Venlafaxine (brand name Effexor) is a prescription antidepressant medication commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. It works by boosting chemicals in the brain responsible for feelings of well-being and reward. By increasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, this drug can help mitigate symptoms related to depression and anxiety. However, venlafaxine’s precise mechanism of action is not entirely understood.
Many individuals who suffer from unaddressed anxiety and depression and abuse alcohol concurrently with antidepressant drugs. Alcohol is known to interact with and undermine the effectiveness of many medications, and, sometimes, this combination can be dangerous.
Using Venlafaxine and Alcohol: Side Effects
It is not uncommon for persons with mental health disorders to consume alcohol in an attempt to relieve depression and other emotional issues. But alcohol eases these symptoms only temporarily, and it may ultimately exacerbate long-term mood issues. It is often challenging to determine if a mental illness has led to alcohol abuse or the other way around.
Regardless, it is critical to know that using alcohol often worsens mental health problems in the long run. Alcohol abuse has also been associated with many other health risks, including liver disease, pancreatitis, and several forms of cancer.
Using alcohol with venlafaxine can cause the adverse effects of either substance to be amplified. Although occasional alcohol use may not be particularly dangerous, it is never advised to consume alcohol while taking an antidepressant. Because many antidepressants are associated with side effects similar to alcohol, these can be compounded when both substances are used in concurrence.
Side effects of mixing venlafaxine and alcohol may include the following:
- Reduced inhibitions
- Impaired coordination
- Blackouts (memory loss)
- Delayed reaction times
- Decreased attention span
- Cognitive impairments
If you combine venlafaxine and alcohol, you should never operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery or place yourself in any other potentially hazardous situation.
Venlafaxine and Alcohol and Internal Bleeding
Venlafaxine, like other antidepressants, can contribute to bleeding issues by increasing the time in which platelets can form clots. Alcohol also serves as a blood thinner, so using the two in combination can increase the risk of the following bleeding conditions:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Stomach bleeding
- Easy bruising
Effects on Mental Health Disorders
Along with the harmful effects of combining venlafaxine and alcohol, the use of alcohol by itself has been known to exacerbate symptoms associated with mental health issues. Likewise, an individual who uses these substances in conjunction may encounter even worse symptoms of mental illness, including the following:
- Feelings of sadness
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Mood swings
- Irritability and agitation
- Loss of appetite
Alcohol is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant that can undermine the effectiveness of venlafaxine. It’s unknown how much alcohol any given individual would have to consume to neutralize venlafaxine’s effects because many factors are involved. For some, even a drink or two could prove problematic.
Alcohol essentially counteracts the actions of venlafaxine, meaning that it can worsen the symptoms of a mental health condition. For this reason, using alcohol with venlafaxine is counterproductive. In other words, consuming alcohol while taking this medication defeats the whole purpose of using it. Moreover, the best way to avoid worsening psycho-emotional problems and side effects is to avoid drinking alcohol altogether while taking venlafaxine.
The most important takeaways about combining venlafaxine and alcohol include the following:
1. It is not known how much (if any) alcohol is safe to consume while using venlafaxine.
2. Using this medication with alcohol may cause either substance’s side effects to be amplified, including intoxication.
3. This combination increases the likelihood of severe side effects, including bleeding issues and blacking out.
4. Combining alcohol with venlafaxine can make the symptoms of depression more severe and prevent the medication from functioning as it is intended.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
If you are using venlafaxine and have been unable to stop drinking on your own despite attempts to do so, we urge you to seek professional help as soon as possible. Over the long-term, alcohol abuse will not improve your mood—it will just 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.
Just Believe Recovery Center is an accredited treatment center that specializes in substance use disorders. We offer comprehensive programs that feature evidence-based services proven to be highly beneficial for the recovery process.
These services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Health and wellness
- Individual and family counseling
- Medication-assisted therapy
- Aftercare planning
Our team of caring, highly-skilled addiction specialists is dedicated to ensuring that each individual we treat receives the tools, education, resources, and support they need to achieve abstinence and promote long-lasting sobriety and wellness!