Effexor and Alcohol

by on May 10, 2012

The manufacturer of Effexor (venaflaxine hydrochloride) does not recommend drinking alcohol while taking this medication. This is because both of these substances affect the same chemicals in the brain. It is thought that Effexor can potentially increase the central nervous system (CNS) effects of alcohol, causing either either an increase in depression symptoms or affect psychomotor skills. This combination can also cause a certain degree of impairment of judgment and thinking.

Your healthcare provide remind you not to drink too much alcohol while taking Effexor. Does this mean it is okay to drink small amounts? Actually, alcohol is not contraindicated with Effexor but patients taking this medication are recommended to avoid or limit their alcohol intake to light-to-moderate amounts.

Moderate drinking means that you can consume one or two drinks a day. However, since the alcohol content varies depending on the type of beverage you consume, determining the safe amounts of alcohol is actually difficult. In general, moderate drinking would mean 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.

Potential Effexor-Alcohol Interactions

The effects of alcohol will vary depending on the amount consumed, and how quickly the alcohol was consumed. Some of the most frequently reported effects when effexor and alcohol are used together include:

  • euphoria
  • blackouts
  • reduced inhibition
  • confusion
  • coordination problems
  • delayed reactions
  • impairment in thinking
  • short attention span

Furthermore, abuse of alcohol or drinking large amounts can lead to more serious effects.

Some patients report an onslaught of depression and anxiety after drinking large of amounts of alcohol. It is believed that this is due to the CNS depressant effect of alcohol which is contrary to the desired pharmacologic effect of Effexor. Motor impairment is also possible and is a valid concern although there are no clinical studies to prove such interaction. Perhaps, the most serious concern with co-administration of alcohol and Effexor is the risk for increased suicidal thoughts or actions. Both alcohol and Effexor affect the way a person thinks, combining these two substances can potentiate the suicidal risk often associated with Effexor.

Alcohol can also mask possible adverse affects of Effexor. When this happens, it becomes difficult to determine whether a symptom is caused by alcohol or the medication taken. This increases the risk for serious complications. Lastly, it is also possible for alcohol to trigger and increase some side effects of Effexor.

Final Thoughts

Because of the limited studies, it is quite difficult to predict the exact interaction of alcohol and Effexor, especially at different doses. Therefore to avoid all these disturbing side effects, patients taking this medication are highly recommended to limit or avoid drinking alcohol.

Feel free to discuss with your healthcare provider any questions or concerns regarding alcohol consumption. In case, you develop unwanted symptoms after consuming alcohol, contact your healthcare provider right away.