What is Effexor?
Effexor is the brand name for the drug venlafaxine. Venlafaxine is a prescription drug approved by US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)  to treat and manage depression, social anxiety disorder, and cataplexy symptoms. This drug was discontinued in the U.S. but a newer, time-released Effexor XR formula is said to cause less nausea and is available with a valid prescription.
Effexor extended-release (long-acting) capsules are also used to treat:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; excessive worrying that is difficult to control)
- Social anxiety disorder (extreme fear of interacting with others or performing in front of others that interferes with everyday life)
- Panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of intense fear and worry about these attacks)
Effexor is in a class of selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by increasing the amounts of norepinephrine and serotonin, natural substances in the brain that help maintain mental balance. This medication may be used independently or as part of combination therapy with other drugs .
Effexor is prescribed only for those 18 years and older and should not be used in children under 18. It should be consumed with food, and patients should not take it with alcohol as combining alcohol and Effexor can lead to increased sedation.
Street name of Effexor
The following terms are street names or slang for antidepressants like Effexor:
- Happy pills
- Bottled smiles
- Miracle drug
- Wonder drug
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) , mental illnesses are common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities for some individuals. In 2019, an estimated 13.1 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment in the past year. This number represented 5.3% of all U.S. adults.
Signs and Symptoms of Effexor Abuse
Effexor dependency and abuse are extremely dangerous in the sense that they may result in undesirable social effects. An individual misusing Effexor may isolate themselves, labeling themselves as “misunderstood.” This almost always damages relationships with loved ones and at work, creating financial problems and a loss of social life.
If a person is addicted, he or she may display some of the following signs and symptoms of Effexor addiction:
- Faking symptoms to get Effexor from a doctor
- Frequently taking large doses of Effexor
- “Doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions for Effexor
- Taking larger doses of Effexor than prescribed by a doctor
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit Effexor
- Trying to stop using Effexor but being unable to
- Having cravings for Effexor
- Losing interest in personal hobbies and interests
- Suffering financial, physical, psychological, and relational damage caused by Effexor abuse
- Feeling unable to function normally without Effexor
Side Effects of Effexor Abuse
Abusing Effexor may produce some uncomfortable side effects, such as:
Physical side effects
- Stomach cramps
- Decreased libido
- Flu-like symptoms
- Erectile Dysfunction
Psychological side effect
Psychological responses to overuse:
- Memory problems
- Panic attacks
- Increased risk of suicide
- Abnormal dreams
- Confusion and incoherent thoughts
- Nervousness and anxiety
Social Side Effects
Effexor dependency social effects include:
- Impair relationships
- Hinder job responsibilities
- Financial hardships
- Become isolated
- End personal activities
Effexor Detox Withdrawal
When someone stops taking antidepressants like Effexor, they may develop a condition that doctors call antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. This condition happens in about 20 percent of people who have been using antidepressant medication for at least six weeks and then suddenly stop.
Due to Effexor’s half-life of about four hours, withdrawal symptoms occur quickly, even after missing just one dose. Half-lives are determined based on the length of time it takes for the body to metabolize one-half of the medication .
This means that if a person takes short-acting venlafaxine, they may start to develop Effexor detox withdrawal symptoms the same day or the next day after their last dose. Also, if they miss a dose of long-acting Effexor, they may start to develop Effexor detox withdrawal symptoms within a day or two.
Signs & Symptoms of Effexor Detox Withdrawal
When reducing or stopping an antidepressant, a neurochemical change takes place in the brain. As the brain readjusts to the new conditions, symptoms of withdrawing from Effexor (or another antidepressant) may include:
- Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, muscle pain, nausea)
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal sensory disturbances
Psychiatric or cognitive symptoms
- Nightmares or excessive dreams
- Problems with concentration
- Anxiety or worsening of depression
- Narcolepsy (short-lived)
- Cataplexy (loss of muscle tone triggered by strong emotion)
Effexor Detox Withdrawal Timeline
Studies show that someone can begin feeling withdrawal symptoms just hours after missing a dose. Although not commonly medically serious, these symptoms can be quite uncomfortable. Some people report feeling similar to a “brain shiver” or an electric shock when late taking their medication. No treatment presently exists for these jolt-like or “popping” sensations, which can affect up to 78% of people who take the medication.
Over time, people experience increasingly more Effexor detox symptoms, which can last for weeks. Moreover, many individuals report a return of their depression, sometimes within 24 hours of stopping their Effexor medication.
Dangers of Mixing Alcohol & Effexor
Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been properly diagnosed, usually turn to alcohol to escape. And a lot of time, alcohol use can lead to increased long-term mood symptoms, such as anxiety and depression . In fact, alcohol abuse is prevalent among people who suffer from depression. People who suffer from depression use the numbing and pleasurable effects of alcohol for that purpose.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) |5|, given that symptoms of depression co-occur with alcohol dependence in about 80 percent of patients and that 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime.
Sometimes individuals consume alcohol to help symptoms of depression. However, 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 antidepressants such as Effexor. Since many antidepressants, including Effexor, can be connected with side effects that are similar to those of alcohol, these effects can be increased while taking both substances together.
Moreover, combining drugs and alcohol with Effexor can increase the risk of side effects and complicate the Effexor detox withdrawal period. It is therefore advised that to avoid the use of alcohol while on Effexor. Not only does taking Effexor or any other antidepressants with alcohol increase the risk of overdose, but it can also lead to side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, impaired judgment, and trouble concentrating. Some other-the-counter and prescription medications may interact with Effexor poorly as well. Consult a doctor before taking any of the following:
- Any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory NSAID
Alcohol and Effexor Side Effects
Side effects of mixing alcohol and Effexor may include:
- Reduced inhibition
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed reaction times
- Decreased attention span
- Cognitive impairment
Effexor and Alcohol can cause Bleeding
Effexor, like other antidepressants, can cause bleeding problems by increasing the time it takes platelets to form normal clots. Alcohol also functions as a blood thinner, so consuming alcohol and Effexor in combination can lead to an increased risk of the following bleeding conditions:
- Stomach bleeding
- Bleeding in the brain
- Easy bruising
Alcohol and Effexor Effects on Mental Health
In addition to the dangerous effects of mixing Effexor and alcohol, it is vital to understand that alcohol use by itself has been known to worsen the symptoms of mental health problems. Furthermore, an individual who uses both of these substances may encounter even worse symptoms of mental disorders, including the following:
- Feelings of sadness
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Mood swings
- Decreased appetite
Alcohol is a CNS depressant that can inhibit the efficacy of Effexor. It’s not known precisely how much alcohol any given person would need to drink to neutralize the Effexor in their body because many factors are involved. For some, even one or two drinks could be a problem.
Alcohol essentially counteracts Effexor, meaning that it will worsen the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Because of this, using alcohol with Effexor is counterproductive. In other words, drinking alcohol while using this prescription antidepressant defeats the whole purpose.
Treatment for Effexor Detox Withdrawal
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) , the co-occurrence of alcohol and depression is relatively common. Sometimes, individuals taking antidepressants also abuse substances like alcohol if their medication isn’t working. Polydrug use like this can worsen symptoms of depression and increase the risk of addiction.
Medically-Assisted Effexor Detox
Detox is the first step to quitting antidepressants like Effexor. Drug and alcohol detox flushes a person’s system of the drugs they have consumed. People who are addicted to drugs typically have a very high tolerance for those substances. If you or someone you know is dependent on Effexor, it is important to make sure they detox comfortably and safely. Safe and comfortable Effexor detox includes assistance from a medical professional, either as part of a prescription plan or in a supervised Effexor detox setting. A doctor can slowly taper off and reduce the dosage to eliminate or ease the person’s Effexor detox withdrawal symptoms.
Counseling and Therapy
After the medically-assisted Effexor detox, the treatment can then progress to involve counseling and therapy. A therapist can help users understand and move past the underlying causes of their depression. For co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders counseling can be of real value in the treatment process. Most of the problems being dealt with likely have underlying emotional and mental stress-related issues that have not been adequately handled.
Once the root of these issues is fleshed out, building healthy thought processes and coping mechanisms can be accomplished. It can be more challenging for a person to move forward in treatment successfully if they don’t deal with their demons and do the internal self-work needed. Therapy can be individual, group, or family, giving support, advice, and accountability.
Find the Right Treatment at We Level Up NJ
Starting on the road to recovery can save you or your loved one’s life. It is important to support your loved one if they are experiencing an Effexor detox withdrawal. If you or your loved one is struggling with depression and Effexor addiction and are using alcohol to cope, it’s important that you seek support from a professional with expertise in dual diagnosis. It’s never too late to reach out for help if you are trying to cope with co-occurring mental health conditions and substance use disorders. We Level Up NJ offers a safe and medically assisted Dual Diagnosis Substance Abuse and Depression Disorder Treatment. Contact our team today!
 FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/020699s107lbl.pdf
 NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a694020.html
 NIMH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
 NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1681629/
 NIAAA – https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh40/109-117.htm
 NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860396/