As stated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, around half of all smokers die from smoking-related conditions that could be prevented by quitting. However, quitting tobacco use can prove challenging for many people due to the body developing a dependency on nicotine. Medications like Chantix have been created to help curb cravings and aid people in their goal to quit smoking.
Understanding How Chantix Works
Unlike many other smoking cessation aids, Chantix does not use small doses of nicotine to help reduce cravings for tobacco. Instead, this medication impacts receptors in the brain that are normally associated with the chemical reaction to nicotine itself. By mimicking the effect that nicotine has on these receptors, Chantix reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which can include cravings and irritability.
Chantix also prevents nicotine from bonding with these receptors for those who still smoke while taking the medication. Continuing to smoke while taking Chantix is common for tobacco users who approach their smoking cessation plan with a crossover between beginning the medication and quitting tobacco use. This can help curb the physical dependency on nicotine while the person works on the cognitive behavioral factors that are attached to their smoking habit.
Benefits and Risks Associated with Chantix
Because Chantix disrupts the way the brain reacts to nicotine rather than using nicotine in small amounts, there is a greater chance for the tobacco user to overcome their addiction rather than relapsing due to an increased desire for higher levels of nicotine.
When combined with other smoking cessation practices, such as developing healthy habits like physical exercise, eating a balanced diet and receiving support through friends, family or a health care team, Chantix can be a uniquely effective medication for those who have repeatedly struggled to quit using tobacco.
As a prescription medication, Chantix may also have mild to moderate or severe side effects for some people. It’s important to discuss any past and present health conditions with your physician before taking Chantix. This medication alters brain chemistry through its active ingredients and this can negatively impact certain medical conditions and cause severe reactions such as seizures or cardiovascular issues.
Anyone with a history of depression, anxiety or clinically significant behavioral needs should be aware that some people have experienced an increase in their symptoms when taking Chantix. This may manifest as unpredictable changes in mood, thoughts of self-harm or harm to others and suicidal ideation. Any of these symptoms should be taken seriously and reported to the prescribing doctor immediately.
Medicare Coverage for Chantix
While Medicare Part B may cover certain types of smoking cessation assistance, it is usually in the form of counseling rather than medication. Since Chantix is a prescription drug that is taken at home, it would fall under Medicare coverage through a separate Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
Medicare Part D plans are managed by private insurers and Chantix may not be a covered prescription on every Part D plan. Each insurer establishes a formulary, or list of drugs they cover, for every plan they offer. Medications are also listed by tier, which is a measure of their expense. You may find Chantix is included on one formulary but not another, so it’s important to verify coverage before choosing a plan.
Medicare Advantage plans that offer Original Medicare coverage in addition to extra benefits may also include a Part D prescription drug plan in their package. These also use specific formularies and tiered medication categories to help recipients control their costs. Formularies can change each year, which means recipients should stay up-to-date in order to avoid a loss of coverage for any prescription medication they need.