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I started taking Effexor XR (150MG for 3 years and 225MG for the last 2) about 5 years ago.  Prior to this, I was always had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards alcohol and drugs.  But over the last 5 years, I have gradually become a full-fledged alcoholic and Vicodin abuser.  I'm clean on the Vikes, but I still induldge on alcohol (although I limit myself to 1 beer and hour and no hard stuff).  I was reading on crazymeds.us page about Effexor has a rare side effect of turning people into alcoholics.  The parallel is just too hard for me to ignore.  It all started at almost exactly the same time I jumped in the Effexor pool.  Before that...not a problem at all.  I am clinically depressed and drinking alcohol isn't a great thing for me to do...especially to excess.  If I drink too much, I go into self-destructive funks that take a long time to get over.  I have engaged in self-injury (mostly cutting) while under the effects of alcohol.

I'm curious to hear if anyone else has experienced this or has any further information about it.  I AM NOT trying to blame Effexor for my substance abuse problems...however, I am now wondering if it didn't exacerbate or contribute to it.  I am now in the process of weaning off Effexor to Lexapro.  I'm taking 150MG Effexor and 10MG of Lexapro for two weeks, then 75MG Effexor and 20MG Lexapro for another 2 weeks, then no Effexor and remaining on 20MG Lexapro.  Is there any chance I'll see an improvement in my cravings for alcohol and drugs as result of getting off this med?  Am I jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire by switching to Effexor?

Thanks in advance for any responses.  My best to everyone out here!

John

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First off, there might be some wonkiness as you switch from the drug.  I missed one Effexor (75mg) pill one night and the next day at work, I was absolultely retarded.  When they say you get addicted, they mean it.  So there's gonna be a phase of weird during the switch.

Second, I have a few friends on Effexor.  Almost all of them had the "rare" side effect of drinking like a fish.  Now, granted, most of my friends are avid beer drinkers which is part of the reason we all became friends.  (Do you have any idea how hard it is to find women who like stouts and bitters?!)  But more of my friends on Effexor had the "drink more, drink faster, drink NOW!" effect.  Like, all but one kind of more.  (Not including me.)  I was scared when I started because I love beer so much.  But I got lucky in that the Effexor has killed my taste for alcohol.  I know that if I forced myself to have a social beer, I could very well be in the danger point of going to the "drink side."  So I don't let myself drink anymore. 

Is that an option with you?  Are you as much of a control freak as I am?  I'm a huge huge huge mega control freak, and when my body starts to crave something to a degree where I feel I'm not in entire control of the cravings, I stop eating/drinking/fucking whatever it was I was craving just to prove that I have power over it.  Is that an option for you?  Is that something you can do?  (I sometimes wonder if it's me trying to deny myself something I want as a means to punish myself for feeling happy.  But that's besides the point.)  Could you just stop drinking for a period of X time just to see if you could?  (I know it's not that easy for most people.)

As for Lexapro, while I've never been on it, a friend of mine recently started up.  It's his first venture into the world of Crazy Meds so I've been kinda trying to take him under the wing.  But he went drinking before I had a chance to explain what might happen and....  Yeah, he got fucking trashed.  He can't tell where his tolerance level is with the Lexapro.  He just keeps drinking and drinking and drinking.  And he gets quite drunk (a very happy drunk) but he feels like shit the next day because --of course-- he'd been drinking all night.

So it's still a threat with the Lexapro, is all I'm trying to say.  Just be more wary.  You know you're prone to it.  That's more than most people have already.

Good luck.  xox

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i had my reply re: my experience in the other thread, but i will say that although a lot of people have a harder time not drinking on effexor, EFFEXOR DOES NOT CAUSE DRINKING.  sure it seems like it definately does make you want to hit the booze more, but it might be important to look at the feelings that are causing you to drink. the effexor probably puts you in that mood more often and switching to lex will def help, but you gotta look at the addictive side of your personality that is coming out on effexor, because it will still exist on any medication.  switching is probably a really good plan if the lexapro works out for ya!

First off, there might be some wonkiness as you switch from the drug.  I missed one Effexor (75mg) pill one night and the next day at work, I was absolultely retarded.  When they say you get addicted, they mean it.  So there's gonna be a phase of weird during the switch.

Second, I have a few friends on Effexor.  Almost all of them had the "rare" side effect of drinking like a fish.  Now, granted, most of my friends are avid beer drinkers which is part of the reason we all became friends.  (Do you have any idea how hard it is to find women who like stouts and bitters?!)  But more of my friends on Effexor had the "drink more, drink faster, drink NOW!" effect.  Like, all but one kind of more.  (Not including me.)  I was scared when I started because I love beer so much.  But I got lucky in that the Effexor has killed my taste for alcohol.  I know that if I forced myself to have a social beer, I could very well be in the danger point of going to the "drink side."  So I don't let myself drink anymore. 

Is that an option with you?  Are you as much of a control freak as I am?  I'm a huge huge huge mega control freak, and when my body starts to crave something to a degree where I feel I'm not in entire control of the cravings, I stop eating/drinking/fucking whatever it was I was craving just to prove that I have power over it.  Is that an option for you?  Is that something you can do?  (I sometimes wonder if it's me trying to deny myself something I want as a means to punish myself for feeling happy.  But that's besides the point.)  Could you just stop drinking for a period of X time just to see if you could?  (I know it's not that easy for most people.)

As for Lexapro, while I've never been on it, a friend of mine recently started up.  It's his first venture into the world of Crazy Meds so I've been kinda trying to take him under the wing.  But he went drinking before I had a chance to explain what might happen and....  Yeah, he got fucking trashed.  He can't tell where his tolerance level is with the Lexapro.  He just keeps drinking and drinking and drinking.  And he gets quite drunk (a very happy drunk) but he feels like shit the next day because --of course-- he'd been drinking all night.

So it's still a threat with the Lexapro, is all I'm trying to say.  Just be more wary.  You know you're prone to it.  That's more than most people have already.

Good luck.  xox

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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EFFEXOR DOES NOT CAUSE DRINKING. 

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Absolutely!  Sorry if I made it sound as if that was the case.  I love beer and could very easily become an alcoholic (I've got the X factor in my family--long line of boozers) but I'm lucky to have gotten the anal-retentive-compulsive-control-freak gene too. 

Everyone I know who noted increased drinking with Effexor all liked to drink in the first place.  And they all would have been drinking whether or not they were taking their Effexor. 

I'm lucky in that I don't have the cravings.  I'm amazed that I don't, but I feel really lucky about it.

I hope Lexapro works!  My friend is really digging it!

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Like I said in my initial post, I'm not trying to blame my drinking/drugging on Effexor.  I realize that I carry the bulk of the responsibility for it.

I've recently had appointments with my pdoc, my regular doc, and my substance abuse therapist and mentioned the possible connection to them.  It was complete news to all of them.  Not one of them had heard of it before.  Their response was essentially "Yeah, you'll find a lot of crazy shit on the Internet, but I have a shelf full of big, fat books that tell the REAL truth."

I'm hoping that switching to Lexapro helps.  I realize that I've now cultivated these habits and addictions and that simply switching meds isn't going to "fix me."  However, I'm hoping against hope that it gets a little easier to stay clean.

Thanks again to everyone who has responded.

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hi,

before i became medicated i drank to self-medicate my depression. once i started taking medication (effexor and one of several different adjuncts) i reduced my drinking in the hope that the meds would take care of things. unfortunately they didn't even though i was ramped up to 225 mg effexor. i continued drinking on and off until i was able to stop cold a few months ago. in looking back at my drinking and effexor medicating i think it would just be too difficult for me to sort out WHY exactly i drank. was i simply not coping with my MI or was the effexor making me worse? not sure. but now that i have stopped drinking completely (aside from dealcoholised beer - odoul's isn't bad) i am not having cravings for alcohol at all. my family are aware of my problem with it but are comfortable drinking around me as am i because i am no longer drawn to it. i get a cold fake beer in the evening and that is pretty darn satisfying.

grouse.

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Very tough question to answer.  4 of my 5 rehab experiences were during the period I was on Effexor, also 225mg (finally weaned off it a few months ago; devil drug if you're BP)... while I can say that my using (opiates, not booze) definitely increased during that period, I wouldn't necessarily link it to Effexor in that way.  Rather that the fact that it wasn't helping me - ie it was the worst possible prescription for my (then undiagnosed) manic states - made me more inclined to self medicate.  The Effexor exacerbated rather than alleviated my excessive anxiety, and so I had more and more of a need to take more and more downers to calm down.  Perhaps that's where the alcohol comes in, as it's also a downer?  Just a thought.

Good luck with the titration - it's a bitch (I went through horrendous withdrawal; worse and longer than going off codeine) but worth it if you can push through and find the meds that are right for you.

L

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good point about the withdrawal from effexor.  i thought opiates sucked worse in symptoms but their withdrawal was only like 3 days for me, while the effexor "discontinuation" (ie - withdrawal) is like 2 weeks!!  ridiculous!

Very tough question to answer.  4 of my 5 rehab experiences were during the period I was on Effexor, also 225mg (finally weaned off it a few months ago; devil drug if you're BP)... while I can say that my using (opiates, not booze) definitely increased during that period, I wouldn't necessarily link it to Effexor in that way.  Rather that the fact that it wasn't helping me - ie it was the worst possible prescription for my (then undiagnosed) manic states - made me more inclined to self medicate.  The Effexor exacerbated rather than alleviated my excessive anxiety, and so I had more and more of a need to take more and more downers to calm down.  Perhaps that's where the alcohol comes in, as it's also a downer?  Just a thought.

Good luck with the titration - it's a bitch (I went through horrendous withdrawal; worse and longer than going off codeine) but worth it if you can push through and find the meds that are right for you.

L

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Don't know if my codeine addiction was just too severe (I was going through 1000mg every 2 days and still standing) (seriously), but it took me two weeks to withdraw off THAT.  5 days of primary withdrawal, a few days of just muscle aches/being unable to walk up stairs, then into secondary withdrawal, which as I recall has something to do with cravings triggering withdrawal symptoms or something... you'd think after 4 inpatient treatments I'd remember the reason for it, but I've blocked out the memory.

My Effexor withdrawal went on for 6 weeks. The drop from 225 to 150 was the hardest.  150 to 75 was okay.  75 to 37.5 was a bit iffy and 37.5 to 0 was bloody hell all over again.  I guess it varies from person to person.  I do tend to be hyper sensitive to side effects, which is a curse.

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Very tough question to answer.  4 of my 5 rehab experiences were during the period I was on Effexor, also 225mg (finally weaned off it a few months ago; devil drug if you're BP)... while I can say that my using (opiates, not booze) definitely increased during that period, I wouldn't necessarily link it to Effexor in that way.  Rather that the fact that it wasn't helping me - ie it was the worst possible prescription for my (then undiagnosed) manic states - made me more inclined to self medicate.  The Effexor exacerbated rather than alleviated my excessive anxiety, and so I had more and more of a need to take more and more downers to calm down.  Perhaps that's where the alcohol comes in, as it's also a downer?  Just a thought.

Good luck with the titration - it's a bitch (I went through horrendous withdrawal; worse and longer than going off codeine) but worth it if you can push through and find the meds that are right for you.

L

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This is odd, given that some people think that venlafaxine has the type of effects on opioid receptors that naloxone was designed to block. One would think that would decrease cravings. Then again, you aren't a rat.

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Very tough question to answer.  4 of my 5 rehab experiences were during the period I was on Effexor, also 225mg (finally weaned off it a few months ago; devil drug if you're BP)... while I can say that my using (opiates, not booze) definitely increased during that period, I wouldn't necessarily link it to Effexor in that way.  Rather that the fact that it wasn't helping me - ie it was the worst possible prescription for my (then undiagnosed) manic states - made me more inclined to self medicate.  The Effexor exacerbated rather than alleviated my excessive anxiety, and so I had more and more of a need to take more and more downers to calm down.  Perhaps that's where the alcohol comes in, as it's also a downer?  Just a thought.

Good luck with the titration - it's a bitch (I went through horrendous withdrawal; worse and longer than going off codeine) but worth it if you can push through and find the meds that are right for you.

L

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is odd, given that some people think that venlafaxine has the type of effects on opioid receptors that naloxone was designed to block. One would think that would decrease cravings. Then again, you aren't a rat.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

it might have helped me that i was on remeron when i switched off effexor, heres the article saying that remeron has this same opioid effect (except it seems specific to kappa3 and delta opioid receptors IIRC, while effexor hits more):

http://opioids.com/depression/antidepressants.html

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