Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Venlafaxine (Effexor)?

In general, alcohol use while taking venlafaxine is not recommended. Venlafaxine helps to deal with mental health conditions. Combining its use with alcohol can lead to increased health risks such as worsened depression symptoms, increased risk of dizziness and drowsiness and even potential liver damage. Make sure to get medical advice and consult your alcohol use while taking venlafaxine with healthcare professionals.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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Venlaflaxine: An overview

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant medicine used to help patients with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, mood disorders and different forms of anxiety disorders for instance social anxiety disorder. It works by inhibiting the reuptake of both serotonin and noradrenaline. It belongs to the group of antidepressant medications known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or SNRI antidepressants. It is commonly sold under the brand name Effexor XR. [1]

It is a prescription drug prescribed for mental health disorders and it is also beneficial against suicidal thoughts and neuropathic and chronic pain [2]. The drug administration occurs orally.

However, like many other drugs, Venflafaxine can have side effects. Effexor side effects include nausea, somnolence, and dry mouth, and in some cases, can cause sustained elevations in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure [3].

Desvenlafaxine

Desvenlafaxine, an active metabolite of venlafaxine, is used to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. It is usually in the form of an oral tablet and prescribed to treat mental health problems. Similarly to Venlafaxine, itcan cause several adverse effects. Common side effects of desvenlafaxine include nausea, dry mouth, constipation, high blood pressure, vomiting, tiredness, feeling jittery, decreased appetite, dizziness, trouble sleeping, blurry vision, decreased sex drive, and sexual dysfunction [4].

It can also lead to more severe side effects such as serotonin syndrome, low salt levels, weakness, increased falls, fainting and other symptoms such as rash or hives.

In addition, it may cause swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs and pain in the chest, arms, back, neck, or jaw. The side effects can also impact your cognition causing difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and confusion.

Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing or breathing, fast heartbeat, cough, fever, coma, seizures, unusual bleeding or bruising, nosebleeds, small red or purple dots on the skin, and headache [5].

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Venlafaxine?

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and mixing alcohol and Venlafaxine is not recommended. Mixing alcohol and Effexor can amplify the side effects of venlafaxine such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Mixing alcohol and Effexor may also affect your thinking and judgment. [6]. If you are considering drinking alcohol while taking venlafaxine, make sure to consult this with your healthcare professional [7].

Additionally, alcohol reduces the effectiveness of venlafaxine, and drinking leads to increased alcohol consumption, which is detrimental to your health. [8].

If you are considering drinking alcohol while taking venlafaxine, make sure to consult this with your healthcare professional [7].

What Will Happen If I Drink Alcohol While Taking Venlafaxine?

Potential risks of combining alcohol while taking venlafaxine include:

  • Increased alcohol consumption - Combining alcohol with venlafaxine can lead to increased alcohol consumption [8].
  • Worsening of depression symptoms - Although venlafaxine is prescribed to help you with your mental health disorder, mixing alcohol with venlafaxine may lead to worsening symptoms of depression [9].
  • Increased risk of dizziness and drowsiness - Mixing alcohol with venlafaxine may cause dizziness and drowsiness [9].
  • Liver damage - A combination of alcohol and venlafaxine can cause potential liver damage [9, 10].

Interactions of Venlafaxine With Other Substances

Venlafaxine does not interact solely with alcohol. Other substances such as other medications, vitamins and herbs may also influence the effectiveness of venlafaxine. Therefore, it is always the best practice to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any action.

Strong interactions with other medications are specifically with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and weight loss drugs like phentermine.

Further, other drug interactions include anti-inflammatory drugs like cimetidine, haloperidol, warfarin and drugs like ritonavir, clarithromycin, or ketoconazole, drugs that cause negative effects such as drowsiness, or other drugs that can increase serotonin levels [11]. It can also interact with benzodiazepines, potentially leading to symptomatic hypotension [12].

Can you overdose on Effexor?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on venlafaxine. Overdose can lead to serious health issues such as central nervous system depression, seizures, cardiovascular toxicity, and severe rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can cause muscle breakdown and kidney damage. In some cases, venlafaxine overdose has also been associated with severe cognitive deterioration and reversible cardiac dysfunction [13, 14, 15, 16, 17]

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Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.