Chantix and Not Killing People

Here’s this week’s column. It’s a little ditty about quitting smoking with Chantix.

Chantix is a drug that blocks nicotine receptors in the brain to reduce the biochemical reward of smoking and make the work to reward ratio such that one becomes, over time as the drug builds up in the system, disinclined to smoke, and the habit slowly fades away.

It’s not magic. It does require intent.

It also has the potential for some pretty exciting side effects like feelings of hurting oneself or others. But, then, so does…life?

It’s also capable of causing some pretty gnarly dreams, which I’ll admit I’ve begun to experience into this second full week of taking the medication. I used to suffer from nightmares so intense that I took a weird little blood pressure medication that somehow helped my brain not to terrify me throughout the night for years.

I’ve not needed that medication for months, so when I asked my doctor for the Chantix he was a bit concerned, although he obviously recognized the benefit of suffering debilitating nightmares over…cancer?

So I haven’t been having nightmares but it’s as if this living portion of my brain – some might call it the inner critic – has been given a legitimate power and voice. I’ll wake up from a dream that feels almost lucid and yet, as I wake up, I’ll truly believe that the events of the dream are my reality, and begin working to figure out how I’m going to pull myself out of this mess.

Last night, for instance, I dreamt that as I was arguing with Juniper over the importance of seat belts, as she’d taken the liberty of unbuckling herself and then climbing into the front seat with me, I’d accidentally driven through a plate glass window of a local business and that all of the local police, with whom I regularly need to interact for work, thought I was absolutely crazy.

I woke up for a bit, as I usually do. I am still taking benzodiazepines to help me to fall and stay asleep. They’re doing nothing for me but, hey, why not press on, eh? I spent about ten minutes in that hypnagogic pre-sleep/pre-waking stage wondering what to do about my ruined reputation, and how I could possibly afford the restitution.

In my second dose of REM, I dreamt that someone complained to my boss about my appearance and that he replied, “just try not to look at her, that’s what we do at the office.”

I was seriously lucky I was still in the paralysis stage of sleep because mentally I was pre-writing a very awful text to send poor Jonathan at three a.m. Especially when he had actually said nothing of the sort.

Anyway, this week’s column is about Chantix. 

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