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Mixing Alcohol and Effexor

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Many people suffering from anxiety and depression abuse alcohol with antidepressant drugs, such as Effexor. Unfortunately, alcohol is known to interact with and undermine the effectiveness of many medications, and, sometimes, this combination can be dangerous. Although Effexor is not addictive in the same sense as alcohol and many other psychoactive drugs, discontinuing use without professional help should not be attempted. If your goal is to discontinue antidepressants as well as alcohol, you will need to undergo detox and be tapered off Effexor.

Guardian Recovery offers integrated programs that simultaneously address alcohol use disorder and dependence on antidepressants. If you don’t feel you need addiction treatment for Effexor, you can still benefit from therapy to help you beat alcohol addiction and employ the coping mechanisms you need to maintain long-term abstinence.

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What Is Effexor? 

Effexor (venlafaxine) is a prescription antidepressant medication commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. It’s in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that boosts brain chemicals responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. By increasing neurochemicals such as serotonin, Effexor can help relieve symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Effexor’s precise mechanism of action, however, is not wholly understood. 

What if You Want to Discontinue Effexor?

Although Effexor is not believed to have a significant potential for addiction, like other psychoactive drugs, attempting to discontinue use can be profoundly uncomfortable, even debilitating. Withdrawal from Effexor can cause a complication known as “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome” (ADS). ADS refers to a collection of symptoms associated with antidepressant withdrawal. This is because regular use produces chemical changes in the brain that lead to physical dependence. 

A review of three separate studies found an average of 35% of individuals who use Effexor regularly attempting to stop “cold turkey” can cause ADS. Reported symptoms of Effexor-related ADS include transient, shock-like “brain zaps” accompanied by rapid visual disturbances and tingling sensations in the hands and feet. Patients also reported anxiety, dizziness, vertigo, upset stomach, and insomnia.

The most comfortable way to prevent ADS is to work with a medical or mental health provider who can devise a tapering regimen to help you stop using Effexor. By gradually decreasing the dose, the brain will have time to adapt to the gradual reduction of Effexor rather than experience an abrupt absence. It is typically recommended that tapering be done over at least one month.

Side Effects of Mixing Effexor & Alcohol

It is not uncommon for people with mental health disorders to consume alcohol to relieve depression and other emotional issues. While alcohol temporarily eases these symptoms, it may ultimately exacerbate long-term mood issues. It is often challenging to determine if a mental health condition has contributed to alcohol abuse or the other way around. 

Drinking alcohol with Effexor can amplify the adverse effects of either substance. Although moderate, infrequent alcohol use may not be hazardous, consuming alcohol while taking an antidepressant is never recommended. Because many antidepressants have been linked to side effects similar to alcohol, these can be compounded when both substances are combined.

Effexor & Alcohol Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blackouts and memory loss
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Reduced attention span
  • Cognitive impairments

If you mix Effexor and alcohol, you should never operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery or place yourself in any other risky or potentially dangerous situation. Notably, alcohol abuse has also been associated with numerous other health risks, including liver disease, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and several forms of cancer.

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Effexor, Alcohol, & Internal Bleeding

Effexor, like other antidepressants, can contribute to bleeding issues by increasing the time platelets form clots. Alcohol is itself is a blood thinner, and using the two together can increase the risk of brain and stomach bleeding, nosebleeds, and severe bruising.

Effects on Mental Health Disorders

Along with the harmful effects of combining Effexor and alcohol, the use of alcohol by itself has been known to exacerbate symptoms associated with mental health issues. Individuals using these substances together may encounter worsened mental health symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, moodiness, and paranoia.

Alcohol is a powerful nervous system depressant that can undermine the effectiveness of Effexor. It’s unknown how much alcohol any given individual would have to consume to neutralize Effexor’s effects because many factors are involved. But for some, even a drink or two could be problematic.

Alcohol essentially counteracts the actions of Effexor, meaning that it can worsen the symptoms of a mental health condition. For this reason, drinking alcohol with Effexor is counterproductive. In other words, consuming alcohol while taking this medication defeats the purpose of using it. Moreover, the best way to avoid worsening psychological issues and side effects is to avoid alcohol altogether while taking Effexor.

Options for Treatment

Many evidence-based treatment methods are currently available to treat drug dependence due to significant advances in the field of addiction over the last few decades. These include the following and more:

Behavioral Treatments

Individual and group therapies, led by mental health specialists, aim to change behaviors related to substance abuse by helping individuals develop better coping skills to replace their former dysfunctional ways of dealing with stress. Evidence has shown that these therapies can be beneficial for those seeking to overcome addiction.

Medications

FDA-approved prescription drugs are available to help people with alcohol use disorders quit drinking by reducing cravings or the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Medication-assisted therapy tends to be most effective when combined with a comprehensive addiction treatment plan.

Peer Support Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs offer mutual support for people endeavoring to abstain from alcohol. Combined with evidence-based, long-term treatment, mutual-support groups provide additional support for those recovering from addiction and encourage accountability.

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Comprehensive Addiction Treatment for Alcoholism

If you’ve been using Effexor and finding it challenging to stop drinking, we urge you to seek professional help as soon as possible. Over the long term, alcohol abuse will not improve your mood and is more likely to make matters worse. What’s more, it will probably undermine the effectiveness of any medications you have been prescribed that are intended to help control mood disorders.

Guardian Recovery offers medical detox and comprehensive residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs. Our customized recovery plans feature evidence-based therapies proven to be highly beneficial for recovery. Our team of caring, highly-skilled addiction specialists is dedicated to ensuring each individual receives the tools, education, and support they need to promote long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

When you call us, we will provide you with a free assessment and complementary, no-obligation health insurance benefits check. If you are uninsured or underinsured, we can also help you explore other payment possibilities, including self-pay or private pay, and options such as zero-interest financing and personal or medical loans. We will walk you through our highly efficient admissions process and help you determine which level of care is right for you. If you are ready to end the cycle of alcohol addiction for good, we can help!

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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