MHLbannersmallSmoking cessation and Riverside's group health plan: Focus on prescription drugs

Becoming tobacco-free is one of the topics that you'll find in every issue of your My Healthy Lifestyle online newsletter. Why? Because when it comes to your health and productivity, no single behavior holds more risk. And because of the highly addictive properties of nicotine, it's good to know that you're not in it alone.

If you smoke or use tobacco products, please read these short articles. And if you don't smoke, you're bound to know someone who does, either in the workplace or at home, so you should have the information, too. In all cases, what we hope to concentrate on isn't the "why" of quitting – everyone has a good sense of that, though we may introduce some helpful reminders from time to time – but rather the "how." And here's a good place to start:

Prescription Drugs:
Prescription medications can be used alone or along with nicotine replacement therapy. Two of the most widely used prescription quitting aids are Zyban® and Chantix®. Riverside health plans cover these prescription medications.

  • Zyban, a trade name for Bupropion, is a prescription anti-depressant in an extended-release form that reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It does not contain nicotine. This drug acts on chemicals in the brain that are related to nicotine craving. Zayban works best if it is started up to two weeks before your Quit Day.
  • Chantix, also called Varenicline, works by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain. In this capacity it has two major effects: it lessens the pleasurable effects a person gets from smoking, and it reduces the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It's recommended that you begin Chantix a week before the day you quit.

A number of studies have indicated that taking prescription drugs like Zyban and Chantix can significantly increase the chances of quitting smoking when compared to taking no medicines at all. But like all pharmaceutical products they have side effects and exclusions (not everyone can take certain drugs) that you need to be aware of. Be sure to talk to your doctor about these and any prescription medications that could be part of your smoke quitting arsenal.