Experiences Using Zyban to Quit Smoking?
November 21, 2004 1:17 PM   Subscribe

smokingfilter: Has anyone had experience using Zyban to quit smoking? More inside...

I've quit 4 times in the last 3 years using the patch, gum and cold-turkey. I started a new job recently and my boss smokes, and I find myself sneaking from 2-3 every day. I'm tired of trying and failing constantly. I'm considering talking to my doctor about Zyban, but would also be interesting in hearing any first-hand accounts. I've already read through this post, and this one, but I would be more interested in any specific Zyban stories. Thanks.
posted by punkrockrat to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It works really well, or worked for me, a 20 a day smoker. The way it works is wierd. I was advised to start the treatment and continue smoking for two weeks, which I did. Almost immediately smoking lost its appeal. I could no longer get a 'hit' and the process became rather dull. I was smoking out of habit, and it didn't even taste good. Other things lost their edge, although the anti-depressant effect cheered me up no end.

When it came to actually quit, it was easy. There were hardly any cravings. I assumed that I would suffer when I came off the medication, but no, that was easy too.

My problem was that I actually missed the desire. Perhaps that sounds stupid but having desires and then satisfying them takes a lot of beating. To be anaesthetised to desire may be useful and sensible but its slightly boring.

Isn't that silly. Good luck.
posted by grahamwell at 2:28 PM on November 21, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks grahamwell. On that same note, and something else I should have asked: what should one expect side-effect wise? Anyone with any bad experiences? Again, these are some of the same questions I'll be asking my doctor, but any first-hand experiences is quite helpful.
posted by punkrockrat at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2004

BTW zyban is the same drug as wellbutrin. Just different names. I think there is a generic form out there which might cut the cost. Also an extended release form which helps eliminate side effects. I took it and it makes a diff.
posted by konolia at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

I take Wellbutrin for a mood disorder, but I'm also a smoker attempting to quit, too.

The first time I was on it, I was started on 450mg/day. It was insane; I was wired all the time. I'd go into bizarre irrational fits of rage, and I had cottonmouth and dry eyes all the time.

This time there was a start of 150mg, which eventually got upped to 300 (ER). I noticed that my smoking decreased significantly, but has pretty much stagnated for the past 6 weeks or so.

The cravings/nic fits go away pretty rapidly after you start taking it.
posted by pieoverdone at 2:58 PM on November 21, 2004

Wellbutrin is the generic version of Zyban. You can get it cheap at pills.com. If that doesn't work - Google it. It does work. It changes your brain chemistry so that you don't get a high from smoking. Basically, it's a mild anti-depressent.
posted by xammerboy at 3:06 PM on November 21, 2004

Oh - there's a higher percentage of people that take it that get seizures than the general population. If you have heart related issues talk to your doctor.
posted by xammerboy at 3:07 PM on November 21, 2004

I took it for awhile when I tried to quit smoking. I had never tried quitting before, so I can't speak to how well it worked versus anything else, but I did go into a 1-2 week funk after I stopped taking it, surely related to the fact that it's an anti-depressant.
posted by hootch at 3:26 PM on November 21, 2004

Zyban and Wellbutrin are different brand names for a generic drug known as Bupropion. I've taken it. It worked really well to rid me of compulsions I hadn't even realized were compulsions. I stopped being obsessed with checking my email every 5 seconds and playing computer solitaire for hours a day. I would imagine it works the same way for smoking-- it eliminates cravings by eliminating any compulsion to smoke.

On the up side, Bupropian is known to increase libido.

Just don't smoke after.
posted by bonheur at 3:29 PM on November 21, 2004

I forgot that it also eliminated any compulsion to eat. I had to remind myself to eat meals since I never felt hungry. For that reason, the drug is contra-indicated for anybody with a past history of eating disorders.

If you'd like to lose a few pounds or you're worried that quitting smoking will make you gain wait, that could be a positive side effect.
posted by bonheur at 3:33 PM on November 21, 2004

The drug, in studies, effectively doubled 1 year quit rates, from rates of between 10% (cold turkey), to 20% at best w/ a nicotine weaning supplement, to rates as high as 45% if Zyban is used. I tell people that what it seems to do is help them become a nonsmoker by lessening the background "noise" that they have developed over years of tobacconism that is constantly telling them it's time to light up. Most smokers seem to get over the nicotine addiction relatively easier than they can rid themselves of the habitual, compulsive behavioral element.

Zyban/Wellbutrin's biggest side effect issue is that it can be really activating, which in most people means they won't feel tired, and may get insomnia, but if you tend toward being exacting, high-strung, or need things "controlled" you may find it really amps up those tendencies to an intolerable level. This is quintessentially the worst drug for new mom's with toddlers, for example, because it can really amplify underlying anxiety.

Grahamwells account, I thought, most closely resembled what I see in practice. And yes, it does lower seizure threshold, though my understanding of this is that it was at higher doses. The long acting, XL variety may be marginally better than the SR for smoking cessation. I wouldn't recommend using generic, short acting bupropion due to the side effect profile that comes with a shorter acting drug.

And cost-wise, it shouldn't be any more than the monthly cost of a pack a day habit, from what I've gleaned via Costco's pricing. And bonheur is correct in that this is a drug that may not curb your appetite, but it pretty much will never cause an increase in it or weight gain. I have to say that in an era of "lifestyle" drugs that cost craploads of money, this is something that really has revolutionized the process of quitting smoking.
posted by docpops at 4:31 PM on November 21, 2004

Almost immediately smoking lost its appeal. I could no longer get a 'hit' and the process became rather dull. I was smoking out of habit, and it didn't even taste good.

Exactly my experience. The major side-effect I had was terrible difficulty sleeping. When I did fall asleep, I'd have very vivid, threatening dreams. I basically stayed on the drug until the sleep deprivation became too much to bear. But, having been on it for 3-4 weeks seemed to do the trick.

Interestingly enough, I think the change in my reaction to cigarettes may have been permanent. I don't crave them the way I used to and, even though I've relapsed once, it was a lot easier to quit again.
posted by felix betachat at 4:55 PM on November 21, 2004

this is something that really has revolutionized the process of quitting smoking

That's true, but I have to add this. To stop smoking means not having a single cigarette, ever. Not a puff, not a friends joint, nothing. What prevents you from relapsing is the though of the terrible ordeal that waits if you do. There's also the sense of achievement at having quit. Once it's no longer such a terrible prospect or such a great achievement ..... it makes it easier to start again.
posted by grahamwell at 5:08 PM on November 21, 2004

wait, quitting smoking means no more joints?
posted by pikachulolita at 5:33 PM on November 21, 2004

I didn't like it. I was dazed and constantly thirsty. It did make the smokes taste disgusting, but didn't really make me want to stop smoking them. I had better (not much better, but better) results with the patch, and I found the side-effects far more palatable.
posted by alex_reno at 6:21 PM on November 21, 2004

I took it a few years ago and quit smoking for about 6 months. It was sort of strange in that I would just forget to smoke. It was my most successful quit attempt.


An intolerable side effect for me was ringing in my ears. So loud that I couldn't hear conversations over the ringing sometimes. Also, it made my emotions really... primal. I was either really happy, or really pissed off.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2004

Echoing and adding to docpops' comment on anxiety: this is NOT the drug you want if you are prone to anxiety disorders or panic attacks. I took it to quit a couple years ago, and yes, it worked, I quit smoking (made it 6 months that time) and it also pointed out to me that some of my behaviors are compulsive, so that part was all good. But the panic attacks - which I've had for years and mostly control fairly well just through breathing exercises and familiarity - spiraled out of control, and I had to stop taking it. It took me a while to make the connection, and then it took some time to ramp down off the drug and for all the symptoms to wear off, so all in all it was a pretty miserable experience.

Actually I was at the dr. this morning for a checkup & she asked me if I had tried it to quit smoking - I told her why I had stopped and she said, oh, no, they should never have given it to you if you have panic attacks! It's the worst thing for people with anxiety. So - now you are warned.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:32 AM on November 22, 2004

I quit for good with this (2 years in April since my last cig) and the main side effect I noticed was feeling very oily in my face and T-zone. And the loss of appetite, but that wasn't really a bad thing.

But it did kill my desire to smoke, so I stayed on it.

My doctor was swell and wrote the prescription for wellbutrin so that it was covered by my insurance (as opposed to zyban, which was not).
posted by Sheppagus at 11:45 AM on November 22, 2004

I will echo that it has been the only thing that has worked for me. I'll be three years a non-smoker in march. i only took it for a month (I think they reccomend two) I was so done with smoking. I had the exact same experience as other have noted - cigs stopped being my friends. They just didn't "work" - and they tasted awful.
I was a bit jittery - I had funny involuntary muscle spasms. My arms and legs were all jumpy as I was trying to get to sleep.
I still miss smoking terrbily - and unlike a lot of ex-smokers I know - i love the smell of a freshly lit smoke. I think it is just something I'll have to live with forever.
Good luck!
posted by Wolfie at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2004

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