The Basics
Stop Smoking Aids

by S2H RT Staff

Zyban was the first non-nicotine containing medication approved as a stop smoking aid. It was first originally introduced as Wellbutrin®, an anti-depressant. It went on to be developed and marketed specifically as the first of the quit smoking pills. Today, it is marketed with a smoking cessation support program, while Wellbutrin is not.

Since it is used as a stop smoking aid, it is prescribed at a slightly lower dose than its anti-depressant counterpart, Wellbutrin. This medication may not be for everyone. People with eating disorders (bulimia or anorexia), predisposition to seizures, or who drink in excess should not use Zyban. Side effects reported include dry mouth and significant insomnia.

This medication is thought to treat the underlying depression associated with nicotine withdrawal and is considered a viable alternative to those who do not wish to use nicotine replacement therapy. It may also be used for those who have already relapsed using nicotine replacement therapies in the past. By itself, it has roughly the same success rate as the nicotine replacement products, that is, doubling the success over cold turkey. Alternatively, using the nicotine patch with Zyban may actually improve the person’s chances of quitting over using the nicotine patch alone.

 An advantage to this and any option which requires a prescription, is the automatic inclusion of a physician. It also requires close follow up when someone is placed on this class of medication. Having that physician accountability and access to support likely improves the outcome when compared to anonymously buying an over the counter stop smoking aid at the local pharmacy.

This drug is typically administered for 12 weeks. Interestingly, continued treatment is associated with less weight gain, about 4 pounds less than quitting cold turkey. However, this effect disappeared when it was stopped for one year.

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