Varenicline

Varenicline is an FDA-approved prescription drug that contains no nicotine. It helps you quit tobacco by cutting the pleasure your brain gets from using tobacco and reducing the withdrawal symptoms. This section contains general information about varenicline. Talk to your health care provider to learn more and to see if varenicline is a medicine you may want to consider to help you quit tobacco.

How It Works:

  • You’ll begin taking varenicline while you are still using tobacco; one to two weeks before your planned quit date.
  • Follow your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider may change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medicine.
  • The standard length of time to take varenicline is 12 weeks. At the end of that 12 weeks, your health care provider will evaluate how you are doing and may prescribe an additional 12 weeks.

Serious side effects have been seen in some people who use varenicline. This includes changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts. If you experience any of these side effects, contact your provider immediately. All patients being treated with varenicline should be observed for any changes in behavior. If you are trying to quit tobacco with varenicline let your family and others around you know, so they can be on the lookout for these symptoms and can help you, if needed.

For Service members, there are restrictions placed on varenicline based on military occupation. Check with your medical officer or provider before taking.

Some side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach issues such as constipation or upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Strange dreams or nightmares
  • Change in appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Dry mouth

Get more information on varenicline.

Important: Use all medications exactly as they are prescribed for you. Do not use medications in larger amounts or for longer than recommended by your health care provider. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines including anything over-the-counter. Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children and pets. Take note, the content on this site reflects general information about tobacco cessation medications and is not a substitute for the advice of a medical provider, nurse or pharmacist. You should always talk with your health care provider about which medication is right for you and your situation, especially if you are on Active Duty. Some medications may have restrictive use depending on military occupation and status.