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Prescription treatments to stop smoking

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You can get medication on prescription to help you stop smoking. It can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully. Your GP will help you decide which treatment is best for you.

Prescription treatments can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, irritability, low mood and weight gain.

See your GP before you plan to give up smoking because you need to start taking the medication before your quit date.

Types of medication to quit smoking

The following medications are generally safe and well tolerated.

Champix (varenicline HCL)

You take Champix for 12 weeks. It doesn’t contain nicotine.

How it works:

  • You continue to smoke for the first 12 to 14 days of treatment.
  • As the medication builds up in your system, you won’t get the same enjoyment from cigarettes and you’ll want to smoke less often.
  • When you quit smoking, the medication takes over the role of nicotine by stimulating your brain to release the chemical dopamine.
  • This makes you feel good and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Zyban (bupropion HCL SR)

Zyban was first used as an antidepressant. People taking it for depression found that they no longer had the same urges to smoke.

It works in a similar way to nicotine, by releasing chemicals that make you feel good. This helps to reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that most people feel when they quit smoking.

Related topic

Cravings and withdrawal when you stop smoking

page last reviewed: 25/03/2019
next review due: 25/03/2022

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