The Food and Drug Administration has raised yet another set of red flags about the quit-smoking drug Chantix. According to the feds, people who use this drug may be at risk for seizures and alcohol intolerance.

The agency says they have received reports of people having seizures after using Chantix — even if they’ve never had seizures before — and can have those seizures weeks after starting the drug.

It also looks like Chantix can be a bad mix with alcohol. Experts call it “alcohol intolerance,” but basically the problem is that if you take Chantix, and then have a drink, the effects of alcohol can be multiplied.

Meaning, one drink can now affect you like two … or 10. You can suffer amnesia, problems with coordination, impaired driving ability, aggression, and so forth. You can even suffer blackouts with minimal alcohol consumption — all in all, some scary stuff.

This isn’t the first set of warnings about Chantix. Since 2007 there have been reports of other side effects, even without alcohol. Those warnings include severe depression and thoughts of suicide.

Side effects aside, studies show Chantix is relatively helpful in kicking the habit — better than the patch or gum.

Yet its one-year success rate at staying quit is just about 20 percent at the 12 month mark.

Bottom line, the drug can be a help in walking away from a lungful of smoke, but that stroll may come with a price.

If you choose to use Chantix, be sure that your doctor explains any and all side effects. Smoking is bad enough, and many folks need all of the help they can get to throw a pack away — but you need to understand there may be a different price in your quit smoking journey.

Know what you’re getting into if you choose to use this pill as a quit smoking helper.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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