Easy-to-read medicine information about varenicline – what it is, how to take varenicline safely and possible side effects.
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What is varenicline?
- Varenicline is a medicine to help adults stop smoking.
- It works by blocking the effects of nicotine in the brain.
- It can help to reduce craving and withdrawal symptoms that happen while you give up smoking.
- Varenicline is available from your pharmacy only on a prescription.
- Read more about how to quit smoking.
- Varenicline is usually taken for 12 weeks.
- Start varenicline 1 week before your target quit date. This helps build up the medicine in your body while you smoke for a few more days.
- When you first start taking varenicline, the dose is slowly increased to lower the chance of side effects such as nausea, and unusual dreams.
- During the first week, it is okay to smoke. Take one 0.5-milligram tablet once a day for 3 days, then to one 0.5-milligram tablet twice a day for 4 days.
- Stop smoking on the quit date then take 1 milligram twice a day for the rest of the 12-weeks.
How to take varenicline
- Swallow the tablets whole with a full glass of water.
- Take varenicline with food. This helps to prevent stomach upset.
- Limit drinking alcohol while you are taking varenicline. Drinking alcohol while taking varenicline may increase the risk for mood changes.
- If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember that day.
- But, if it is nearly time for your next tablet, just take the next tablet at the right time. Do not take double the amount of tablets.
Precautions before taking varenicline
It’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start using varenicline if you:
- have epilepsy or have ever had epilepsy, a seizure (fit or convulsion) or an unexplained blackout
- have a history of a psychiatric illness including depression
- are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, varenicline can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine
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Varenicline may interact with a number of important medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting varenicline or before starting any new medicines.