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Friday, June 3, 2011

Chantix and SSRIs - Recipe for a ruined life even after being successfully treated.


A counseling client of Best Self USA wrote this as a warning to the general public.  Of course his identity is confidential. 

Tell me Doctor, where do I go to get my reputation back?

It seems like a lifetime ago but it has only been three years, three years, since June of 2008 to be exact. I am remembering the words I spoke as I sat in my doctor’s office with my wife and said “Look Doc, if this medicine is going to make me anxious, I’d rather have cancer” as we discussed the side effect of his proposed smoking cessation plan using Chantix. He reassured me that he could give me something for that anxiety, and that I would be “fine.” How wrong he was, and how it changed my life!

You see, I am a well-established member of the business community, a religious man, I speak the truth, and I don’t tolerate liars. Oh, I have my bad habits, but in contrast to Hollywood, I am the very model of a modern major businessman; a businessman who was about to meet the devil himself, in himself.

I have been self-sufficient all my life. I have successfully overcome the stresses of working in a family business, and eventually started my own firm, which I subsequently developed it into one of the larger corporations in its field.  Stress was an every day thing for me, which I thought I had managed fairly well over the course of a thirty-year career. What a drastic change was in store for me!

Enter Chantix. After three months I was experiencing numerous panic attacks, the inability to drive a car, muscle control problems-including the inability to negotiate short stairways without hanging on for dear life-and now an out-of-control temperament. Of course I ceased Chantix. I did that after only 6 weeks. I also ceased the anxiety control drug Xanax, and took the summer off from work.  I thought my body would regain control of itself and all would be settled in my world. I was wrong again!

By fall of 2008 the doctor had put me on an SSRI medication called Zoloft. Little did I know that this drug, too, would make me even more out of control. Added to that was more Xanax, and yet my symptoms were still out of control. And now add copious amounts of the old stand by anxiety reliever, booze. Oh, you might know that’s wrong, and I think deep down inside I did too, but when you have had your nerves blown away to the frayed extremities you do a lot of things not so well thought out.

The low point of all of this was the spiraling descent one evening into a state doctors call Id Psychology   That is not a place you want to be; acting on basic instinct, uncontrolled by brain checks and balances. Bad things happened that, to this day, I cannot remember. I damn near went to jail, almost lost my wife and my business, and wound up in a 28-day treatment program. What had happened? Was it over now? That I could be so lucky!

Fast-forward about a year later and I was still having violent mood swings (without physical violence, thankfully.)  I sought help to save both myself and my marriage, not to mention the business, which by this time was extremely unsteady.  Talk about a living hell. Why me?

I sought the assistance of a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) to help me regain control of my life. Fortunately my therapist was a Navy veteran who belonged to the Association For Intelligence Officers.  My wise therapist researched the chemical makeup of the Chantix and found out that the active ingredients were regularly used by the clandestine service bureaus, the kind with funny initials, usually in conjunction with LSD. What had happened is that by now my brain chemistry was sabotaging my recovery. The neuron pathways had become adept at “coping” by firing down erroneous routes, and were now so confounding my circuitry that I could no longer think straight. Much of the time I could barely function. I had little comprehension of what I was doing, or why. When I consider the mental wounds suffered from my alcohol fueled, anxiety driven misbehavior, along with the very perilous position such decisions had wreaked on my business, I realize how lucky I am to even be alive!

My therapist used nutrition rather than drugs to ease emotional problems  and I began to recapture my “old self.”   I am back on top of my game now, but at the time I still had a long, steep climb ahead of me.

You see, in reality, Chantix is actually a compound used to alter the endorphin receptor state of the mind. That is why those three letter agencies used its ingredients. First they bring a guy “up” on LSD, then they take the feelings away with this stuff. I have heard that, in this manner, they have been able to ruin more than a couple of miscreants (or freedom fighters, depending on whose side your were on.) What these drugs did to me was to assure that I never felt good. In fact I never felt much of anything, beyond nearly constant anxiety.

I read a recent account stating that the incidence of cases reported to the FDA increased nearly 10 times when the introduction of SSRI medications were added to the Chantix course of treatment. I think the unreported incidence level is likely to be substantially higher, as the embarrassment factor, short of suicide, is simply too humiliating for the people who were affected. I also think the wrong indicator was being measured.

Chantix, even though the drug company will not admit it, negatively affects the hyper-active, type A (sometimes called Hypo-manic; hypo meaning “just below” clinically manic) personalities. It negatively influences them significantly more than the detrimental impact it causes to the more laid-back personality types. Hypo-manic personality types are those hard-charger types that make excellent fighter pilots, CEOs and to some extent entertainers, but probably not good accountants or successful family men. These are your super-stars, the guys who launch great enterprises, but often at great cost.

Surprisingly, Chantix reporting has a much higher rate among middle-aged males than among females in general. Because of these reports I think that the “black box” label that is on Chantix today is still inaccurate. I further believe that the significant increase in symptoms when SSRIs are added is precisely because these are the people who could not recover from Chantix, with or without SSRIs.  It seems quite clear that the SSRI treatment actually exacerbates the symptoms, due to its serotonin inhibitor status.

I would like to tell you that this story has a happy ending; that it is written as a cozy, happy tale. My life, like everybody’s life, is a work in progress. There is a lot I don’t have today because of Chantix; some friends, a whole lot of money, an unblemished reputation nor a clean bill of health. I will forever be denied life insurance, and with the slightest miscue, I could lose even more. I am no longer living the life I  experienced, pre-Chantix. I am more under a microscope than I ever was. I am grateful for many friends who did stand by me, and particularly grateful to my fantastic and caring wife. I now live hundreds of miles away from my former situation, and for good reason.

I am thankful to be alive, financially healthy-despite a few nicks to the balance sheet-and enjoying a marriage that is intact and strong. I have good friends, some of them new and some loyal, long-time friends. My kids, for the most part, have adjusted. This was indeed a family affair. I am also thankful to an old soul of a therapist who dug for the underlying causes for this strange meltdown in a stable, successful man with an otherwise unblemished career. He showed me the research which revealed how Chantix can go on affecting lives years after the course of drug treatment is over. With this understanding we have repaired some of the mendable wounds which this medication has inflicted upon not only my life, but also upon the lives of countless others who have been affected. The climb back to success is a long and rigorous slope that I would never have been able to navigate without a competent and committed guide.

Several people who knew I had been on Chantix have asked about my opinion and experiences when their doctors have recommended it for them. I truly wish someone had given me some idea of what people on Chantix experience, and I surely would have looked further before thinking all would be solved by this magical “silver bullet!”


  1. it's all true. I, too, fell for the silver bullet concept. I feel like such a fool. How many of us trusted BLINDLY our doctor, pharmacist, Pfizer and ESPECIALLY the FDA? My horrific experience w/Chantix forced me to research everyone involved in getting this script filled. Big Pharma was something I never really thought much about. Received a crash course, at the age of 55, on the meaning of "corrupt."

    Long story short...I was a closet smoker 2 to 3 per day. Decided to put this stupidity to rest. Almost put myself to rest instead. Took two scripts in '07, endured two long hospital stays PLUS psyche unit in '08. Never again will I trust. Learned the hard way, no one has your back. No one.

  2. I am a 32 year old male. I took Chantix 8 months ago for only one month and successfully quit smoking but Im a wreck. Im a mental emotional mess. There is something wrong with me and I don't know what to do or how to fix it. I think its a chemical imbalance. I know I am damaged. Sometimes I feel like things are not moving fast enough. Sometimes I'm extremely aggressive. Sometimes I feel like I'm having an anxiety attack. Sometimes I feel suicidal. My wife and I have a two year old child. Just a few days ago we had an argument (which we have been doing almost daily after chantix) and she called me a few names so I packed all her clothes in a garbage bag and kicked her out. She knows I'm not the same person. I sought help from a psychiatrist but I hid a lot because I was embarrassed to be talking to a psychiatrist. I've googled almost everything I can to find a fix but I can't find anything. I started smoking again on xmas day and am quitting today. Ive also been drinking extremely extremely heavily. Someone please help me. I was a hardworking, self employed, respectful husband, caring father, and now I'm an alcoholic and try to hide from the world. Please please help me. Is there a drug I can take? An anti-depressant? I need to fix myself soon.

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