Effexor & Blood Alcohol Content
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Q:  Effexor & Blood Alcohol Content

Can you please tell me if Effexor XR can have an effect of blood alcohol content?  And if so by how much?   I've been told that Paxil can effect B.A.C. by as much as 3x's. Also, can you possibly give me any particulars that you know regarding the Effexor XR medication?

Thank you for your help.

Hi Rick

Never heard of that one.  Google search of "venlafaxine blood alcohol content" yields, among a lot of warnings about sedation when combining the two (but nothing about increase BAC), the following from a forensic specialist, i.e. somebody who ought to know.  It looks to me from the context as though they would specifically comment on the BAC issue in this paragraph if that was true:   


AUTHOR: Emily Jochimsen, Phoenix Police Crime Laboratory, Phoenix, AZ

ABSTRACT: The drug recognition expert (DRE) program utilizes a combination of field sobriety testing (FST), vital signs and officer observations to predict drug category in cases of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). Recent drug discoveries have produced a generation of medications that may not be as easily classified. Six cases were chosen for study to determine the effects of venlafaxine (Effexor) seen in DUID situations and how these effects might differ from other central nervous system (CNS) depressant symptoms. The results of the DRE evaluation and officer observations were compared with information from clinical trials. This case study indicates venlafaxine reacts much as would be expected for the average CNS depressant. However, it should be noted that venlafaxine will exhibit an increase in both blood pressure and pulse rate in contrast to the response for most CNS depressants.


Similarly there's this interesting article on how some antidepressants can mess up driving, especially if combined with a benzodiazepine, which certainly is a good reason not to combine Effexor or really any antidepressant (according to this analysis, if you read closely) with alcohol, since alcohol is very similar to the benzodiazapine (Valium and its cousins) group: 

BACKGROUND AND METHOD: The current review summarizes the major results from all published studies from 1983 to 2000 (9 double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled studies in healthy volunteers and 1 double-blind, baseline-controlled study in patients) that have determined the effects of antidepressants on actual driving performance using a standard test. That test measures driving impairment from vehicular "weaving" (i.e., standard deviation of lateral position [SDLP]) during 1 hour of on-the-road driving in normal traffic. RESULTS: Changes in SDLP after acute doses of sedating antidepressants (i.e., amitriptyline, imipramine, doxepin, and mianserin) were comparable to those seen in drivers conducting the same test with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.8 mg/mL or more. Driving performance of subjects returned to placebo levels after 1 week of treatment, except after treatment with mianserin, for which the impairing effect lasted unabated over treatment. Nocturnal doses of sedating antidepressants (i.e., dothiepin, mianserin, and mirtazapine), however, did not produce residual driving impairment when measured the next day. Nonsedating antidepressants (i.e., moclobemide, fluoxetine, paroxetine, venlafaxine, and nefazodone) generally did not affect SDLP. However, SDLP rose to unacceptable levels after administration of combinations of nonsedating antidepressants and benzodiazepines with incompatible pharmacokinetic profiles. Correlational analyses demonstrated that conventional tests of psychomotor performance or self-ratings of side effects did not strongly predict antidepressant effects on SDLP. Regression analysis revealed a strong linear relation between antidepressant effects in the standard driving test and the number of patients reporting somnolence in clinical trials with the same antidepressants. CONCLUSION: Application of actual driving tests remains essential to conclusively defining the potential hazard of drugs for driving.

If there were something to this idea of increased BAC with Effexor, I'd think it would have shown up here.  It certainly should be in the article itself, if you want to pursue this further ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12590619&dopt=Abstract   )

That's all I know on the subject.  The fact that I've never heard of this idea doesn't mean there isn't something to it; but I still doubt it.  I'll bet somebody meant that if you combine the two, it could be like having a BAC 2-3 times higher. 

Dr. Phelps

Published May, 2003


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