Chantix and Violent Behavior

by | Feb 10, 2011

Varenicline (Chantix) is an anti-smoking drug linked to violent behavior. One site describes some of the dangerous side effects of this drug:


“Serious neuropsychiatric events including, but not limited to, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and completed suicide have been reported in patients taking CHANTIX.


“… All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicide-related events, including ideation, behavior, and attempted suicide. These symptoms, as well as worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illness and completed suicide, have been reported in some patients attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX in the postmarketing experience. When symptoms were reported, most were during CHANTIX treatment, but some were following discontinuation of CHANTIX therapy.”


The tragedy of Dallas musician Carter Albrecht in 2007 illustrates the danger of this drug. Told by his doctor that he needed to stop smoking in order to preserve his voice, Carter began taking Chantix. Soon afterwards, he complained about vivid dreams. His girlfriend reported that Carter wasn’t sure if what he dreamed was actual or real. This is a report of what happened the night he died:


“One evening, after Albrecht had a few cocktails, he started lashing out violently towards his girlfriend – something she said had never occurred before. Albrecht’s girlfriend told the Morning News that he seemed confused and terrified, and looked at her as though he did not recognize her. Somehow, Albrecht ended up at the home of a neighbor, banging violently on the back door. A call was made to 911, but before the police arrived the terrified neighbor had fired a warning shot from his rifle, which accidentally hit and killed Albrecht.” 1


Despite increasing evidence that this drug causes violent and suicidal behavior, Pfizer is denying responsibility for these effects.


The following information is from a Bloomberg News Report dated in May of 2008:


“Among the psychological side effects reported to the FDA were 28 suicides, 41 cases of homicidal thinking, 224 reports of heart trouble, 525 reports of hostility or aggression, and 397 cases of possible psychosis. There were also 173 serious injuries, including traffic accidents often associated with unconsciousness, dizziness, muscle spasms, or mental confusion.” 2


From the InjuryBoard National Newsdesk came this report, also in May of 2008:


“The chorus of consumer complaints about the drug, Chantix is getting louder and louder.


“Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration banned use of the smoking cessation drug for pilots and air traffic controllers.


“Now the trucking industry wants drivers of big-rigs to stay off the drug.


“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees the interstate trucking and bus industry.  Thursday it issued a warning to medical examiners who qualify truckers for commercial driving licenses against issuing licenses to users of Chantix.” 3


2 years after this report, Chantix is still being prescribed. In this report published in January of 2011, Chantix’s deadly side effects are discussed.


“With regard to the stop-smoking drug Chantix, although the drug carries a “black box” warning about potential psychiatric side effects, the report indicates that Chantix problems continue to be reported in large numbers, including cases of unexplained hostility, aggressive behavior, depression and psychosis.


“According to the ISMP report, the stronger warnings and a mandatory Medication Guide distributed with all prescriptions have done little to stem the tide of adverse event reports from Chantix, which outnumbers any other monitored drug for reported psychiatric side effects.” 4


There are natural ways to quit smoking. Perhaps these could be explored before one commits to taking a dangerous drug like Chantix. 5




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    I’m having the same issue. The difference is it’s me who is the one who has been taking Chantix. I have been quit for 1 month now. My agression and anger have been building. I have been lashing out at my wife, after we both retreat to seperate locations in the house. I have as well been losing control of my anger while driving. To be honest, I really need stay smoke free for my health as I have a nodule in my lung. I’m scared that I may hurt someone I love. From what I’m hearing, even after I quit taking Chantix I may continue being agressive and angry. All I wanted was to quit smoking. The last thing I need is to lose my family because they don’t have a clue what’s going on with me mentally.

  2. Sandra Rodriguez

    My husband took Chantix for the 12 week period. He has been off the drug now for about 3 or 4 weeks, but is continuing to show angry violent tendencies toward me. He was screaming at me in the car on the way to see our grand daughter yesterday and today screaming at me again after I took over the last lap of our drive because he couldn’t seem to keep the car in the lane, also complained that the lanes were not marked clearly. I could see them fine with my glasses on and I am legally bind without them. Like I said he stopped taking the drug about 4 weeks. Do the side effects subside at some point. Also when he is so angry he won’t listen to reason when I tell him it might have to do with the Chantix. He doesn’t seem to realize how frightening he is being.


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