Doctor review of Tabex: administration, the return of cravings, dependency, side effects
0:10 Tabex for smoking cessation: an affordable and effective solution.
2:01 What should you do if you can not follow all the instructions for administration?
3:27 Side effects of Tabex.
4:27 Will cravings return after stopping Tabex?
5:10 Does Tabex cause dependency?
5:15 When can you repeat a course of Tabex if you aren’t able to quit smoking the first time?
5:55 Can pregnant women take Tabex?
6:26 Can breastfeeding women take Tabex?
5:33 Can you take Tabex and contraceptives at the same time?
6:43 Tabex and Allen Carr’s ‘The Easy Way to Stop Smoking’.
Reporter: Irina Lisitsyna
Psychiatrist: Aleksandr Vasil’yevich Galschak
This material is for informational purposes. Please consult a doctor before starting any medications.
IL: Tabex is a very in-demand medication right now for the following reasons: firstly, because it is cheap, unlike other smoking cessation solution. Secondly, it is highly effective based on patient reviews. Is there really a better nicotine cessation aid at this price point?
AV: Alright. Here, we’re talking about a drug that helps you quit smoking. Most importantly, it is medicinal. We use the drug as replacement therapy. It contains the active ingredient cytisine, which blocks nicotine receptors in the brain, thus lowering cravings. This is only one of its effects. The second effect is that the drug causes the patient to experience indifference and even aversion to the taste and smell of tobacco smoke. Both of these qualities help to lower cravings and dependency. It is a highly effective medication.
IL: But many of the positive results of taking this medication depend on how well patients follow the treatment instructions. Former smokers have stated that when adhering to the treatment plan, the drug helped the majority quit. However, when patients took pills at the incorrect time or in the wrong dose, cravings returned.
AV: Yes. I want to start by saying that this medication is well tested. The drug has been used in practice for over 30 years. The medicine attracted attention long ago in Soviet times. The most interesting thing about the drug is that it isn’t only the treatment plan that’s important. It only helps if the smoker is of average smoking experience and level of addiction, follows the treatment instructions while decreasing the dose––in this way lowering the number of cigarettes smoked––and continues to take the medication until they have completely stopped smoking and broken their nicotine dependency.
IL: What do you say for smokers, who, for whatever reason, are unable to follow the treatment instructions exactly? For example, the smoker alternates day and night shifts or works weekends. Naturally, the patient will want to sleep after their shift. They won’t want to smoke or take medications. What should they do in this case? Set an alarm clock and wake up to take the pills?
AV: No, it’s quite simple. While a person is sleeping, they don’t smoke during this time. If the patient wakes up with the desire to smoke––that is, without cravings for food or something else––specifically cravings for cigarettes, they should hold a tablet in their mouth and suck on it. During the day, a pack of Tabex easily fits in the pocket of any uniform. You don’t need to carry around an entire box––here I’ll show you what it looks like––it’s a drug which we recommend carrying outside of the box. You can carry them in their foil packaging in the pocket where you’d typically put your cigarettes. That is, in a bag, a pocket, your glove compartment, or at work. This method is useful because there are five sheets of pills. Smokers always keep their supply at hand. There aren’t any problems with carrying around the pills. It’s a common medication; it isn’t illegal. You can take them abroad or to work. It isn’t psychotropic, so you don’t need a prescription. It isn’t toxic or highly potent.
IL: But unfortunately, there are side effects––headache, insomnia, lowered mood, and concentration problems. If it’s such an effective treatment, how can we mitigate the side effects?
AV: Unfortunately intolerance can be present when taking any medication. Because of this, we must warn patients of the possibility of these conditions. First of all: intolerance occurs on an individual basis––like an allergic reaction. Our advice is simply not to take medicine if your body rejects it. As a practising physician, I’d like to note that we don’t see this sort of thing very often. Most often it happens because of overdose, when patients, for whatever reason, don’t explore any other treatment options and only use the drug as monotherapy. Monotherapy when dealing with a complicated addiction is always misguided. There are elements of both a physical addiction and psychological addiction, so we need to use different methods to treat each––but the pills should be taken according to the instructions. Always try to follow the instructions.
IL: As far as this is a medical treatment, is it fair to say that cravings won’t return after stopping the medication?
AV: Well, here I can tell you that it helps to alleviate cravings, but it doesn’t do all the work. It offers a sense that cravings have diminished, but as in the case of all addictions, there’s always a chance the smoker will relapse. In this case, we need something a little different: we can use psychotherapy to give the patient a sense of completeness in their quitting process. In this way, I can put it behind me. I feel that the cravings have left, and there is something inside me preventing me from smoking. This is the essence of a complex treatment––when we guarantee the quality of treatment and ultimately stop the addiction.
IL: Does Tabex cause dependency?
AV: No, Tabex does not cause dependency.
IL: If the patient isn’t able to quit the first time with this drug, when can they repeat the treatment course?
AV: An unsuccessful quitting attempt with Tabex should not upset us. As a psychiatrist, I want to say that failure, in general, should not cause us to feel apathy or become discouraged. On the contrary, we should simply choose a time we feel motivated to quit––to say ‘Alright, I’ve had enough! I’m ready to quit!’. You should choose a time when you don’t have any upcoming exams, final papers, or personal conflicts. That is, we carefully select a time to quit and start again with Tabex. When taken correctly, it will help you quit.
IL: If a woman doesn’t know she’s pregnant and takes Tabex, will it affect the child’s health?
AV: Doctors generally don’t recommend taking medications while pregnant. If it were the case that a woman didn’t know she was pregnant, she would have to stop taking the drug. It is necessary to cease the treatment because it’s critical to avoid any adverse effects on the body during this time. Moreover, it’s important to quit immediately. There are no withdrawal symptoms or dependency issues associated with this drug.
IL: Is it recommended to take this medication while breastfeeding?
AV: It isn’t recommended. The patient should seek non-medical solutions in this case.
IL: Can Tabex be taken along with hormonal contraceptives? Do they have a cancelling effect on one another?
AV: In practice, we do not advise against it because they don’t interact.
IL: Many people take Tabex while reading Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.” In this way, they say it treats the physical cravings while psychologically preparing the body for the quitting process.
AV: I’m smiling because this is self-treatment, but the right kind of self-treatment. That is, using this method we prepare ourselves psychologically to quit and never return to smoking. In this way, we form a new worldview where smoking falls into the category of things we exclude from our lives: I don’t steal, I don’t kill, I don’t take drugs, I don’t smoke. At the same time, the Tabex helps us break the agonizing physical addiction. It is self-treatment, but a complex treatment.