when compared with a placebo, however, it’s not a silver bullet for quitting smoking.

While it can help you handle cravings, you’ll also need plenty of motivation and willpower if you’re to successfully kick the habit and it’s commonly recommended that you have regular counselling from a doctor or other health professional.

Similarly, after the course of medication is finished, some may find that cravings return or they experience withdrawal symptoms, like insomnia and irritability.

Side effects are also commonly reported with varenicline and in some cases, these can be quite severe.

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pros & cons of varenicline
varenicline  effectiveness is twice as good as a placebo

How effective is varenicline?

As mentioned, varenicline has been found to be highly effective as an aid to stop smoking. In a review of studies on the drug, researchers found it to be more than twice as effective as a placebo.

Varenicline was also found to out-perform medications like bupropion and other nicotine replacement therapies, but in most studies the drug was administered alongside another kind of support - from regular consultations to a booklet on how to stop smoking.

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Side effects of varenicline

It’s thought that around 20 to 25 per cent of those who take varenicline will develop some side effects, with some of the most common including:

  • Nauseau
  • Insomnia
  • Vivid or strange dreams
  • Headaches
  • An excessively dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizzy spells

Varenicline isn’t recommended for men, or people under the age of 18, pregnant or suffering from kidney issues.

If you’re currently taking varenicline and are experiencing any worrying side effects, it’s important to speak to a doctor as soon as you can.

varenicline side effects

Talk to a doctor about varenicline

If you’re trying to quit smoking and are wondering if varenicline could be useful, speak to a doctor online now.


Our GPs can discuss your efforts to date, provide expert advice on the most effective ways to quit and if needed, prescribe medication like varenicline to help you kick the habit.

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