Effexor Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

effexor pills

What is Effexor?

Effexor is the brand name for the drug venlafaxine, which is an antidepressant drug and a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Effexor is one of the most popular antidepressants in the U.S. and it is most often prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, social phobia, and panic disorder, although it may also be used to treat alcohol dependency.

Effexor is not prescribed for people with bipolar disorder as it can cause manic episodes. People taking this medication may also be at higher risk for having seizures. Similar to other antidepressant drugs, Effexor is only legally available with a prescription.

Effexor works by increasing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain by decreasing absorption. It comes in tablet form and is users taking it medically consume it orally two to three times daily with food. 

Effexor was discontinued in the U.S. but a newer, time-released Effexor XR formula is said to cause less nausea and is available with a valid prescription.

Is Effexor Addictive?

Since it is considered a non-addictive antidepressant drug, many people believe you cannot become addicted to Effexor. However, psychological addiction is possible and frequent abusers of the drug may also become physically dependent, as the withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

Slang for Effexor

The following terms are street names or slang for antidepressants like Effexor:

  • Happy pills
  • Bottled smiles
  • Miracle drug
  • Wonder drug

How Common Is Effexor Abuse and Addiction?

Although it is considered a non-addictive drug, Effexor can be psychologically addictive, especially among people who take it with other drugs to achieve a new high. People who have co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression may also abuse Effexor to try to elevate their mood more than a regular dose would.

People who abuse Effexor may consume larger or more frequent doses of Effexor than prescribed by a doctor. They may also get the tablets from friends, dealers, or buy Effexor tablets online from illegal, illegitimate pharmacies.

Although many people who abuse drugs do so to get high, Effexor will not produce a high and neither will other similar antidepressants like Celexa, Cymbalta, or Prozac . Regardless, a person may continue abusing Effexor on its own or with other drugs to try to elevate their mood, especially if they are facing difficult life circumstances like job loss, the death of a loved one, or a breakup.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much data available regarding Effexor abuse but people who are suffering from psychiatric disorders or severe substance abuse problems may be more likely to abuse it than others.

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What Are the Side Effects of Effexor Abuse?

Abusing Effexor may produce some uncomfortable physical side effects, such as:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tremors
  • Decreased libido

Psychological side effects of Effexor abuse may also include:

  • Memory problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Vivid dreams
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

What Are Common Signs and Symptoms of Effexor Addiction?

If a person is addicted, he or she may display some of the following signs and symptoms of Effexor addiction:

  • Frequently taking large doses of Effexor
  • Faking symptoms to get Effexor from a doctor
  • “Doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions for Effexor
  • Taking larger doses of Effexor than prescribed by a doctor
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit Effexor
  • Trying to stop using Effexor but being unable to
  • Losing interest in personal hobbies and interests
  • Suffering financial, physical, psychological, and relational damage caused by Effexor abuse
  • Having cravings for Effexor
  • Feeling unable to function normally without Effexor

Effexor Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

People who take Effexor regularly may experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they taper their use or stop using it entirely. Common Effexor withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Vertigo
  • Sensations that feel like electric shocks (also sometimes called “brain shivers”)
  • Nausea
  • A general mood of misery and depression

Detoxing from Effexor on your own at home is never recommended. Regardless of the duration or severity of withdrawal symptoms, you are much more likely to get sober and stay that way with professional help.

A medical detox program for Effexor addiction can provide round-the-clock assistance as you detox from Effexor and experience the withdrawal symptoms. Treatment specialists will administer medication as needed to ease your discomfort and clinical staff will provide individual and group counseling to help you process the negative emotions that often occur during Effexor detox.

Medical detox will also greatly reduce your risk of relapse, as many people return to Effexor abuse simply to relieve the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. With medication-assisted treatment, Effexor detox treatment will be comfortable, safe, and effective.

Effexor Withdrawal Timeline

There are many individual factors that will impact the duration and severity of Effexor withdrawal, such as age, body mass/fat, hydration, how often Effexor was abused, how much was taken each time, and if you abused Effexor with other drugs or alcohol. However, below is a general timeline for withdrawal from antidepressant drugs.

1-3 days after the last doseDuring the first few days of Effexor detox, mild withdrawal symptoms may start to appear.
4-5 days after the last doseWithdrawal symptoms often become more intense several days into Effexor detox and they may include nausea, shakiness, dizziness, and insomnia, among others.
1-3 weeks after the last doseWithdrawal symptoms may persist but gradually fade over time. Most often, symptoms are gone three weeks after starting Effexor detox and withdrawal, but some people may continue to experience very mild withdrawal symptoms for several months.
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Treatment for Effexor Addiction

Effexor may not be considered an addictive drug or a drug of abuse, but treatment for Effexor addiction is absolutely necessary for recovery. In many instances, after detox, a rehab program may be necessary for complete and full recovery from addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term addiction treatment lasting 90 days or more provides the best opportunity for sustained sobriety and positive treatment results. For this reason, 90-day rehab is often recommended for people with substance use disorders, including those struggling with Effexor addiction.

Effexor rehab may seem daunting and scary, especially if this is your first treatment experience, but knowing what to expect can help relieve some anxiety. During rehab for Effexor addiction, clients work closely with their peers, substance abuse counselors, addiction treatment specialists, and medical doctors to:

Effexor treatment at a rehab center is often provided using evidence-based treatment methods including behavioral therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, educational lectures, family therapy, and other specialized therapies. Treatment staff also focus on relapse prevention and management to provide a well-rounded Effexor treatment program that addresses mind, body, and soul.

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Effexor Addiction

Choosing the right type of Effexor rehab program will depend on the complexity of your treatment needs, your financial ability, and your personal preferences. Residential rehab and outpatient rehab are two of the most common types of Effexor rehab programs. Although they are both equally focused on addiction recovery, there are a few differences between the two.

In residential rehab, clients: Live at the rehab center until they have completed their rehab program Adhere to a structured daily schedule and the rules and regulations of the treatment facility Attend daily group and individual therapy sessions Have regular and immediate access to medical and clinical careIn outpatient rehab, clients: Attend a series of outpatient group therapy sessions over the course of several weeks Live at home or in a sober living home while completing rehab Complete independent assignments outside of group therapy Have limited access to medical and clinical care from addiction treatment professionals at the rehab center

Depending on your individual treatment needs, a residential rehab or outpatient rehab program may be best for you. Fortunately, you don’t have to make this decision alone. Your doctor or an addiction treatment professional at a rehab center can help you determine what type of Effexor rehab is the right fit.

Of course, the cost of Effexor treatment is an important factor that will also influence your decision. While the cost of a rehab program varies depending on its location, services, staff, amenities, and other factors, there are usually several different payment options that can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs for Effexor rehab, including:

Continued Care Options for Effexor Addiction Treatment

Effexor addiction can be difficult to overcome, but continuing care options allow you to gradually adjust to a life of sobriety with high levels of support and structure in treatment. There are several different types of continuing care options for Effexor addiction, with sober living programs and aftercare programs being two of the most common.

Sober Living Programs

A sober living program is designed to provide recovery support services and a safe living environment to people who are recovering from addiction. Also commonly called halfway houses, ¾ houses, and transitional living homes, sober living homes can be single residential homes or apartment complexes outfitted for people in recovery.

A sober living program provides structure, peer support, and a safe, sober living environment while also offering various recovery support services like:

  • Regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Peer monitoring programs
  • Tiered recovery programming
  • Employment assistance
  • Educational planning
  • Volunteer placement

With these support services and a safe place to call home, sober living clients can gradually learn how to live an independent and sober life before re-entering society after rehab.

Aftercare Programs

An aftercare program is another valuable kind of sobriety support program for people in recovery. Aftercare is specifically designed for alumni of drug and alcohol rehab programs and offers personalized peer support in a group environment.

Aftercare typically meets on a weekly basis and serves as a safe, accepting, and drug-free environment where people in recovery can meet with their sober peers and share life experiences.

Aftercare group is facilitated by an experienced addiction treatment professional who guides the conversation to allow for personal growth, encouragement, and peer support among the individuals in the group.

Aftercare is just one option for continuing care after detox and rehab, but it can be combined with other programs like IOP, sober living, or regular attendance at a local recovery support group for best results.

The causes of Effexor addiction are more complex than just having an addictive personality. At Nova Recovery Center, we can help you address the causes of your addiction, develop healthier habits, and learn how to live a fulfilling life that is free from substance abuse and addiction. Call (512) 605-2955 now to get started with your Effexor treatment.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1836/effexor-oral/details
  2. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/venlafaxine-marketed-effexor-information
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/brain-shivers-as-effexor-withdrawal-symptom-1065516
  4. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Venlafaxine-(Effexor)
  5. https://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/effexor-faq.html
  6. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0801/p449.html
  7. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants

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