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Effectiveness of Varenicline in Psychiatric Patients with Co-Morbid Polysubstance Dependence

  • Jungjin Kim (a1), Prashant Kaul (a1), Thomas L. Schwartz (a1) and James Megna (a1)


Introduction: Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health disorders (MHDs) have greater prevalence of smoking and suffer greater tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. Varenicline is the latest FDA-approved smoking-cessation agent and few studies have investigated the use of varenicline in this difficult-to-treat population.

Aims: This study examines the smoking cessation outcomes and tolerability of varenicline when used to help quit smoking in 16 patients enroled in both psychiatric and substance abuse programme.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted on 16 patient charts. Patient demographics, psychiatric disorder diagnoses, substance use history, dosing, side effects, number of cigarettes used pre/post varenicline use and the number of complete smoking cessation outcomes were tabulated.

Results: After varenicline intervention, 25% of those who completed treatment completely quit smoking. Thirty-one per cent were able to substantially cut back the amount that they smoked to one cigarette per day. The average reduction in cigarettes was 16 per day (64%), and all but one patient tolerated varenicline.

Conclusions: The authors observed reasonable clinical benefit when varenicline was used to help quit smoking in patients with comorbid SUDs and MHDs. Better-controlled future studies with larger sample sizes will help further determine clinical utility of varenicline in this difficult-to-treat nicotine-dependent population.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Thomas Schwartz, Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse NY 13210. Email:


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