Effexor, the brand name for venlafaxine, is a prescription medication that is commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and panic disorder. It works by allowing the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine to increase, which may alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. The exact process by which this occurs is complex and not fully understood, however.
Alcohol is a commonly used substance, and many people with depression and anxiety may use alcohol even when they are taking prescription antidepressant medications like Effexor. Alcohol can interact with many drugs, including antidepressants, and sometimes this mixing can be dangerous.
Alcohol and Effexor Side Effects
Sometimes people use alcohol to help symptoms of depression, and sometimes alcohol use can lead to increased long-term mood symptoms, such as depression or anxiety. It is not always easy to know if depression leads to alcohol use or if it is the other way around. Regardless, it is important to know that using alcohol often makes depression worse in the long run, and is also associated with other health risks. These risks may be elevated by using alcohol with other medications.
Although not many well-controlled studies have been done on specific effects of using alcohol with Effexor, certain adverse effects of either substance may be worsened by mixing them. While occasional alcohol use while taking Effexor may not be dangerous, it is generally not recommended to consume alcohol while taking any antidepressant.
Since many antidepressants, including Effexor, can be associated with side effects that are similar to those of alcohol, these effects can be magnified while taking both substances together.
Side effects of mixing alcohol and Effexor may include:
- Reduced inhibition
- Coordination problems
- Short-term memory loss or blackouts
- Delayed reaction times
- Shortened attention span
- Cognitive difficulties
Alcohol and Effexor Can Cause Internal Bleeding
Effexor, like many other antidepressants, can cause bleeding problems by extending the time it takes for platelets to form normal clots. Alcohol also has a blood thinning effect, so using the two together can result in an increased risk of the following bleeding problems, some of which can be serious or life-threatening.
Internal bleeding issues caused by the mixture of alcohol and Effexor may include:
- Stomach bleeding
- Easy bruising
- Bleeding in the brain
Alcohol and Effexor: Effects on Mental Disorders
Along with the potentially harmful effects of mixing alcohol and Effexor, it is important to know that alcohol can worsen the symptoms of depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. A person who mixes these substances may experience worsened anxious and depressive symptoms, including:
- Feelings of sadness and emptiness
- Feelings of anxiety or paranoia
- Mood swings, including increased irritability
- Decreased appetite
Alcohol itself is a depressant drug, and it can counteract the effectiveness of Effexor in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is not clear how much alcohol a person would need to consume to counteract the effects of Effexor since many factors are involved.
Alcohol use essentially cancels out Effexor’s helpful effects, and worsens the symptoms of the mental health condition. Because alcohol use worsens the symptoms of the mental issues that Effexor treats, using alcohol with Effexor is ultimately counterintuitive.
The safest way to avoid worsened psychological symptoms and side effects is only to use Effexor as prescribed and to avoid alcohol use while taking it.
Key Points: Alcohol and Effexor
Several important takeaways about mixing alcohol and Effexor include:
- It is unknown whether it is completely safe to drink alcohol while taking Effexor, so if it is a concern for you or a loved one, it’s important to speak with a pharmacist or doctor
- Mild effects of using Effexor with alcohol may include increased signs of intoxication
- Severe side effects may also be possible with this combination, like bleeding problems or blacking out
- Also if you mix alcohol and Effexor, you shouldn’t drive, operate machinery or put yourself in any other potentially risky situation
- Mixing alcohol and Effexor can make symptoms of depression worse, and can prevent this medicine from effectively treating depression
If you or someone that you know is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Representatives at The Recovery Village can help you decide what treatment options could be right for you. Call today for more information and to take the first step toward a healthier life.
DailyMed. “Effexor XR – venlafaxine hydrochloride (capsule).” December 20, 2018. Accessed May 13, 2019. National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Antidepressants?” (n.d.) Accessed May 13, 2019. Watson, Stephanie. “Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?” Healthline, February 14, 2018. Accessed May 13, 2019. Crum, RM, et al. “A Prospective Assessment of Reports of Drinking to Self-Medicate Mood Symptoms With the Incidence and Persistence of Alcohol Dependence.” JAMA Psychiatry, July 2013. Accessed May 13, 2019.
DailyMed. “Effexor XR – venlafaxine hydrochloride (capsule).” December 20, 2018. Accessed May 13, 2019.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Antidepressants?” (n.d.) Accessed May 13, 2019.
Watson, Stephanie. “Does Alcohol Thin Your Blood?” Healthline, February 14, 2018. Accessed May 13, 2019.
Crum, RM, et al. “A Prospective Assessment of Reports of Drinking to Self-Medicate Mood Symptoms With the Incidence and Persistence of Alcohol Dependence.” JAMA Psychiatry, July 2013. Accessed May 13, 2019.