Drugs to Stop Smoking

Smoking is an addicting habit that results from constant exposure to nicotine within the body. The substances contained in cigarettes and cigars can blacken the lungs and lead to such potentially life-threatening diseases as lung cancer and emphysema. Fortunately, drugs to stop smoking are available.


Varenicline, commonly sold as Chantix, is a medication that helps a person stop smoking. Varenicline is a tablet taken daily or as prescribed. Drugs.com says that this medication is often combined with counseling and behavior modifications. Varenicline’s side effects include nausea, stomach pain, headache, trouble sleeping and increased appetite. In some cases, varenicline can lead to weakness, fatigue, constipation, gas and a bad taste in the mouth. If these side effects last longer than five days, contact a doctor.

Varenicline’s serious side effects include severe headache, sore throat, fever, blistering of the skin and a skin rash. Contact a physician immediately when these reactions occur. In some instances, varenicline can lead to an allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hives and swelling of the tongue, face or throat. Call 911.


Low-dose nicotine, commonly sold as Nicorette or Nicorelief gum or Niquitin C-Q and Nicoderm patches, is another smoking cessation medication. Drugs.com says that the low dose of nicotine helps curb smokers’ cravings for cigarettes.

Nicotine’s less serious side effects include dizziness, hiccups, constipation, a headache and a dry mouth. In some instances, nicotine leads to sneezing, coughing, a watering mouth, belching, stomach problems and hiccups. Additional effects include an alteration in the sense of taste, watering of the eyes and throat soreness. Phone a doctor when nicotine’s less serious side effects last for more than five days.

Nicotine’s serious side effects include chest pain, an irregular heartbeat and seizures. Contact a doctor immediately if these reactions occur.

A smaller dose may be required for a person with heart disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, a stomach ulcer, asthma and chronic pulmonary disease.


Buproprion, commonly sold as Zyban, is another medication taken to help a person stop smoking. MedlinePlus indicates that buproprion is an antidepressant medication that also treats depression. Buproprion’s regular tablet is taken three to four times each day, and the sustained-release tablet is taken two times a day.

Buproprion’s less serious side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, constipation, weight loss and excessive sweating. Additional effects include drowsiness, excitement, weight loss and uncontrollable shaking. Contact a doctor if any of these side effects last more than five days.

Buproprion’s serious side effects include seizures, blisters, joint or muscle pain, hoarseness, confusion and a fast, pounding or irregular heartbeat. In some instances, bupropion leads to trouble breathing or swallowing, hallucinations and swelling of the hands, feet, legs, lips and face. If these reactions occur, go to the emergency room immediately.

Taking medications such as methylprednisone, theophylline, paroxetine, labetelol and isocarboxacid may require adjusting the dose of buproprion.

About this Author

Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and LIVESTRONG. She holds a Doctorate in medicine, Masters in biomedicine, and Bachelors of Science in biology from Boston College.