When you take a look at the side effects of Chantix, a drug meant to help people stop smoking cigarettes, you will learn that Chantix has an effect on alcohol use as well. Specifically, taking Chantix can reduce the user’s tolerance for drinking alcohol. Naturally, this leaves people wondering whether or not Chantix and alcohol can be mixed. Moreover, there is some evidence that Chantix may actually help people recover from addiction to alcohol in some cases.
But unfortunately, the risks of combining Chantix and alcohol may be detrimental to people who struggle with addiction. If you are somebody who is curious about taking Chantix while using alcohol, continue reading for all of the information you need on whether or not it’s safe to combine these two substances.
What Does Chantix Do?
Chantix, otherwise known by its generic name of varenicline, is an FDA-approved prescription medication that doctors sometimes prescribe to people who want or need to stop smoking. The way that the Chantix medication is thought to work has to do with the amount of dopamine that is released throughout the body and brain.
Essentially, cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine, which, when consumed, releases the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is part of the reward system in the brain because when it’s released, it makes you feel calmer and happier. This makes your brain start to relate cigarettes to these rewarding feelings. So, when your dopamine levels drop just a little while later, the body and brain crave more of those happy hormones, leading many people to pick up another cigarette, and another, and so on.
When people use Chantix, however, the nicotine can’t attach to the brain receptors that release dopamine. This eliminates much of the rewarding feelings that come with smoking. The thought behind Chantix is that it levels out the chemicals throughout the body so that the brain doesn’t crave as much of the addictive substance. Over time, the Chantix medication helps a lot of people reduce their cravings for cigarettes and therefore slowly but surely stop smoking altogether.
But as with any prescription medication, Chantix comes with its own risks and side effects. Notably, some Chantix side effects have to do with the way that Chantix and alcohol interact with one another. On the one hand, these side effects are actually shown to help people who struggle with an alcohol addiction to not feel as many cravings for alcohol. But the other side of this is what we’ll discuss next: the dangerous complications of mixing Chantix and alcohol.
What Are the Risks of Chantix and Alcohol Use?
To begin, Chantix comes with a list of things to avoid when first taking the medication. This includes consuming alcohol. In fact, the FDA warns that drinking alcohol while using Chantix can have serious negative effects on a person. Not only does Chantix increase the risk of becoming intoxicated, but this medication also can significantly alter somebody’s behavior when combined with alcohol. The warnings on the box say that people who drink on Chantix can have aggressive behaviors that put themselves or others at risk.
Some people even report Chantix horror stories in which they combined Chantix and alcohol before suddenly behaving strangely. Other users blacked out and were unable to remember anything that happened before they regained consciousness. Additionally, Chantix dreams or nightmares that happen when you take the medication can be very frightening and realistic, causing severe anxiety and panic to the user.
Clearly, these are serious side effects that shouldn’t be taken lightly if you are making the decision to take Chantix. Although there are some studies that show that Chantix can help alleviate the cravings for alcohol, there’s simply not enough data to show that the pros outweigh the cons when Chantix is used to treat alcoholism.
What’s most important to note is that research shows that even if Chantix can help to reduce cravings of alcohol, taking this medication does not stop people from drinking entirely, which is often necessary for a full recovery from alcoholism. Rather, going through professional treatment is typically the most effective way to address an alcohol use disorder safely and with long-term results.
Alcohol Detox and Other Recovery Options
While Chantix might decrease the severity of cravings for alcohol in someone who is looking to recover from an alcohol use disorder, this medication isn’t equipped to handle the withdrawal symptoms that come with the decision to stop drinking. The safest way to make it through withdrawal is with a safe, supportive alcohol detoxification program.
In Ohio, some facilities offer 24-hour care to patients who are undergoing alcohol detox. This is extremely important in the event that the withdrawal symptoms require medical attention. Furthermore, prepping the body physically for the recovery process is an important step. Therefore, it’s important to attend a treatment facility that keeps you safe physically, emotionally, and mentally.
After detox, there are many options that you will have to work toward recovery without relying on the unknowns of prescription medications such as Chantix. Instead, you can participate in programs such as:
- Residential treatment
- Dual diagnosis programming
- Partial hospitalization programming (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Offsite PHP treatment
You will also have access to programs and services such as life skills groups, music therapy, recreational therapy, and more. The treatment option that is best for you depends on your life situation, current symptoms, and your recovery needs. Though it can seem overwhelming to choose a program that will be best for you, the experts at your treatment facility will walk you through each option and provide recommendations based on your recovery journey so far.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
If you are looking for the type of care that is mentioned above, look no further than The Woods at Parkside, located in the heart of Ohio. Here, you won’t have to worry about the “what ifs” when combining Chantix and alcohol. Instead, you will have the opportunity to recover the safe way with various treatments, peers who understand you, and a life-long support system for lasting recovery.
For more information about the dangers of Chantix and alcohol as well as starting your recovery journey at The Woods at Parkside, call us at 614-471-2552or submit a confidential contact form. Recovery doesn’t have to rely on unknowns—get the right kind of support by reaching out today.