Side Effects of Effexor & Alcohol

Updated April 17, 2017

Taking Effexor while drinking alcohol can lead to a fatal overdose. The antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication also causes numerous side effects and can be dangerous when taken with other mood-altering drugs.

Effexor Uses

Effexor, a branded version of the drug venlafaxine marketed by Wyeth in an extended-release capsule formulation, has U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved indications for treating major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Patients receive daily doses of between 37.5 and 225mg of Effexor depending on their response to the medication. Doses should be taken with food.

Alcohol Interaction

The prescribing information for Effexor states that "in postmarketing experience, overdose with venlafaxine has occurred predominantly in combination with alcohol." The drug labelling goes on to list the results of Effexor overdose as including death, coma, liver damage, racing heartbeat (tachycardia), seizures and vomiting. People who overdose of Effexor must be taken to a hospital so health professionals can revive them, monitor their vital signs and either administer activated charcoal or pump their stomach.

Other Effexor Interactions

Patients taking other antidepressants classified as monoamine oxidase inhibitors---MAOIs---cannot also take Effexor. These contraindicated medications include phenelzine (Nardil from Pfizer) and selegiline (e.g., Emsam from Somerset).

Effexor Side Effects

In clinical trials, at least 5 per cent of patients taking Effexor report experiencing abnormal dreams, abnormal vision, anorexia, constipation, dry mouth, flatulence, high blood pressure, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, sexual dysfunction (e.g., decreased libido, impotence), skin flushing (vasodilation), sweating, tremors, and yawning. Stopping Effexor abruptly can worsen depression and side effects.


An FDA-mandated Medication Guide distributed with an Effexor prescription warns patients that taking antidepressant medication can increase suicidal thoughts, particularly in users younger than 24 years of age. Patients should stop taking Effexor and seek help if they begin feeling more depressed, find themselves thinking a lot about death or undergo substantial changes in mood and energy level.

Effexor can also cause sustained elevations in blood pressure and chronic dilation of the pupils. Patients with hypertension and increased pressure within the eyes must have their Effexor use monitored closely by a health care professional.

Generic Versions of Effexor

Several companies produce generic products that contain the same medication as Effexor, and every generic product has the same potential side effects, warnings and drug-drug interactions. Unbranded venlafaxine is manufactured by Actavis, Caraco, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Impax, Mylan, Osmotica, Pliva and Zydus.

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About the Author

Ed Lamb is a freelance writer and editor in Virginia Beach, Va. He has written widely in the fields of health policy, pharmacy practice and pharmaceuticals. He has also developed expertise in the areas of employment law, human resources and product packaging and industrial food production.