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Is it Safe to Combine Venlafaxine and Alcohol?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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Venlafaxine is a common prescription drug used to help treat depression. This medication can have many side effects, including but not limited to dry mouth, drowsiness, diarrhea, headache and suicidal thoughts. It is recommended by many medical professionals that people do not mix venlafaxine and alcohol. Combining venlafaxine and alcohol can cause many of the side effects of venlafaxine to intensify.

One major side effect of venlafaxine is drowsiness. Some people report feeling sleepy, weak and tired while taking the medication. Mixing venlafaxine and even a small amount of alcohol can increase a patient's level of drowsiness and fatigue, making it unsafe for that person to drive a car or perform other tasks.

Another reason it is not wise to mix venlafaxine and alcohol is that most patients consuming the drug are taking it because they have been diagnosed with depression. Alcohol has a depressive effect on the body, so people suffering from depression are encouraged to steer clear of alcoholic beverages. A rare but serious side effect of venlafaxine is that it can cause a person to want to engage in dangerous, suicidal behavior. A person who drinks alcohol when he is already having suicidal thoughts because of the medication may not have the same control over his or her actions as he or she would sober. An intoxicated, suicidal person who is on venlafaxine can put himself or herself and others at risk.

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Weight gain is a common complaint of patients who take venlafaxine for depression. Many people on this medication feel hungrier than they did before they began taking the medication. Some patients even crave unhealthy foods or have urges to eat sweets during the night. It takes a lot of will power for some people on venlafaxine to make the right choices to help keep their bodies at healthy weights. When a person combines venlafaxine and alcohol, his or her inhibitions will be down and he or she may be more likely to overeat.

A person interested in drinking alcohol while on venlafaxine should talk about it with his or her doctor. Not all patients react the same way to medications, so some healthcare providers may say it is OK for a particular patient to drink alcohol in moderation or on special occasions while taking venlafaxine. A doctor can make an educated decision about whether it is safe for a patient to drink while taking an antidepressant based on factors such as how long the patient has been on the drug, the dosage of the medication the patient takes and what kinds of side effects the person experiences.

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anon945123
Post 4

Well, I've been absolutely hammered on it. Yeah, it makes you a lot more intoxicated and the next day stinks, but that's about it.

turquoise
Post 3

@SarahGen-- It's not safe to drink wile on venlafaxine because it puts extra pressure on the liver and increases the effects of the drug.

Venlafaxine and alcohol are broken down by the liver. But when alcohol enters the system, the liver gives it priority which makes venlafaxine stay in the system longer than usual. The longer it stays, the more side effects it can cause.

When the liver is done breaking down the alcohol, it will move on to velafaxine. Depending on the medication dose and the amount of alcohol, that can be a lot of work for a liver. People with decreased liver function can have serious complications from this.

fBoyle
Post 2

@SarahGen-- I tried mixing venlafaxine and alcohol once and it was not a pleasant experience. I was doing so well on the medication and I was finally feeling better. Alcohol ruined it for me. It made me severely depressed for a few days and I even started to think that the medication wasn't working.

Combining antidepressants and alcohol can cause all sorts of physical problems, but I think the emotional and psychological side effects are more important. For someone trying to treat their depression and be positive and happy again, alcohol is like taking a few steps back instead of going forward.

SarahGen
Post 1

I've had a beer once or twice while on venlafaxine. I know that it's not recommended but since I don't overdo it and have not had any negative side effects, I think it's okay. I don't want to be an example for anyone though.

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