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Pristiq and Alcohol: Everything You Need to Know

Alcohol can inhibit the effectiveness of Pristiq. Pristiq and alcohol should never be mixed. Seek medical care if accidental mixing occurs.

Antidepressant medications are often used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety. One such medicine is Pristiq. 

If you are taking Pristiq, you should avoid consuming alcoholic drinks at all costs. This is due to two major reasons: 

One, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol can inhibit the action of Pristiq, which is intended to improve CNS functions such as increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels. This means that medication is no longer as effective as it should be.

Two, alcohol intensifies some of the side effects of Pristiq, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. This can be extremely dangerous in situations where alertness is required, such as when driving a car or operating heavy machinery.

Key Takeaways

Here is what you need to know about Pristiq and its interaction with alcohol:

  • Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) belongs to a class of antidepressants known as SNRIs, which decrease symptoms of depression.
  • After stopping Pristiq, people experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be unpleasant.
  • Like any other antidepressant, Pristiq doesn’t mix well with alcohol and has various side effects.
  • Effective treatment options are available to treat AUD and co-occurring depression. Options include medications, therapies, and a long-term recovery plan.

The Haven Detox-South Florida offers comprehensive treatment for all drug addictions and mental health conditions. Contact us today at (561) 328–8627!


Pristiq belongs to the class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

The active ingredient in Pristiq is desvenlafaxine. It comes as extended-release tablets and is taken by mouth. Pristiq is taken at the same time every day, with or without food.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pristiq to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. It is also used to treat anxiety disorders, menopause, panic attacks, and nerve pain.

Pristiq works on the central nervous system (CNS) to improve mood by increasing the number of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in certain parts of the brain.

This medication is often prescribed to patients in rehab centers for dual diagnosis treatment. The full effects of the medicine may take weeks to be felt.

Side Effects of Pristiq

Pristiq, like any other prescription medication, has potential side effects.

Some of the common side effects of Pristiq include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Tremors
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

You may experience none, some, or all of the above-mentioned side effects. If you do, they usually fade away or become less bothersome after a week or two of taking this medicine. In case these side effects last or worsen, consult your healthcare provider.

If you experience sexual side effects or high blood pressure while on Pristiq, they are unlikely to improve with time.

Other side effects of Pristiq can be more serious, so if any of them occur, call your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical attention.

Some of the rare but serious side effects of Pristiq include the following:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Rash
  • Low sodium
  • Teeth grinding
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Changes in taste
  • Increased salivation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble urinating
  • Risks of suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Heart attack

Pristiq Withdrawal Symptoms

As with all other SNRI antidepressants, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping Pristiq use. Consult your doctor before stopping taking Pristiq since the symptoms of withdrawal are reduced by gradually tapering off this medicine.

While these withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, they can be pretty unpleasant. 

They may include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia and tiredness
  • Nightmares

Precautions For Pristiq

Some of the precautions to be aware of when taking Pristiq to treat depression include the following:

Boxed Warning

Pristiq and other antidepressants were given a “black box warning” in 2007. The FDA prompted this label when it was determined that antidepressants could increase the user’s risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.

Young adults are more prone to experience this potential side effect. Young people using Pristiq should be monitored closely for mood swings and suicidal ideation.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol consumption while taking Pristiq is not recommended since it can reduce the effectiveness of the medicine. This combination can also lead to many serious side effects.

Liver Problems

Pristiq is broken down in your body by your liver. If your liver is not functioning well, your body may process this medication more slowly, resulting in more side effects.

To avoid this, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of this medication.

Low Blood Sodium

Pristiq can cause a low blood sodium level as a side effect, which is uncommon. If you already have this problem, Pristiq may make it worse.

Consult your doctor to determine whether this medication is safe for you. Before prescribing Pristiq, they may want to treat your low blood sodium level.

Kidney Problems

Pristiq is flushed from your body by your kidneys. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, your body may process this medication more slowly.

This might increase the amount of medicine in your body, resulting in more negative effects. To avoid this, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of this medication.

Heart or Blood Vessel Disease

If you or someone you care about has a history of heart disease or blood vessel disease, talk to your doctor about how this medicine may impact your medical condition.

A doctor can also help you understand how your medical condition may impact the dose and efficacy of this medicine and whether any special monitoring is required.

Bleeding Problems

Pristiq, like many antidepressants, can increase your risk of bleeding. If you already have a bleeding disorder like hemophilia, you may be more susceptible to this side effect.

Consult your doctor to know whether Pristiq is safe for you or not.

High Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, inform your doctor before taking Pristiq. This medicine has the potential to raise your cholesterol levels. If you already have high levels, Pristiq may worsen the condition.

Before taking Pristiq, your doctor can help you manage your cholesterol levels.

Allergic Reaction

If you have had an allergic reaction to Pristiq or any of its ingredients, your healthcare provider is most likely not to prescribe Pristiq.

Taking this medicine can cause another allergic reaction. In this case, you can ask your doctor about other treatments that best fit your needs.

Pregnancy or Nursing

Pristiq can be passed on to a child during pregnancy or through breast milk. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the risks of taking Pristiq.

Children and Teens

Pristiq doses ranging from 25 to 50 mg per day have been considered safe for pediatric patients. However, the FDA states that safety for children and teens has not been established. Therefore, the child’s doctor can advise on whether Pristiq should be used.

Older Adults

Pristiq’s cardiovascular adverse effects can be more severe in older adults. Close monitoring and, if necessary, lowering the dose quantity might help reduce the potential side effects.

Pristiq and Alcohol

Doctors usually recommend patients avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while on antidepressant medication. But why?

Mixing Pristiq with alcohol is dangerous since alcohol can worsen depression and interact poorly with the medicine.

Because alcohol affects both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, it can act as a stimulant in small doses and a depressant in large doses.

One brain chemical affected by alcohol is glutamate, which increases energy levels and brain activity. Alcohol inhibits glutamate release, causing brain activity to slow down.

On the other hand, alcohol can activate or increase the levels of an inhibitory neurotransmitter known as GABA, which lowers energy levels.

In other words, drinking alcohol can affect your judgment and result in slowed speech, movement, and the ability to think.

When alcohol and Pristiq are combined, the adverse effects of Pristiq, such as dizziness, poor coordination, and drowsiness, are intensified. The combination of the two can result in loss of consciousness, coma, and even death.

It is important to note that potentially dangerous interactions between alcohol and Pristiq can occur when the two drugs are used simultaneously. But health complications can also develop when alcohol is consumed while Pristiq is still present in the body.

Since every person’s body is different, the medication may stay in one person’s system longer than it would in another’s. As a result, it is important that patients using Pristiq refrain from drinking alcohol while on the drug.

Symptoms of Alcohol-Pristiq Interaction

A person who has consumed both alcohol and Pristiq may exhibit certain signs and symptoms. 

Less severe but common symptoms include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Lack of or the inability to sleep
  • Sexual dysfunction

If you notice any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. 

More serious symptoms may include the following:

  • Severe allergies
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Stiff, rigid muscles
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Skin rashes
  • Increased heart rate

In these cases, a person must be given immediate medical attention.

Taking Pristiq without a doctor’s advice is harmful, but taking it while drinking alcohol is twice as risky. In any scenario, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor and be entirely honest before using Pristiq.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Mix Pristiq and Alcohol

Pristiq can be very helpful in managing your depression. If medication helps you reduce your symptoms and helps you enjoy life again, that’s fantastic. But don’t let it give you a false sense of security.

Don’t think you can drink safely because your depression is under control. There are various risks associated with drinking and taking Pristiq.

Here are six reasons why you should not mix alcohol and Pristiq:

Not a Healthy Way to Manage Depression

One of the most vital things to note about alcohol and depression is that consuming alcohol can worsen symptoms and increase the severity of depressive moods.

Whether you are Pristiq or not, consuming alcohol is a poor coping mechanism that only worsens things.

Many people drink alcohol to cope with bad moods, negative feelings, stress, and painful memories. This is risky not just because it might lead to addiction but also because it does not address the root causes of those negative feelings.

Only professional treatment and good coping skills can actually assist you in processing your thoughts and moods and managing depression in the long run.

Risk of Developing Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

You are at greater risk of developing a substance use disorder if you suffer from depression. According to experts, the risk of developing SUD is double compared to those without depression.

Co-occurring mental illnesses, such as depression, with alcohol use disorder, are common and harmful. While they are treatable, managing a dual diagnosis is far more challenging.

If you develop an addiction to alcohol, it will be more difficult to manage your depressive symptoms, reduce the frequency of episodes, and quit or moderate your drinking.

If you have both an alcohol use disorder and depression, you may need more frequent and long-term treatment.

Risk of Experiencing Severe Side Effects

Like other antidepressant drugs, Pristiq has the potential to cause side effects. Drinking can enhance and worsen some of these. 

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight gain

Clouded Thinking and Judgement

The combination of alcohol and Pristiq might impair your thinking and judgment, which can be risky. Drunkenness is a state of impairment that results in poor judgment, poor decisions, and even self-destructive actions.

When alcohol is mixed with Pristiq, the effects of drinking get increased. In other words, you may become intoxicated more quickly and with less alcohol than usual.

Worsened Drowsiness

Drowsiness is another side effect of excessive drinking. This also gets worsened when Pristiq is used with alcohol. Both substances have sedative effects that slow down the central nervous system.

Both substances make a person feel drowsy and sleepy and cause poor coordination. Injuries and accidents can occur as a result of the concentrated effect of both substances.

Can Be Fatal

The high blood pressure caused by drinking while taking Pristiq has the potential to be lethal. Increased side effects or intensified impairment might result in serious health issues or alcohol poisoning.

Symptoms of depression already put you at risk of having suicidal thoughts. Alcohol only makes the symptoms of depression worse, so the risk of having suicidal ideation or engaging in suicidal behaviors increases.

Treatment For Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder

Treatment for AUD and co-occurring depression can be complex. Still, integrated treatment approaches that address both conditions can be helpful.

An integrated approach addresses both mental conditions in the same sessions or interactions, using specific therapeutic methods as part of a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan.

Effective treatment for co-occurring depression and alcoholism may include a mix of behavioral therapies, medications to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms or treat depressive symptoms, and long-term aftercare planning to help maintain sobriety.


A person seeking treatment will need to go through a detox phase before entering an inpatient or outpatient program.

Because detoxing from alcohol can be uncomfortable—even dangerous for people who have developed a serious physical reliance, it is best to detox in a medically supervised setting.

Inpatient Rehab

After a successful detox, an inpatient setting may be recommended based on several factors determined via substance use disorder evaluation conducted by a healthcare provider.

Inpatient rehab provides round-the-clock monitoring and care in hospitals or other medical centers.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient treatment provides much of the same care as inpatient treatment but is less intensive. Outside of treatment hours, patients are free to return home and continue with daily life.

 Outpatient treatment may only be an option if a person’s current physical dependency does not need inpatient treatment.


You may be prescribed antidepressants to help treat depression and certain AUD symptoms. 

You may also be given the following:

  • Naltrexone is a medicine that helps people quit drinking and lessens symptoms of depression.
  • Disulfiram is an alcohol deterrent (it produces unpleasant symptoms if you drink alcohol).
  • Acamprosate is a prescription medication that helps individuals maintain abstinence from alcohol.

Behavioral Therapies

Many behavioral therapies help address both AUD and depression. These therapies help develop healthy coping behaviors.

These may include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you learn healthy coping skills to replace the thinking and behavioral patterns that might lead to or worsen depression and AUD.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (CBT) is mainly used to help in the reduction of self-harm and suicidal conduct.
  • Behavioral activation has been shown to be very effective in treating both AUD and depression. It involves learning how negative life events and actions affect your mood and emotions, and it encourages you to adopt an active approach to increase your good life experiences.
  • Mutual support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and SMART Recovery, are beneficial for the treatment of both AUD and depression. You’ll benefit from the support of those in your shoes, which can reduce loneliness and make you feel more connected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What happens if you drink alcohol while on Pristiq?

If you are using Pristiq, you should avoid drinking alcohol. This medicine may induce specific adverse effects, which might be worsened by consuming alcohol.Alcohol can intensify the nervous system side effects of Pristiq, such as difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, and dizziness. 
Some persons may also develop cognitive and judgment impairment. While being treated with Pristiq, you should avoid your usage of alcohol.
It is also advised not to use Pristiq more than the recommended dose. While on Pristiq, avoid activities requiring mental alertness, such as driving a car or operating heavy machinery.

What can happen if you drink alcohol while on antidepressants?

If you are taking any antidepressant medication, it is generally best to avoid alcoholic drinks. The combination can worsen your symptoms, and it can be very dangerous.If you drink alcohol while on an antidepressant:
You may feel more anxious or depressed
Side effects of both substances may get worsened
Your thinking and alertness may be impaired
You may become sedated or feel drowsy
You may have trouble sleeping
You may risk developing a substance use disorder

What should you not mix with Pristiq?

Along with alcohol, there are many other drugs that may interfere with Pristiq and affect its effectiveness. These include:
Medications for depression, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (moclobemide, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine).
Street drugs such as MDMA and St. John’s wort
Drugs that affect serotonin levels, e.g., methadone, tramadol, fentanyl, dextromethorphan, and pentazocine
Medicines used to treat ADHD, such as lisdexamfetamine and dexamphetamine
Medication for weight loss, including sibutramine
Muscle relaxants, such as carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine
Opioids (used to manage pain)
Triptans (used to treat migraine)
Linezolid (used to treat infections)
Drugs that affect your tendency to bleed (e.g., Aspirin, NSAIDs, Warfarin)

What can you not mix with lorazepam?

Drinking or taking other illicit drugs while taking lorazepam enhances your chances of experiencing these life-threatening adverse effects. So, it is not advised to drink alcohol or other drugs while taking lorazepam.It is unsafe to combine lorazepam with alcohol. Both of these drugs release Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). The liver removes the GABA. However, when these two drugs are combined, the liver cannot perform as it should. 
Because the liver cannot function effectively, the overdose risks are considerably increased. Many people are unaware of this, and as a result, they overdose.

What antidepressants can you drink alcohol while taking?

There are no antidepressants that are considered safe when used with alcohol. Mixing alcohol and antidepressants can have a negative effect on the brain because both substances disrupt chemical pathways between brain cells.Some healthcare providers may say that light to moderate drinking is fine while taking certain antidepressants, such as SSRIs. SSRIs work by boosting the levels of serotonin in the brain.
However, alcohol temporarily increases serotonin levels, which can be harmful if levels become too high. This can result in serotonin syndrome, which causes dangerously high blood pressure, muscular twitching, and agitation.
It’s also important to understand that other antidepressants, such as MAOIs, have more harmful interactions than SSRIs.

Professional Care at The Haven Detox-South Florida

Drinking worsens the symptoms of depression, especially if you are taking Pristiq. Do not use alcohol as a quick fix. Instead, seek professional treatment.

Effective treatment can help you overcome mental conditions and lead a happy, fulfilling life.

The Haven Detox-South Florida can help you if you are ready to seek treatment.

Our treatment center offers a comprehensive range of treatment services, including medical detox, inpatient treatment, and therapies.

Along with alcohol addiction, we also treat all other drug addictions, such as benzo addiction, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, meth addiction, opioid addiction, and many others.

Contact us at (561) 328–8627 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you or someone you care about start on the path to long-lasting recovery.

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