Have you taken Zyban to quit smoking?
January 6, 2005 12:57 AM   Subscribe

I'll be 50 this year and I've decided to give up smoking, My doctor's prescribed Zyban but, after reading the leaflet (more like a computer manual, actually) that comes with the package, I'm terrified. Has anyone had any direct experience of the drug? Many thanks! [More inside.]

Four of my friends - same age or older - have taken it and swear by it but - in the U.K. at least - doctors are loth to prescribe the thing. It's an antidepressant of sorts and my only experience with those (Prozac, back in the day) was awful and, after two days of buzzing in the ears and an unholy, unnerving agitation I ditched them.

I am naturally energetic and cheerful - thank God, I suppose - and can't enjoy stimulants of any sort, including tea and coffee in more than miserly amounts. Depressants (such as alcohol and nicotine) my brain appreciates and delights in. I need winding down, not up.

Last time I gave up smoking (for eight long years), Lobidan, a tranquilizer, was a great help but it's been banned in Portugal - apparently for good reasons - and the current fashion is to use stimulants.

I should add that I love smoking, have an addictive personality and had a very hard time quitting smoking. I spent a whole month of being basically useless, with terrible pains - it took a whole month to copy my address book, which was honestly all I could do...! So I'm willing to spend a month being useless. Any real-life experience with Zyban (or other anti-smoking drugs) would be dearly welcomed.
posted by MiguelCardoso to Health & Fitness (56 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I never tried Zyban but I do recommend the usenet group alt.support.stop-smoking which was a big help to me when I quit lo these seven years ago. If you go there and search for Zyban you'll get all sorts of comments by people who use it. Of course it's usenet so it's not a group that is as, shall we say, self-selected as Mefi. But any port in a storm.

(Hey, I said "Any port in a storm" to Miguel! nyuk nyuk)

Seriously, one thing that you hear over & over there is, "There's no such thing as just one." I never forget that. I hate to ask why you started again after eight years--don't want to derail your thread--but that's usually the culprit, "I'll just have one..."
posted by mono blanco at 1:11 AM on January 6, 2005

A word of warning. My wife tried it and it had severe psychological effects. Agitation, depression, etc. I honestly believe that if she had continued to take it there was a good chance she would have committed suicide.

It is also very good at removing those craving while you're taking it, but as soon as you stop, the craving return.
posted by salmacis at 1:23 AM on January 6, 2005

I hope you will forgive this brief derailment, Miguel: I just peeked through your ask.mefi history and saw this thread. The Hussel Archive is actually at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. The International Centre for Phenomenological Research is located there. The town of Leuven is extremly vibrant, beautiful and cosmopolitan. There is an English-language philosophy program that goes all the way to the PhD level. They have quite a strong department. The Catholic history is still present, but the school is home to people of many religious backgrounds. I am Jewish and I didn't feel alienated when I visited; in fact, I have just applied to finish my undergraduate education there. </derail>
posted by ori at 1:26 AM on January 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

Zyban is the same active ingredient as Wellbutrin, buproprion. This is incidentally, a different type of drug than Prozac and other SSRIs.

It seems that it is strange that salmacis's wife would have those effects, but people react so differently to drugs that it doesn't surprise me. One known factor is it raises the probability of seizures slightly. But I have heard good things in using it in combination with nicotine replacement (the patch, nicorette).
posted by BleachBypass at 1:59 AM on January 6, 2005

Miguel, nicotine is a stimulant AFAIK.
posted by trondant at 2:09 AM on January 6, 2005

Yes, I thought that nicotine was a stimulant too.

I'm a recovering nicoholic, I stopped cold turkey more than four years ago. The first week was hellish: pains, a feverish feeling, lack of appetite, agitation. I had originally planned to use patches or zyban, but the sickness made me so angry I wanted to get it over with once and for all. I thought: damn, this must be some evil poison they put in those cigarettes, I will win this.

I have no regrets about quitting, although I've taken to smoking Havana's once in a while (say, two a month). Sometimes I have nightmares about starting to smoke again (I buy a pack and smoke five of them before I realize *gasp* that I quit smoking!)

On topic: I would consider stopping cold turkey if I were you. You don't need zyban or patches. It will do wonders for your self image.
posted by NekulturnY at 2:12 AM on January 6, 2005

I have a friend from NY who is taking a drug to quit smoking. I don't know the name of it, but she said that she now gets major black-outs when she drinks.

All these drugs sound a bit dodgy to me.
posted by Frasermoo at 2:24 AM on January 6, 2005

I don't know the name of it, but she said that she now gets major black-outs when she drinks.

Now that you mention it: I had that too. I don't think it has anything to do with drugs. I think it's a result of a changed drinking/smoking pattern. When you drink and smoke, you drink slower. Take a sip, drag your smoke. Sip, smoke. When you stop smoking, you keep the same rhythm, but you're not smoking anymore, just drinking. Sip, sip, gulp, gulp. You're drinking more and faster. Result: black out. It takes a few months to settle in a new rhythm.
posted by NekulturnY at 3:11 AM on January 6, 2005

Nicotine is a mild stimulant. The reason it can seem calming is smoking a cigarette stops the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal for a short while.

The calmness is relative, essentially, the better of two bad feelings, the one being the increasing agitation associated with nicotine levels dropping in your blood, as opposed to the restoration of your nicotine high.

There's also the psychological angle, smokers often smoke when they have a drink, after a meal, when they chat with friend, or otherwise just take time to relax. For some, stopping whatever they are doing to have a smoke is one of their only reasons to take some time out to relax.

If you are quitting, you need to replace that "cue" with others. Train yourself to relax in other ways.
posted by lucien at 3:18 AM on January 6, 2005

Some hard advice for you, Miguel - to succeed in quitting for the long run, you'll have to rethink a number of behaviors, including your handling of boredom, stress and doubt.

The most common mistake among quitters is to track the time they've lasted withoutlighting up. In such instances, they'll often turn back within the first three to six months. Every moment you spend considering the X number of weeks/days/minutes/hours/seconds of attempting to stop is equivalent to carrying a pouch of tobacco with you at all times. You'll need to focus on literally forgetting your habit before you can triumph over your former routines. There will always be memories of enjoying a fine cigar, pipe, hookah or cigarette, but you're going to have to focus on occupying yourself in other ways; this is particularly true during the rigors of sitting alone in a room, walking amongst a crowd, et cetera. Should you find yourself getting frustrated, say so by all means, but don't rely on anesthetizing yourself with Pavlovian treats of candy, gum, etc. - since you've already done that, in effect, during your former endeavor. It's human nature to feel vulnerable, but it really won't be the nicotine withdrawal that'll make you feel anxious. Turning yourself from years of repetition may as well be like walking without shoes, or forcing yourself to live with a haircut you never especially cared for - in any case, you're going to work out a new set of solutions to the daily rigors. Considering your sharp mind and healthy measure of esteem, you'll take to your new challenges quite well - or perhaps I should say, old challenges. As Bill Cosby said of novocaine, some things in life don't take away from general discomfort, but rather postpone it. Your family's support, your associates' as well, and the remarkable things you've accomplished have already helped you with much of that. It's just the random mental clutter you have to sort out, which is something everyonel has to grin through in the course of their own reflection.

Good luck!
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:19 AM on January 6, 2005

My wife took Zyban and after less than a week was ill with rashes, bleeding gums, headaches and various other complaints so I had to stop her from taking it. She did actually quit smoking but apparently for zyban to work takes weeks/months. Be careful and only use it under medical supervision.
posted by Cancergiggles at 4:26 AM on January 6, 2005

That drug insert is pretty daunting, isn't it? I felt the same way when I read it a few years ago. Almost never took the pills.

Remember that they have to give you the worst-case scenario. I don't doubt that many people have experienced bad side effects, but certainly not everyone has. Not even, in the wide circle of my acquaintance anyway, most. I can't think of anyone who stopped it because of those things, to be honest.

I know many people who feel their experience in quitting smoking has been eased considerably by taking it, including myself. Congratulations on your decision and good luck. And don't be like me and start smoking again a year later!
posted by gai at 4:30 AM on January 6, 2005

You could try to get hold of some NicStic?
posted by Gyan at 4:49 AM on January 6, 2005

Migs, I took it (under the Welbutrin name but same drug.) Made me a little wired but that was all.

It also can act as an aphrodisiac.

I do know a bit of your family medical history so you need to mention it to your doc-but wellbutrin/zyban/buproprion is considered one of the safer antidepressants for someone with that family history.

If you have other questions regarding that last part, email me.
posted by konolia at 5:04 AM on January 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you all for the excellent advice and suggestions - I'm now tempted to go cold turkey and resort to drugs only if I'm pathetically totally unable to do it.

I hate to ask why you started again after eight years--don't want to derail your thread--but that's usually the culprit, "I'll just have one..."

Indeed, mono blanco... My best friend assured me a good Cuban cigar after dinner, as long as I didn't inhale, wouldn't reinfect me with the tobacco addiction and I stupidly believed him. Result: by the end of the month I was smoking a very expensive box of 25 every week (3 to 4 a day), until I could no longer afford them and switched to the cigarillos I smoke today. I still can't stand cigarettes but, like the addict I am (and, as an addict, I truly enjoy each one) I was soon smoking the 30-40 a day (plus 2 cigars) which are my quota so far.

So, if anyone's managed to quit (and I truly quit, hating the very smell), DO NOT BE TEMPTED to puff at a cigar: it's exactly the same. Even if you don't inhale, the voracious little blood vessels in your mouth will absorb the drug and rehook you instantly.

Still, it was good while it lasted...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:30 AM on January 6, 2005

Hmm, you must be truly of the addictive personality type. I've never felt a craving to start smoking big time again from puffing a Cuban once in a while. Or maybe it's just that I can't afford it...
posted by NekulturnY at 6:15 AM on January 6, 2005

It's a funny thing. I'm taking bupropion hcl myself (under the brand Wellbutrin), and have stuck with it because its one of the first anti-depressants I've been on that had negligible side effects for me. Most drugs do have the long list of terrible things; they have to list all the possible effects.

Assuming you have a good doctor, trust him and take the prescription, but scrupulously track the side effects. If they get bad at all, call the doctor at once and discuss.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:23 AM on January 6, 2005

On the other side of things, my father took Zyban and had no noticeable side effects. Mind you, he was quitting before being treated for cancer, so it's possible that the side effects of the Zyban were simply overwhelmed by the effects of the cancer, but he tends to whine a lot when he's ill, so I suspect if he'd felt symptoms, we'd have heard about them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:31 AM on January 6, 2005

The only thing that helped me quit for more than a week was taking Wellbutrin, and it was so easy it was stunning, but two caveats:

1) The first week I took it, it made me suicidal- in the sense that I desperately wanted to die, but hadn't quite worked up the energy to do it. After the first week, things normalled out and I felt just fine.

2) A month or so after I quit taking it, I started smoking again as if I'd never stopped.

Now, #2 is obviously a matter of personal willpower, but #1 made me leery enough that even though I'm going to be trying it again, I warned my doctor and my husband that it had that effect on me, to make sure they keep an eye on me.
posted by headspace at 6:42 AM on January 6, 2005


my girlfriend of just quit smoking after 15 years on the ciggies. the patch and determination were the two keys ... she made the jump to the patch then slowly trimmed the patch down to smaller and smaller sizes.

i was pretty amazed how well it worked for her - some of the other suggestions offered here were a big help as well.

a former tenant/roomate of mine said zyban was the trick - but my SO hated it when she tried it... so..

good luck1!
posted by specialk420 at 6:58 AM on January 6, 2005

I agree with NekulturnY about the self-image boost from going cold turkey (quitnet helped me through the worst part of it.) My wife and her father both went the Zyban route, though, and both credit their success solely to the drug. Neither had psychotic episodes, or even mild neuroses. From my perspective, they spent 6 weeks functioning at 50% mental capacity, complete airheads for the most part. But when the Zyban course was over, their faculties returned and they no longer smoked.

(Also, as NekulturnY separately noted: your drinking patterns will change after you're off the cigarettes. Without exception, every ex-smoking drinker I know drinks more than when they were smoking. Replacing one vice with another, I suppose, but depending on how much you drink, it may be something to watch.)
posted by deshead at 7:13 AM on January 6, 2005

I just skipped straight to the end.

There's a small, small chance of a heart attack. If you don't have a history - don't worry about it.

Zyban is Wellbutrin - go for Wellbutrin which is the generic form of the drug and can be bought cheaply online at pills.com. These drugs are mild anti-depressents.

All said and done my experience with Wellbutrin was fantastic. This drug works. While using it I went ahead and drank etc. I didn't modify my behavior at all. After you are on it you'll understand it's effects.
posted by xammerboy at 7:36 AM on January 6, 2005

Pack-a-day Winstons full-strength for eight years. Quit three or four times, finally for good (so far) four years ago.

Loved to smoke. Loooooooved it. But it made my chest hurt and if it didn't kill me it was going to cripple me. So I was determined to ignore the "cigs are as addictive as heroin" bullshit.

I rationalized my way through most of it. Quitting made me pissed off and gnawingly snappish for a week. Every time I thought screw it, I reminded myself it was a choice between pissed off for a while or dead/crippled for much much longer.

What finally put the stake in the habit was taking up exercise. Then when I slipped off the wagon I could feel what each ciggy was doing to my vulnerable inner bits.

For me at least, that took it from the intellectual level ("Eventually this will hurt me") to the intimate level of meat and poison ("Shit, that hurts").

Miguel, as a long-time admirer, I feel bold enough to say you're a smart fellow. You have oodles of knowledge about what makes yourself tick. Use it. Look at yourself and find the button that works for you. Push it every time you want to put another ciggy in the chamber for another go at Portugese roulette.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:36 AM on January 6, 2005

Dude, Miguel, you don't need to quit smoking cold turkey to feel good about yourself. Seriously, there are tools to help you quit -- there's no reason not to use them.

I don't have any experience with Zyban, but when I quit I used the patch, and I changed my habits. When walking home from work, I took another route. After eating, I distracted myself. I tried cold turkey before I got the patch and lasted a day and a half. I felt like I was going out of my mind.

I smoked half a pack a day for five years, and I used the patch for two weeks and decided not to go for any more. I was having pretty bad cravings for a couple of months (even to the point of dreaming about smoking) but I took a couple of puffs off my sister's cigarette, realized it was pretty ucky, and the cravings went away. This coming from someone who resisted quitting the whole time she did it because of how much she liked the taste and, well, the experience.

Good luck. :D
posted by sugarfish at 8:00 AM on January 6, 2005

I took wellbutrin to quit smoking, and it worked, while I was on it. Unfortunately, it also made my panic attacks worse, so if you have any history of anxiety disorders, this is not the drug for you. This is a apparently a pretty well documented side effect. After a month I couldn't stand it anymore and stopped. Started smoking again some 3 months later. . .

The other kind of interesting thing about it was that it cut my interest in drinking way down as well; not sure what that says about my relationship with alcohol, sigh, but there you have it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:13 AM on January 6, 2005

seriously, best of luck to you Miguel, in your attempts to quit smoking.
posted by crunchland at 8:36 AM on January 6, 2005

Hmm, you must be truly of the addictive personality type. I've never felt a craving to start smoking big time again from puffing a Cuban once in a while.

I have a cigarette every now and again, but never feel a craving to start smoking full time again (I only smoked regularly for about year in college). A lot of it is psychological, which is not to say it's easy to overcome, since psychological habits are in many ways more difficult that chemical yearnings. Use whatever methods help, but I would encourage you to ultimately rely on your willpower (even if you use other methods, remind yourself that you're making the choice). You really are 100% in charge. you may experience some physical discomfort or mental irritation etc, but you know that ahead of time, and it is absolutely entirely up to you whether to let it get the better of you.

Even when I used to smoke, I would take 'fasts' every now and then just to be sure I could. You just have to train yourself to follow your own orders... The biggest difficulty is depression, because then you doubt you're worth paying attention to, and you slip into habits you don't want to partake of, but can't be bothered to stop yourself from.

One thing you can try is rehabituating yourself purposefully, so that rather than actively fighting against an urge, you just have different habits, like going for a walk or having a seltzer or doing a set of push ups or whatever else will take a few minutes and feel like an 'event' (that's one thing that makes smoking hard to stop - it seems to sort of 'cause a moment,').
posted by mdn at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2005

Congratulations on your decision, Migs. Best of luck on the follow-through.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on January 6, 2005

I took it and recommend it to anyone who wants to quit. My only side effects were a kind of speedy feeling which was a bit uncomfortable (like Miguel, I prefer downers) and a marked increase in general randiness (no complaints). It is rather pavlovian - it just makes it so the cigarettes "stop working". Your favorite smokes tastes like an offbrand that's been sitting open at the bottom of a drawer for years and it doesn't satiate. After trying to push through that for a week you eventually realize the futility and just give up. You still have to go through some of the withdrawal symptoms. It didn't totally alleviate my crankiness - but the speedy effects (bupropromine is the molecular second cousin to methamphetimines) tend to keep one out of a serious funk and also help prevent massive amounts of weight gain. For smoking cessation you are supposed to take it for 2 months - I had all I needed after a month. March will make it three years since I was last a smoker. The longest I'd ever gone before was about 9 months - I smoked close to a pack a day of Dunhill Reds for about 10 years.
Vanity (smoking ravages the faces of women) and the knowledge that I would just have to quit again keep me from taking it up again as much as I miss it almost constantly. There is nothing as comforting as the ritual of smoking. Should I make it to my 70th birthday I've decided I'll pick it up again.
Good luck - addiction is a beast.
posted by Wolfie at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2005

My parents both took it when they quit a few years ago - they were in their mid-40s. They were cranky and irritable, but less so than when they had quit once before and used the patch/gum combo. My dad is prone to high blood pressure, and he was ok. He did end up with a medication-worth case of high BP a while after they had quit, but he and his doctor believe it was due to the weight he gained after quitting. Once he lost some weight, his BP went down to normal. They have both been smoke free for between 5-10 years and they both say it would have been close to impossible to quit without Zyban.
posted by Cyrie at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2005

I quit yesterday. It's been just over 24 hours since my last Parliament. I'm using Nicorette gum. I chew a piece whenever I want a cig. It takes horrible at first, but it has just enough nicotine to ease the cravings.

I did quit a few years ago for 1 month using Zyban. I felt absolutely no ill affects from the drug. I'm not sure if it helped me quit or not. I started smoking again because nearly all of my friends smoke and it was just too damn tempting to be with them in bars having drinks and watching them smoke. That damn peer pressure.

Because drinking with friends was part of my downfall last time, I've decided not to drink alcohol for at least 30 days. I hope that this will help me get passed this initial non-smoking stage.

Good luck to both of us.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2005

I'll vouch for Zyban as well. I've taken it as Wellbutrin and find it among the most benign of the medications I've tried.
I also can't help thinking that being willing to smoke for many years while being terrified of a medication like Zyban strikes me as thoroughly absurd. Quitting smoking can be very hard and it makes sense to give yourself every advantage. If you have unpleasant side effects, just stop taking it.
posted by Zetetics at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2005

*hides ashtray*
posted by carter at 10:09 AM on January 6, 2005

My father struggled to quit smoking for years because the environment he worked in (a diesel repair shop) was littered with smokers. Although nicotine replacement options (like the patch) physically delivered the addictive substance to his body, he missed social interaction of taking a smoke break with his coworkers.

Zyban worked wonders for my dad. After being on the prescription for two weeks, he stopped smoking entirely because he didn’t feel like it anymore.

I followed his lead and started taking Wellbutrin (my insurance would not cover Zyban.) My desire to smoke steadily decreased until it disappeared and I quit!

I had very few side effects (decreased appetite) but they were entirely worth ditching that nasty habit forever.

Best of luck to Juicylicious and Miguel.
posted by chicken nuglet at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2005

I found that after 4 or 5 days with Wellbutrin, cigarettes tasted awful, smelled worse, and offered no reward. However, I had insomnia, and nightmares when I did finally get to sleep. The next time I quit, which will be very soon, I'll discuss this with my doctor first. (My sweetheart and I had decided to quit together; when he started smoking again, I did too. Bad.) I wish you every success, Miguel and Juicylicious.
posted by Alylex at 10:25 AM on January 6, 2005

I think that I still have the remainder of my Zyban prescription. I'll look for it tonight between vicodin, percoset and xanax bottles. I'll give it a try and report back on effects, if any.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2005

Friend of mine took wellbutrin to get past some stress-induced depression. It totally worked as intended and a side benefit was that it totally kicked her off of a casual smoking habit. She was on the drug for about three months. But she did experience some negative side effects, especially when she started - Some cloudy-headedness in the evenings, and some nausea at the very beginning of the run.

On preview, what nugget describes is what she did as well. She just has no cravings any more.
posted by mzurer at 10:31 AM on January 6, 2005

I think I've noted this before, but take a look a acupuncture. While there are mixed reports as to its effectiveness it worked for me. In my late 40's when my doctor started learning and I was his 3rd attempt. 3 needles in each ear, 2 on both sides of the scalp and one into each big toe joint, with some kind of electrical gadget hooked up and connecting them. Had my last cigarette before walking in for first treatment almost 6 years ago. Did the treatment twice, second time just because the endorphin rush felt so good. No withdraw, cravings or other problems, other than the weight gain that came with quitting and slamming into middle age.
posted by mss at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2005

Miguel: If you truly want to quit cold-turkey, try cinnamon, it worked for me.

Cinnamon candies or gum will give you almost the same oral sensation, the bite, if you will, that a cigar [or cigarette] gives. For me this is enough to keep me from running out and buying a pack.

I quit last summer [fell off the wagon recently but am back on] and the cinnamon keeps me from wanting, even though I now live in a house where both the adults are smokers.

I'm working on them, my granddaughter does not need even a hint of smoke in her environment!
posted by kamylyon at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2005

I took Wellbutrin very briefly, and had side effects similar to what Alylex describes - insomnia at first, then vivid nightmares when I finally slept. After the second nightmare, which scared me enough that I was afraid to go to sleep for a few days afterwards, I quit taking it. However, I have friends who have taken it without experiencing any negative side effects.
posted by bedhead at 11:05 AM on January 6, 2005

I took wellbutrin to quit smoking a number of years ago. I quit for about 6 months, which is definitely my most successful attempt thus far. However, I had to quit taking it because it caused ringing in my ears (so loud that I couldn't hear conversations sometimes). Also, it made my emotions very raw and primal. Quick to anger, and also prone to being a bit manic. For the people who can take this drug with no side effects, I would highly recommend it. For me personally, the cure was worse than the disease.
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2005

I have taken Wellbutrin for 3 years as an antidepressant, and it's really been the only one that's worked for me. So I consider it a godsend. Not a whole lot of side effects, and the ones I do have (smaller appetite), I can live with.

The other antidepressants I've tried all had horrid side effects, and I had to stop taking them after a few days.

While I don't smoke and am not taking it for addiction reasons, I did notice a drop in my cravings for chocolate. Definitely related.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:14 AM on January 6, 2005

I took Wellbutrin to quit smoking. It's been 3 months and I've had NO cravings at all, not even when drinking.

The things that happened to me on Wellbutrin were:
-no appetite at all
-speedy feeling (I walked a LOT and went to the gym)
-unable to drink (made me feel sick)

I only took it for 7 days and that was enough.

Good luck!
posted by bikergirl at 11:37 AM on January 6, 2005

Zyban was very speedy for me, but I think my doctor told me that the dosage for smoking cessation is higher than the dosage for treating depression. Wellbutrin, by the way, isn't a generic form of Zyban; it's exactly the same drug but marketed (and, apparently, dosed) differently. It's treated differently by insurance plans, as well; lots of people have their prescriptions made for Wellbutrin in order to have it covered by insurance.

Next month it'll be five years since I last had a smoke and I have to say that I don't think I could have done it without Zyban. I stopped taking it after a few weeks because it was driving me crazy, but those weeks made it possible for me to quit, so I consider the annoyance well worth it.
posted by stefanie at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2005

Congrats to Miguel and Juicy for quitting.

I can also recommend the alt.support.stop-smoking newsgroup. My oldest brother has been hanging around there for about a year now. He also smoked cigars and hasn't had one in about 11 months. Our whole family should be poster children for addictive personalities, so I'm really proud of him.

I'm on Wellbutrin as an anti-depressant. Some nausea at the beginning, but that soon faded away. It's really made me cut down on my almost continuous snacking. It worked great on my depression for about two weeks. These last two weeks - not so good (probably going to add Celexa back into the mix). I've had (almost) daily headaches for this last two weeks as well.

Anyway, that's all I have to share in side-effects.

Regarding alcohol while on Wellbutrin/Zyban - it's a big no-no. That may explain the black-outs while drinking.
posted by deborah at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2005

I smoked upwards of two packs a day until last May when I replaced my cigarettes with nicotine inhalers. I have thought of it more as a switch to a safer method to get nicotine. I don't plan on stopping using inhalers anytime soon. I'm using far less nicotine that I did in my smoking days and I'm not inhaling loads of carcinogens. It's good enough for me, for now.

The punchline is that I'm also using Wellbutrin but to treat depression not nicotine addiction. I don't think it's had a significant effect on my nicotine cravings. As mentioned above that may be a dosage issue.
posted by stiggywigget at 2:05 PM on January 6, 2005

Another Zyban success story here. Smoked 15 years, pack-and-a-half-day, quit two 1/2 years ago and haven't looked back. The drug helps, but is not magic.

Those who report feelings of anxiety or depression while using the drug are failing to note that it's not the drug which causes that -- it's quitting smoking. Remember that for many people, nicotine is functioning as mood control and as a response to anxiety. Quitting unmasks those symptoms whether you're taking drugs or not.

You still have to work at quitting. First of all, give it your best shot, but realize that it takes long-time smokers an average of 6 quitting attempts before they succeed. Don't give up, even if this try doesn't work for you.

Second, I'll tell you my secret: The American Lung Association has an amazing, lifesaving program called Freedom From Smoking Online. It's free. It's a series of lessons and timed strategies that you read through online. It's supported by a message board that connects you other people who are the same stage of quitting you are; an incredible help and reinforcement. This program literally saved my life by making it possible for me to quit where everything else had failed. I used it in conjunction with Wellbutrin/Zyban, but didn't rely on the patch (which just extends the addiction, IMHO).

The advice given above about 'not counting the days' -- false for me and many others. You need to feel like you're gaining something, not giving something up. I celebrated each and every milestone -- a day, a week, a month, -- in fact I'm still celebrating each clean anniversary. The Freedom From Smoking recommends this, since it gives you a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. It also recommends that you plan rewards for yourself, such as purchases you buy for yourself, a massage, new pair of running shoes, whatever you dig. I still owe myself a trip to surf camp as my big quitting reward.

Anyway, try the program whether you use buproprion or not. It's great. Quitting smoking is in no way easy, and the triggers are different for everyone, so you need to find your own set of conditions that will make it possible for you. Don't give up -- keep trying. I was someone who did love smoking, but I can honestly say that I no longer miss it 2 years later, and feel a thousand times better -- and much younger -- than I did when I was a smoker.

I think my doctor told me that the dosage for smoking cessation is higher than the dosage for treating depression

That's not true- they're exactly the same, though of course the doc may prescribe them differently.

You're not supposed to drink at all on bupropion.
posted by Miko at 2:07 PM on January 6, 2005

...I should add: The reason you're not supposed to drink while on Zyban is because drinking increases the risk of seizure. The person who had 'blackouts' may have experienced small seizures.

I should add that even knowing that, I pushed it just a bit. While on the drug, I allowed myself a couple of beers on a night out maybe once a week. I made sure I wasn't alone and wouldn't be driving at all. I'd recommend those precautions. But also, part of my quitting plan involved avoiding bars and drinking as much as possible until I was very secure in my ability to resist smoking, because smoking & drinking always went together for me. Drinking was a tempting trigger, and then too your judgement is lessened by alcohol and you might think it seems reasonable to smoke 'just one'....which is a recipe for failure. So in a way, the Zyban drinking counterindication was a useful reminder not to overdo the alcohol consumption.
posted by Miko at 2:25 PM on January 6, 2005

Response by poster: Wow...Uau in Portuguese! I'm truly moved that so many of you took the trouble and time to advise and encourage me - and countless other smokers just reading - and it's had the drug-free effect of shaming me away from being seduced by my own psychological gymnastics and rationalizations into allowing myself "just six months more" of smoking. Peer pressure is a powerful drug and now I somehow feel I would "let down the side" and disappoint a lot of kind people who helped me if I were to go back on my decision.

Seriously, you have no idea how valuable reading all your experiences and suggestions has been - from complete strangers, no less! - and, as soon as I inherit the extra years of life not smoking will offer me, I intend to help others who wish to quit, in the same careful and exemplary way shown here, without finger-wagging or nannying. Doubly appreciated by knowing how disgusted and threatened a lot of you are by smokers.

I can finally go to San Francisco and back to my beloved Dublin and New York bars, for starters! :)

P.S. My wife's resolve has been strengthened too, for which she thanks you. It's a wonderful thing, the Web - and MetaFilter in particular. I say this as drily as I can, not to smother you with my present embarrassingly "brother/sisterhood of (Wo)man" feelings, which I'll indulge by arranging an extended series of fresh shrimp and salmon dinners for my already over-pampered cats.

Muito obrigados! - much obliged!

Miguel and Maria Joao

P.P.S. Esteemed Comrade Juicy: Keep going and may you have an easy passage to health. We're rooting for ya and there's a nice bottle of whatever liquid you're partial to on its way to you, as soon as we get with the program and follow your brave example! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2005

I quit smoking in 1988, my husband quit last year. We both did it cold turkey. Some things I found helpful:

1) keeping my hands busy at all times. I washed the walls, I washed the venetian blinds, all sorts of things got cleaned that summer!

2) Looking into what activities I associated with smoking, which included talking on the phone, drinking coffee or alcohol and writing. Once I was able to isolate those behaviors and replace the smoking with them with something positive, it was a lot easier.

3) Psychological self-support in the form of me telling myself how much better and healthier of a person I'd be without smoking. :)

What helped my husband quit was discovering that his feet would go numb as soon as he'd smoke his first cigarette in the morning. Then a close friend, who was a heavy smoker and drinker, died at age 50 after suffering a massive heart attack. Then the finding of blood in his urine, which led eventually to a diagnosis of diabetes. Yep, that did it for him!
posted by Lynsey at 2:46 PM on January 6, 2005

Man, if you like these tips, this support, and these inspirational stories, all delivered via the magic of the Web...then you will LOVE Freedom From Smoking. (link above). Good luck.
posted by Miko at 3:06 PM on January 6, 2005

My good friend and housemate at the time took Zyban for a month, and managed to quit smoking, so it did work and help him. The main side effect he noted was that he had nightmares most nights for a month, and was quite agitated during the day (but that could be nicotine withdrawal).
posted by wilful at 3:34 PM on January 6, 2005

My best friend assured me a good Cuban cigar after dinner, as long as I didn't inhale, wouldn't reinfect me with the tobacco addiction and I stupidly believed him.

It's very common for smoking friends or family to try to get you to smoke again. They take your success as an implicit rebuke, and they miss their old smoking partner.

Don't blame them for this behavior. It's merely human nature at work. But be on guard against it and, when (not if) it happens, call them on it. Tell them to stop it. You want support, not temptation. This is important to you. So please cut it out.
posted by mono blanco at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

Miguel I'm late to the party but I had great success with Zyban. A bit of light headedness the first few days but nothing else. On my 6th day on Zyban I had 3 cigarettes. By day 8 I was stopped. No effort on my part. This after 20 years of smoking.

It has been 5 years with no relapse. It does not bother me to be around smokers. I did not notice any ill effects when combined with alcohol. Whatever you decide I wish you luck.
posted by arse_hat at 9:00 PM on January 6, 2005

I smoked upwards of two packs a day until last May when I replaced my cigarettes with nicotine inhalers. I have thought of it more as a switch to a safer method to get nicotine. I don't plan on stopping using inhalers anytime soon. I'm using far less nicotine that I did in my smoking days and I'm not inhaling loads of carcinogens. It's good enough for me, for now.

late to the party, but similar to stiggywigget, i've successfully quit smoking with nicotine gum.

the patch/drugs didn't conceptually appeal to me because there isn't the same stimulus/response loop of feeling the craving then going for the medication. plus it gives my mouth something to do.

kicking the gum for me has been significantly tougher (still working on that part).
the fact that the gum is more expensive than amount of cigarettes i used to smoke are two marks against it, but I figure it's better than smoking.
posted by juv3nal at 10:23 PM on January 6, 2005

Large-scale clinical trials of Varenicline, a new drug from Pfizer, are currently underway. This seems to be more successful (50%) than current treatments and has almost no side effects (it's not an anti-depressant.)

I don't know if there is any process (through a doctor?) to get enrolled in such clinical trials, or if it's worth waiting until this medicine reaches the market (if it does), but the drug does seem promising.
posted by WestCoaster at 4:01 PM on January 7, 2005

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