Pristiq and Alcohol

by on May 17, 2012

There are two main reasons a person taking Pristiq is better off not drinking alcohol. One, as alcohol causes depression of the central nervous system, it can inhibit the action of Pristiq which is intended to boost CNS functions, such as increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels. This means the medicine will no longer be as effective as it it should be.

Two, alcohol tends to intensify some side effects of the antidepressant such as dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. This is very dangerous in a scenario where alertness is required, like when a person is driving or operating high-risk machinery.

Is Complete Abstinence from Alcohol Necessary When Taking Pristiq?

Alcohol is generally not recommended for anyone taking Pristiq (Desvenlaxafine), but there are instances when a doctor might permit a patient to drink moderately. This is  when there is no existing medical condition involved that could be aggravated by the interaction. For example, if the individual has asthma, he or she may be advised to avoid alcohol completely while on Pristiq. This is because drinking may not only trigger an asthma attack, but can even worsen it, knowing that alcohol and desvenlaxafine together cause shallow breathing. Hence, complete alcohol abstinence is ideal, but if the person must drink, moderation should be observed.

There are many different versions of how much alcohol may be considered moderate, but when the purpose is to avoid Pristiq complications, only the doctor’s word must prevail. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined by the medical community as not exceeding two drinks a day, and not more than 14 drinks a week. However, when the individual drinks once or twice a week on the same day each week, this is considered as alcohol dependency and will not be medically permissible. Binge-drinking, or drinking without limits any day of the week, is tantamount to alcoholism and poses serious dangers for a person being treated with Pristiq.

Signs of Pristiq-Alcohol Interaction

Certain signs and symptoms may be apparent in a person who has consumed both Pristiq and alcohol.  Less serious, but common signs include:

  • profuse sweating
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • constipation
  • lack of or the inability to sleep
  • sexual dysfunction, among others

When any of these is observed, a visit to the doctor should be scheduled. On the other hand, more serious reactions may manifest as

  • severe allergies, including hives and swelling of the face
  • hallucinations
  • convulsions
  • stiff, rigid muscles
  • blurred vision
  • skin rashes
  • tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • difficulty in breathing or its stoppage

In these cases, the person must be given emergency care.

Taking any antidepressant without a doctor’s advice is dangerous, but taking it while consuming alcohol without medical consent can be twice as risky. In any case, it pays to see a doctor and be completely honest before taking Pristiq.