Out of my mind. Driven to drink

Author: Anne-Marie

(This story epitomizes what RxISK.org is all about. It shows one woman extraordinarily getting to grips with a problem she has on treatment. The hope when RxISK.org is up and running is that we will be able to make it easier for people like Anne-Marie to engage with their doctors to solve problems like this. Unfortunately even though clearly a drug-induced problem Anne-Marie does not want to be identified – DH).

I have been asked to write this story to raise awareness about a strange side effect of treatment and my efforts to get to the bottom of it.

Before my problems began I had been working as a health care assistant at my local hospital in Surrey for five years. I enjoyed my job. I had a stable life. I owned my own home and car.

Following the sudden and devastating death of my father I became anxious and over a period of a year developed a fear of choking which got worse to the point that I was avoiding food and losing weight. I realized I needed help.

I went to my GP and was prescribed paroxetine 20mg in liquid form because I couldn’t swallow the tablets. I had nausea, dizziness, felt spaced out and detached but was assured by my doctor that these symptoms would settle down.

After a few months things did start to improve. I noticed my eating had returned to normal. I felt much more energized and more confident and was able to complete a day’s work without feeling drained and exhausted. I started socializing again.

the warning reassured me it was safe enough to have a few drinks with friends

To begin with I was concerned about drinking alcohol on the medication. I checked the patient information leaflet which gave, what seemed to me, to be a mild warning that “although it is always advisable to avoid alcohol whilst taking medication there is no known interactions with Paroxetine and alcohol”. This reassured me that it was safe enough to have a few drinks with friends.

At first I was only having a few glasses of wine but slowly over time I drank more and more. I began saying and doing things I had no memory of later. I got banned from restaurants and bars in my local town and became an embarrassment to my friends. Eventually some of my close friends and family distanced themselves from me. I was losing everyone around me and losing control of my life but I just didn’t care. I felt like I was in a dream and that none of this was real.

I became verbally aggressive and my behavior was reckless. On one occasion I climbed out of a velux window and onto my roof. I was not trying to kill myself. I didn’t even consider the dangers of what I was doing.

I began to get into trouble with the police, in the main for continual nuisance phone calls to the police station. This happened on a regular basis when I was drinking. Sometimes I would ring them 20 to 30 times a night on their non-emergency number with only a very vague memory of doing so. It resulted in me getting arrested on numerous occasions.

 I began to feel that something was very wrong

After getting arrested several times I began to feel that something was wrong. I started taking time off work. I got cravings for alcohol that were so intense I felt I was possessed. I would start drinking and couldn’t stop. I’d continue until I was either arrested or I collapsed into a coma. Things were getting very out of hand. I felt alone with my problem and couldn’t understand why I was behaving like this. I felt that no one understood what was happening to me or cared.

I began to research on the internet to find an answer and I found other people reporting cravings for alcohol on SSRI medication on many websites. This really shocked me. Yet no one in the medical profession seemed to be taking any notice of it. Why? The first time I saw a psychiatrist I was told that it was due to my drinking problem.

 terrible overwhelming uncontrollable cravings 

I knew I was drinking too much but I also had terrible overwhelming uncontrollable cravings for alcohol. I printed some of the information from the internet out and gave this to my doctor and tried to explain that I thought the medication was giving me intense cravings for alcohol.

My doctor was very sympathetic but not convinced. Again I was told that I had a drink problem and was in denial. He did however agree to change my medication and prescribed me 20mg of citalopram. I was referred to my local drug and alcohol clinic.

Following the switch to citalopram over the course of a couple of months, I felt less aggressive. However my cravings for alcohol were as strong as ever and I still couldn’t stop drinking. Things spiraled further out of control. I spent time in prison, was suspended and eventually sacked from the job I loved. Even a couple of alcohol free months in rehab, where I was provided with overwhelming help and support, wasn’t enough to stop the pattern continuing as soon as I returned home.

By now I had given up on the experts … who accused me of denial

By now I had given up on trying to tell my medical team that I thought it was my medication that was causing the problems. I was accused of being in denial over the alcoholism but I was certain that these intense cravings for alcohol were being induced by the SSRI.

Before I had searched for others with similar problems, now I began searching for answers. First I googled alcohol cravings induced by paroxetine and then by citalopram. The first web pages I came across were from the depression forums and similar websites where people where sharing their stories about the same alcohol cravings and looking for answers. I came across the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, the Seroxat Users Support Group and the Seroxat Secrets website where many people were reporting the same thing.

I decided to start looking at research papers but I couldn’t find any on SSRIs and alcohol cravings. I then read a message on one of the forums that mentioned a Yale study from 1994 that had a link to serotonin. This pointed me toward reading about alcoholism and the serotonin system.

There were no easy answers to this.

I read many papers that I only vaguely understood. I had to learn all about serotonin receptors, transporters and neurons to understand the research papers I was reading. I had to leave it several times and go back to it as my head was hurting trying to understand it. I nearly gave up looking several times but couldn’t because I knew the answer was there somewhere. I learnt that there were seven serotonin receptors and was very disappointed to learn that there were even more receptors connected to these receptors. There was also only one receptor though that had a gateway to dopamine which was the S-3 receptor. I now needed to learn what all these different receptors did and to see if any were connected to cravings for alcohol. There were no easy answers to this.

Had I really been like this for ten years?

I wanted to wean myself off citalopram. I knew it was ruining my life. In the first month I couldn’t believe the change in me. I felt as if I had been given back my sight and hearing again. I felt in awe of everything around me. Had I really been like this for ten years and hadn’t realized it? Almost immediately the cravings for alcohol reduced by about 50%.

But withdrawal wasn’t easy and I went through two months of distress with extreme mood swings, panic attacks, sensitivity to noise, feeling like I had the flu with aches and pains. I couldn’t cope with this so went back to my GP and was put on mirtazapine 15mg, which was later upped to 30mg as I was experiencing restless leg syndrome at the lower dose. (I had seen on the internet that another woman had a similar experience as me on 15mg mirtazapine which disappeared at 30mg).

I realized that mirtazapine may have the answer

My cravings went completely. I realized that mirtazapine may have the answer. I knew it worked differently to the SSRIs.

I looked up medications for alcoholism and came across a drug called ondansetron, which works by blocking the S3 receptor and eliminating cravings. I discovered that mirtazapine also blocked S3 receptors.

I searched for alcoholism and S3 receptors and found that the S3 was the only serotonin receptor that had a gateway to dopamine and a paper ‘Functional Genetic Variants That Increase Synaptic Serotonin And 5HT3 Receptor Sensitivity Predict Alcohol And Drug Dependence’. I was amazed. It makes sense that if some people have a genetic link to alcoholism mediated through the serotonin system that SSRIs might increase this sensitivity and mirtazapine block it.

I have also just found another research article that was carried out on mice back in 1990’s that also found that if S3 was blocked in mice it stopped the mice from drinking alcohol.

I now know what happened to me

It’s taken me a lot of time, reading and learning but I now have understanding of why I had such intense cravings for alcohol whilst taking SSRIs.

It makes me angry that we never had warnings like they do in the United States. Why were we not being protected here in the UK with appropriate warnings in the same way? If my GP had known that SSRIs could cause cravings for alcohol in some people he would have taken me off these drugs at the very first signs of drinking.

This would have saved me years of suffering and maybe helped many other people too. I’m sure that this is a problem that is more common than people realize. In addition to all the people I have come across reporting these effects on various internet websites, I have met many people who have had similar problems or who know of people who have also had problems on these drugs.

People on these drugs are vulnerable anyway and it is worrying to think how many could be drinking to excess across the country because of a craving for alcohol caused by treatment. It’s absurd to give the impression these drugs are relatively safe with alcohol if the tablets cause some people to experience intense cravings. It’s worrying also that both the drug and alcohol can independently cause confusion, disorientation, hypomania, aggression, and obsessional and bizarre thoughts and behaviors and that the combination in some people can make this much worse.

 It has now made me look to other people’s experiences for information regarding drugs as they seem to be more accurate and honest in their findings than companies, regulators or doctors.

It’s crazy that patients have to get together on the internet to compare their side effects and discuss their problems because there is nowhere else to go. It has made me look to other people’s experiences for information now regarding drugs as they seem to be more accurate and honest in their findings than companies, regulators or doctors.

I didn’t realize until I came off the medication how bad I was. I feel ashamed and guilty for what I put people through. I have lost my job, had to move home, have a criminal record and lost the respect of family and friends. This could all have been avoided if there had been proper warnings in place and effective communications between different authorities.

I saw my retired GP in Asda recently and he asked me if I was back in Nursing. I told him no, I will never be able to go back now after what has happened to me. He said nothing and walked off. I didn’t mean to sound as if I was blaming him but I think he felt that was what I was doing. I felt guilty afterwards. I don’t blame my GP at all, I blame the drug companies and MHRA. What annoys me is that even the Department of Health wrote back to my MP basically laying the blame on the GP who they said should have noticed any changes in my behavior.

I want to tell my story as a warning to anyone who may be craving alcohol on SSRIs. I also want to tell people that sometimes it’s a mistake to leave it to the experts. And finally I want to tell doctors that your patients can often see that the information you are getting is wrong — we don’t blame you for this, we just want you to listen to us.

(The extraordinary twist in the tail here is how the regulator manages both to deny the existence of this problem and blame the doctor at the same time. This is becoming ever more common in modern healthcare systems — DH).

Since posting this it has become clear there are hundreds of people who have experienced something similar – if you have been one of them could you add your experience to this thread.


RxISK: Research and report prescription drug side effects on RxISK.org.

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You and your meds. Give the real story. Get the real story.


Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare in America, and the results are life-threatening.


Dr. David Healy documents a riveting and terrifying story that affects us all.


University of California Press (2012)


Available on Amazon.com



  1. Evelyn Pringle says:

    Very interesting story. Thanks to the author and Dr Healy for sharing it. Makes a person wonder whether the list of adverse events associated with SSRIs will ever end.

    • My story is so similar to this one. I became an over the top drunk on Paxil. I went straight to my doctor, he told me my problem with alcohol was not Paxil induced, and that I was an alcoholic and I believed him. 2 years of meetings and a rehab never slowed me down, my ability to spot weakness and to manipulate allowed me to access unlimited amounts of alcohol even during rehab. It never even seemed strange or out of place to me the fact that I got myself to rehab only to continue drinking. I would just have these brief moments of clarity where I wanted to quit drinking, only to go right back to it. Then I got of Paxil, hardest thing I ever did. I had given up trying to stop my alcohol abuse only to find that it just went away 6 weeks or so after getting off of Paxil. Despite my Dr’s opinion I discovered that Paxil actually caused my addiction and I never made the connection at the time but Zoloft did the same thing to me a decade ago, when I quit it I put alcohol behind me back then. I looked up the side effects of Paxil from the manufacturer and guess what alcohol abuse is a listed side effect. I should sue the hell out of my Dr. but the only thing going through my mind right now is I’m glad it’s over. I don’t have anything left thanks to Paxil, but I have my sanity back now that I’m off of it. I couldn’t walk down the street near the end of my Paxil experience without getting arrested. Just damn.

    • I don’t doubt it. These drugs are dangerous. I had an adverse reaction to generic celexa with 2-3 glasses of wine. It has changed my life. That was 7 months ago and I am still trying to pick up the pieces. I had taken the ssri before this ever happened because of situational anxiety and didn’t take it very long. I stopped … but all in all I was NORMAL (functioned like I always had before was productive in life, etc.) Well, one night the night of the reaction I had drank 2-3 glasses of wine and decided that I was feeling a little “blue” and thought oh, those pills the doc gave me are in there I’ll just take one. That’s when my life turned to pure hell. I had an adverse reaction… racing thoughts, fears I was dying, hot/cold flashes, insomnia, nausea, jittery, was afraid to close my eyes because I thought they would never wake up, called poison controll several times because I thought I had OD’. Long story short, since that night 7 months ago I have not been right since. Once normal and functioning now I’m not. I went to a phych for the first time in my life and he said I had GAD, antisapatory anxiety, and agoraphia. I still wonder about even this diagnosis. Honestly I still am trying to figure out what happened and how I can get better. Once normal person who successfully completed 7 years of college, raising a son on my own, was happy, was very dependable and motivated… now just a shell of a person. I had to start therapy and try to just survive daily normal tasks. This has all caused me to question myself greatly and I really don’t like that because before I was a confident person. Did the medicine mixed with the alcohol cause permanent brain damage and now I really have a MAJOR problem that will never go away?

  2. frank weir says:

    i feel strongly that your gp, and others, are simply not following up on reports such as yours. they believe the drug companies and, worse, continue to prescribe these drugs cavalierly. thanks to people like dr healy, doctors should clearly be on notice that there are severe questions about ssri’s. you should not feel like you have to go easy on your doctor! you are a victim of his not being on top of this situation. i know you will be able to re-build your life. you obviously are very intelligent and well spoken. i wish you my best.

  3. Johanna Ryan says:

    Anne-Marie, you are not alone. Here is an interesting quote from Seth Stevenson’s classic 2001 Slate magazine article, “Extroverted Like Me”:

    “Pre-Paxil, I was a social drinker. Now I’m walking a mile in someone else’s brain chemistry. I can see why some of you like to drink so much, maybe even need to drink so much. It’s fun for me now, in a way it just wasn’t before. On liquor and Paxil, strangers mean novelty, not fear. Group conversations are a chance to play raconteur, not a chance to smile weakly and shut up.

    “And it’s so much better than sobriety. Sober for me these days means extreme detachment. Movies, once a favorite hobby, do nothing for me now. Likewise books—I just don’t connect with the plots or characters. I can’t recall laughing (while sober) in the past couple of weeks. I’m never sad, but never happy. Why wouldn’t I drink?”

    Sad to say, this warning still is not delivered to patients prescribed Paxil here in the States. At most, we’re given the generic “alcohol may increase the side effects – use caution when operating heavy machinery” line that comes with half the meds in the pharmacy. Even recovering alcoholics are routinely prescribed SSRI’s with no special cautions.

    I salute your diligence and brains for hitting the medical journals and figuring out the probable basis for this effect. It is, quite literally, crazy that as patients we are driven to doing our own research on this level. Yet it’s unfortunately very necessary … more and more often I find that doctors are not aware even of the side effects that the drug companies admit to in their direct-to-consumer advertisements.

    • Wow Johanna, that’s important insight. When my son was on Celexa he also lost interest in things he used to love, like films, and he suddenly started to drink way too much way too often, and his doctor blamed him. Now I understand that it was probably the drug. I can’t ask my son, he is dead, having committed suicide, which I believe was also drug-related. I am so angry that nobody tells the person or their family the truth about these drugs. However when people who know first hand talk about their experience, they are providing important education. THANKS.

  4. Well done Anne-Maire your family in Ireland are so proud of you and what you have achieved.

  5. Dr. Z A L says:

    This is quite an exceptional article. Congratulations. It is very clear, logical and informative. It is also reflecting the amount of study which went into your research.
    It is so good that I am wondering: Should You not go public ? It would, probably, raise the attention of the media; but why not ? You have nothing to loose and it may lead to the legal review of your case. You wouestimn 303ld deserve it.

  6. I had a friend who had a drinking problem. Long before I meant him he had been to treatment and quit drinking for several years. A life event caused him depression years later and he was given paxil by his gp. He again started drinking and struggled with programs to quit he did several dry out program over the years I knew him. When he was leaving each time they put him on an ssri. The last time he left one of these programs he was given celexa and died of a brain bleed within the month.
    Lives are sadly affected by lack of knowledge thank you for posting your story I hope it helps many I know it has the potential to help many problem is most people will not find the information about these drugs until long after they are hurt by them. Still we have to start some place and this is a start. I thank you again.

  7. Ty Hayward says:

    I am so proud of you writing this story Anne Marie, you have been through hell over the last 10 years. Even reading this I can see you are a much stronger person. now is the time for you to hit back at the authorities and clear your name. you have done nothing wrong, all you took was the medication you were given, somebody has to be accountable for what has happened to you.

    • That is so right!! You have not done anything wrong, you are a victim of this travesty. You’re name should be cleared and someone should be held accountable.

  8. Hi Anne Marie

    This is an excellent story and a valuable account of what you went through over a very long period of time. It is a very well written article and hopefully it will help other people find comfort and help them find an understanding to what they are going through as well, when faced with a similar situation. You have my deepest sympathy for what you went through. However, thankfully you have come through it and are now able to pass on your experiences and also help others by passing on to them, in your article, all the research that you have gathered over the years. Your article I believe will help others who are having similar difficulties and problems and perhaps don’t know what to do. This is a very praiseworthy thing that you have done and your article is also very valuable and beneficial to those in the medical field as it furthers knowledge and understanding of these medications. You deserve our deepest gratitude for your well written article.


  9. I just finished a personal blog entry on my craving for alcohol whilst on paxil/paroxetine and found your post only after publishing it. Although the SSRI’s have helped me a few times, I had no idea that the craving was related to taking them. Thank you for telling us your story and for finding the answers I only just started looking for. I am sorry it has caused you so much hardship to get there though. Be safe.

  10. I, too, admire your tenacity in finding your road to recovery. I would like to present a story that may be helpful to anyone who is unfortunate enough to reach the point of alcohol ingestion at which sudden cessation could be dangerous. The recommended treatment for delirium tremens is large doses of BZPs of all kinds, occasionally antipsychotics, phenobarbital, propofol and, one would think, directions to throw everything at the patient and see what sticks, including SSRIs. It is not recommended that alcohol be used in the treatment of DTs but this is not always true. I had the experience of working in a Veterans’ hospital with a medical director of what we will call the “old school.” He was opposed to excessive use of all sorts of medications except those that had been around for a while and he was confident would be effective with few, if any, adverse effects. We had a new admission of a 59 year old man who had had a second stroke, probably related to his alcoholism, and, at least for the foreseeable future, could not swallow so that there was considerable concern about a) preventing DTs and b) getting him off alcohol – he was going to be a permanent resident in the hospital. I was asked if I could think of an alternate way of achieving this. After some thought, I did the following:
    1) Explained to the patient that we would be giving him some of his preferred tipple but
    2) He would have to learn to pass a tube through his mouth into his esophagus and
    3) He would receive the liquor this way then he would remove the tube until the next “drink”.
    The stroke had destroyed his gag reflex (although, contrary to popular opinion the gag has nothing to do with the ability to swallow) so passing the tube was easy. He insisted that the whiskey he preferred be mixed with ginger ale, and that turned out to be most helpful. He got his “prescription” three times a day with a drop or two placed on his tongue for taste but, unbeknownst to him, very gradually the amount of ginger ale increased as the whiskey decreased until he was off alcohol in three weeks. He still received the ginger ale with the taste of whiskey on the tongue and after about six weeks, he announced that he “didn’t need to drink any more.”
    I relate this tale as an example of what I fear has disappeared from medicine. Common sense and a little ingenuity. Of course there are many life-saving drugs that no-one would want to avoid but even these are tiny doses of poison, some quite literally as in rat poison for certain clotting disorders (Warfarin) and foxglove (Digitalis).
    We seem to have forgotten that a little tincture of compassion and support may be at least as effective as any drug for the “treatment” of melancholia, dysthymia, anxiety and similar ills that humans are heir to.

  11. thanks for posting this. i am like this with junk food.

    since being on seroxat/paxil i have been overweight – i was never overweight or had these massive craving pre seroxat.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    Mel Gibson also went crazy on antidepressants, he also craved alcohol on them. Im glad there is more and more stories coming out about this. People should keep reporting these side effects, its very important that they do.

    Mounting evidence suggests that Mel Gibson was a victim of a first
    generation depression drug.


    Winnipeg, Canada 8/28/2006 6:59 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)
    After Mel Gibson’s uncharacteristic rant about Jews during his DUI
    arrest, people were left scratching their heads. “What’s wrong with
    Mel?” people around the world exclaimed. .12 is not a sufficiently
    high blood alcohol level to account for Mel’s bizarre and disturbing
    behavior. People are wondering aloud what is really happening with

    It is very likely that Mr. Gibson was a victim of the anti-
    depressant medication known as Effexor. In addition to the
    manufacturer Wyeth’s warning about the possibility of its patients’
    increased risk of suicide, there is mounting evidence on
    the Internet that this widely distributed drug is inducing alcohol
    abuse and psychoses in many of its patients, and therefore, should
    only be given as a last resort to long-term depression sufferers
    under tightly-controlled conditions.
    Examine for yourselves the following evidence:

    other-prescribed drugs.htm

  13. Anne-Marie says:

    Just had to post this comment as this person describes the combination of SSRIS and Alcohol very well, this is similar to how I felt. This has been copied from ANXIETYZONE.COM

    Weird reaction to alcohol on SSRI’s?

    « on: May 30, 2009, 07:41:29 PM »

    Is it just me, or has anyone else had anything like this.

    Since being on an SSRI (cilift) if I drink any alcohol I have this strange reaction.

    Like normally if you drink a few drinks eventually you will feel tiddly, like you have drunk too much, or eventually you would get sick, and either go to bed, or pass out or whatever.

    Ever since being on SSRI meds, if I drink a weird thing happens. I never feel like I have drunk enough, I feel like drinking more, but I NEVER get sick or feel like I should stop.

    Eventually I am so drunk that my mind has actually blacked out but somehow I am functioning. The SSRI cancels out the ability to recognise I have drunk too much and I could theoretically drink for ever. I do things that I never remember and often weird or embarrassing things.

    The next day I cant remember a thing. It was like my mind was passed out but my body keeps going on autopilot, but does embarrassing things.

    I told my doctor and he’d never heard of such a thing and said you shouldnt drink anything on SSRIs.

    Has anyone ever had anything like this? Or is it just me?



  14. Anne-Marie says:

    This story always bothered me and I dont think it was ever recognised that Mark Saunders was also probably suffering from intense alcohol cravings induced by his antidepressant.

    Siege Barrister shot dead by police had been taking anti-depressants

    The wealthy barrister shot dead by police marksmen at his luxury home had been taking anti-depressant drugs for several months. Friends of Mark Saunders, 32, who was killed by at least five bullet wounds, have revealed that he had been on prescription drugs for depression and had behaved ‘erratically’ when drinking alcohol, as he did on the day he died

    Full Story:

    21 May 2012

  15. What a great, well written article. Whilst GP’s undoubtedly try and do their best to help their patients, this seems to be a case of ignorance on the Practitioners part when prescribing drugs that can have profound affects on the patients. I know Anne who write this article, and applaud her for sharing her ordeal with everyone. Whilst I was shocked to hear of her problems at the time, not for one minute did I, or any of my family doubt her. We knew that this behaviour was not down to Alcohol, and the current findings and stories about other people I her situation seem to confirm it was the wrong drug at the wrong time for Anne. Hope you can re-build your life Anne, incredibly proud of you as was my late sister. Good luck with the rehabilitation.

  16. Anthony says:

    I experienced exactly the same thing, i was perscribed venlafaxine for 2 years. Whenever i would drink I couldnt stop, it felt so good like i was cured and the old me was back. I ended up getting so drunk and making a fool of myself, often starting fights with groups of other males, i had no fear, the worst of all i would wake up the next day with no recollection of what i had done. Friends started to disown me and call me to warn me of my behaviour. I was acting totally out of character. I have weaned myself off of the venlafaxine now and have been 12 weeks clear ( wasnt easy) Sadly im still anxious and stressed, the Gp wants me to go on citalopram but im confused about what to do, so frustrating.

  17. I am so glad I found this article! I was on Lexapro for 5 years, from age 19 to 24. The feeling of being drunk when I was on an SSRI as opposed to before was like night and day. I had transferred schools when I was 18 because I didn’t like all the drunkenness around me, I didn’t like what alcohol did to me, it made me sad the next day. When I went on Lexapro during a difficult time in my life it worked right away by anesthetizing a difficult emotion. But shortly after I noticed the effect on how I drank. It was a euphoric drunk that I chased with a vengeance. It made me drunk faster and I was unable to stop, something I had not experienced at college parties prior to the meds. I craved booze all the time, morning noon and night. It led me down an ugly and shameful road until I realized I needed to get off the meds to stop the cravings. I had mentioned all of this to my doctor who told me there was no research supporting this theory. I weaned off the Lexapro (painfully) and the craving subsided a bit. At that point I had been drinking heavily for 3 or 4 years and that kind of drinking reeks havoc on the brain and body. I thought my alcohol problem would be gone with the meds but as they say you can’t turn a pickle back into a cucumber. I developed alcoholism with the help of a little white pill that was supposed to make me feel better. I was not an alcoholic before the meds, but I am now, and for the rest of my life I have to manage the disease of alcoholism. There may not be much research supporting this theory but with so many people who have had similar experiences perhaps there should be!

  18. I stumbled across this article. It may just be the best thing I’ve ‘heard’ in 7 years. I was googling withdrawal symptoms of Effexor. I’ve been on it for years and for some reason (?) decided to slowly come off it. I’m currently experiencind the brain zaps but am determined to be medication free. So far so good.
    BUT. The past at least 5 years of my life have been filled with binge drinking and embarassing moments. Alcolism is in my family but I never used to drink like this. I had no idea it could be anything to do with my medication.
    Reading these stories is like reading about my own life. My cravings have dalmost dissapeared in the past while since reducing my meds.
    I had a little cry reading this as I’ve felt like a freak. Then I instantly got really angry. I tell my Dr about my drinking every time I see her. Why the F am I still on Effexor when I’ve also explained that I’m a bit of a drinker normally? I guess I’m blaming and I don’t mean to. I’m just furious as my life has been so risky that I’m lucky to be here. And it is just luck. And it shouldn’t be.

    • Where do I start. I’ll make this short n to the point. I was on celexa for 8 years. I always socially drank with no big concern or consequences. After starting celexa I had to urge to drink a lot more and the trade off is that guilt and hangovers completely went away along with any memory of what I was doing while I drank. I knew something was wrong with this picture but being on this medication made me soo I really didn’t care about consequences . I did things that with drinking before I never would have Done. I describe it as blacking out before even blacking out. I lost a lot of friends , the respect of my family and my wife. I’m glad I read this website , I don’t feel soo alone anymore. I am angry that one small choice to go on these meds changed my life soo much. To follow up , I always knew who I was before the meds and knew that i could always handle alcohol before. Now I have been celexa free for 1 year and a half and i haven’t been in any Trouble. I still have a few sociable drinks once in awhile but I can handle it and I don’t go stupid. I haven’t been to jail in the last year and a half and I can honestly say I knew all these problems would come to a halt once I quit the anti-depressants. When I told my family and friends that the medication was the problem, they gave me this look as if I was in denial with alcohol or simply told me I was an alcoholic. I can’t blame them, this is a new sort of epidemic that people don’t understand and it’s much easier to point the finger at
      alcohol . Now I know they see the difference it has made in me since I quit the meds and the greatest thing is ,,,I can trust myself again.

  19. I drank more on Celexa than I did before, and all my pdoc would say is “you aren’t supposed to drink on that.”
    When I finally ended up in the ER after a suicide attempt, I decided that my drugs were indeed my problem, and weaned myself off of them. Fired the pdoc, too.

  20. Dutchman says:

    I had the same problem. Never before i had a drinking problem.
    Ten years ago i was put on Citalopram and later on Effexor.
    It was a disaster…
    10 years i was a binch drinker, and did things i never tought
    i would ever do in my life.
    I feel guilty what i have done during this horrible time.
    Lost everything in my life and commited suicide three times.
    The last time i shot myself with a gun(!)
    1 month ago i quit taking the Effexor, with no help from
    my pdoc, because he would not let me go off the medicine.
    Take care everybody.

  21. Same problem, went on paxil to stop panic attacks. Ended up after two years drinking like i never had in my life. Drinking two to three times a week and very out of control. I think I am going to ween off the Paxil. My doctor does not believe me and wants me to continue on the paxil. I have decided to start the process to get off this drug, with or without my doctors help.

    • Dutchman says:

      Hello Kathy,

      It was a nightmare to come off the effexor.
      I cannot tell you about Paxil, but be prepared
      for a rollercoaster….
      You need all the help from family, friends ….
      But it will be worth it, despite all the withdrawel.

      Keep strong!

  22. Annonymous says:

    This is crazy similar to what I am experiencing… Looking back, I think I have always had a problem with alcohol. I didn’t have a drinking problem, there was just usually always a problem when I drank~!

    Well, About 10 years ago I too, lost my father and started experiencing severe anxiety and was put on Lexapro after seeing a therapist. I stopped socializing with friends and family, felt lethargic and sad. After a couple of weeks on the meds I started feeling better, but started having stronger cravings for alcohol. I would have a couple of drinks and feel fine, but once in a while would experience Blackouts! It is very scary to experience a blackout and to hear about doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. I am still battling the urge to drink and still on the meds. However, after reading this story, I am convinced that I need to stop taking the Lexapro… I am scared that my anxiety and depression will worsen if I do. I feel trapped. I don’t like feeling this way, but I can’t control myself.

    • You know while on Paxil I was convinced that I had always been an alcoholic. I stated it many times. I also repeatedly told women that I was hopelessly in love with them and had always been, and now count myself lucky to not have awoken from Paxil with a gold ring on my finger. In truth I was highly delusional on Paxil, and when I finally quit taking it my so called alcoholism disappeared. I don’t know how to articulate the sinister nature of Paxil. I seriously can not even place events that occurred while on it in the correct time frame. Took me 9 months to recover from withdrawals, and I could not have worked in that time frame, I was on an emotional roller coaster and had very limited cognitive abilities. I had tactile olfactory visual and sound hallucinations during the taper that peaked around week 2 of complete Paxil cessation. Auditory hallucinations lasted much longer. I remember seeing flaming trailers sitting on the highway and just driving right through them. Totaled my car during this time as well. But I didn’t injure anyone other than myself and my sanity did finally return. I honestly loved the psychotic effects of the withdrawal process, and some times I want to go back but I’ve decided to leave it well enough alone. Check out paxilprogress.com it’s kind of the aa of ssri’s and antidepressants.

  23. Wow. I’ve been on the net for hours looking for info on antidepressants causing alcohol cravings. What a nightmare. I could use serious advice in addressing the problem with my husband. As many have stated, they feel so great and experience no downside to the excessive alcohol consumption, so it’s hard to get them to see the damage that’s being done.

    I knew something was going very wrong when my husband started drinking regularly 6 months ago. Over the time the drinking has increased to nightly, with binges on the weekend. Luckily he’s not aggressive when he drinks and I’ve managed to keep him out of any trouble. He’s been on Lexapro for a year and a half now. Dx’d by a lovely neurologist as GAD who never bothered to look at the damaged vertebrae in his neck and back.

    When he had his first binge drinking episode a year ago I went to the neurologist with him to insure he talked about the side effects he was experiencing. The doc told him a few drinks were FINE on with the meds. He didn’t much appreciate my pointing out serotonin syndrome symptoms. Needless to say my husband was more careful… for awhile.

    Our nightmare started in earnest in Dec. 2011 when my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I was away taking care of her. It seems the same neuro added Xanax to his list of meds, Lexapro, Tramadol and Gabapentin, with an antacid because the meds are causing gastroenteritis. Since then he’s began hiding his meds, drinking some in front of me, then more behind my back. The tricks and lengths he goes to are pretty far, but still not so far that I can’t find them, at least not some of them. So I think he’s subconsciously asking for help. Of course we fight, we talk.. one time he admitted that he’s CRAVING the alcohol. This made no sense to me as he’s the one person I know who can smoke for a year, then just drop the habit with no apparent side effects. As a smoker myself, I know how bad withdrawal can be and have always envied the hell out of his ability to just drop them.

    He’s seeing a new neurologist now, one who’s doing a lot of testing and looking at the damage in his back, going back to the beginning of his symptoms. I didn’t go to the initial appointment with him, but I’ll go to the follow up in a few weeks. I just don’t know how to get this through his head and am now worried that the new neurologist won’t know or believe what’s so obvious to everyone else on this forum. And by the by, I’m in America, land of the Rx pad.

    • Sorry it took me 2 months to respond to your post. I was everywhere from hypo manic to true bi polar with psychotic effects while on Paxil I just never once had the depressive side of mania. I met a cocaine addict in rehab who took one tablet of Paxil and said no more because as she described it she was high on it. I was too just I was told the term high didn’t apply and had to find out the hard way that it does apply to Paxil. I wouldn’t have known things were going poorly while on Paxil I felt too good and thought I was fixed, even though I often physically injured my self and others I never suspected anything was wrong. I couldn’t stop drinking while on it either. I hope you stay with him and he overcomes Paxil, because he will really need you to get off of it and recover. If he’s manic from it he won’t believe anything is wrong mania is too intoxicating. And our medical community will treat it like a second non related condition. I refused medication for bi polar because I wanted to see if it was caused by paxil, I’m glad I did because slowly over about6 weeks after quitting Paxil it went away. Got arrested all the time on Paxil. Had I taken the bi polar meds I’d still be psychotic and I would never have regained my sanity. Recovering from this drug it took me 9 months to become functional again, and my doctor kept insisting that this meant I needed to be back on Paxil, because the manufacturer states that Paxil withdrawals are dead and gone by the end of 2 weeks. People who take this drug often end up in prison where they withdrawal from it only to spend the next few years wondering how the hell they got there. Have him read some of these posts it might help.

  24. just seen that GSK have been fined 3billion, hope you can salvage something from these findings. dont give up the fight, you have 26 comments on your story. This needs to go public Anne marie so you can get more support.

  25. I googled alcohol cravings and paxil. I can’t believe this, I didn’t think anyone was like me and I found this site. I have been through HELL! I went in for anxiety to doctor and ended up on paxil…I developed into a full blown crazy alcoholic and have done some very embarrasing things in bars and restaurants. I went off the medication 2 years ago..and recently went back to the doctor for the same anxiety problems to be put on paxil again. I started taking about 10mg for the past 4 days, (thats half a pill)…my god, that is where the cravings started. It was a major aha moment. I have been hit with the most intense drinking cravings the last two days…I bought a six pack yesterday and downed it. I know there is a link to this now after reading this and posts. I can’t believe doctors perscribe this to people. I feel like suing paxil.

  26. God I could cry reading this. So, so familiar – I’ve been arrested, hospitalised, jumped out of moving cars and high windows, you name it – all while on SSRIs. I can’t believe the wealth of evidence on the web that is never given to us by our GPs.

    I am giving up my medication (Sertraline, or Zoloft) and going for a herbal approach. It couldn’t possible be any worse than what I have experienced on SSRIs.

  27. All of these stories are so familiar to me. I have been on anti-depressants now for about 15 years, Effexor. I am trying to wean off with the help of vitamin iv treatment. I have come down from 150 mgs a day to 75mgs, but I’m feeling the withdrawal even with the iv treatments. I have a problem with binge drinking and have quite a craving for alcohol, for some reason white wine. I go on mini binges here and there. It is causing problems in my marriage. I feel very scared and alone. I have lost my husbands respect and feel I am losing my marriage. I cannot continue with the iv therapy as it is a weekly expense and I have been going for a couple of months now and just can’t keep it up. My mini binges consists of at the most 4 to 5 sometimes less, glasses of wine. I all of a sudden just black out and the next morning can’t remember a thing. I’ts like someone just turns of the lights, it happens that fast. I feel so relieved to have found this site. I will have my husband read all of the posts as I don’t think he understands why I just don’t stop drinking as it is causing problems with our marriage. My heart is with all of you, we are not alone and we can all learn from one another. Anne Marie I thank you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless all of you.

  28. I wanted to share my experience on this subject, in case anyone else goes through something similar, and feels like they’re going crazy. I started taking celexa about a year ago. It was shortly after this that my drinking started to increase significantly. It was not only the cravings and frequency, but the blackouts that would accompany it. I did not have a history of alcohol abuse prior to this, but with my behavior I thought I had developed/ discovered alcoholism. I went through rehab, AA, etc, and was convinced that somehow I had just snapped, and fallen into addiction. It wasn’t until I started doing some reading and some reflection on when all this began that I made the connection. Shortly after I had started taking celexa this problem started. I talked to everyone that I know that has taken celexa and sure enough they’ve all had similar experiences in one way or another. I’ve since come off of the medication and am finally started to feel normal again. I’ve been sober for about four months and plan to eventually try drinking again. The funny thing is, I’m not really having cravings to drink since coming off the meds, and therefore am in no rush to attempt it again. If I do decide to try drinking again I will definitely come back on and post to update my progress, but I wanted to share my experience. I know I’ve felt like I was losing my mind over the last few months, and I know people have been treating me as if I have. I just wanted to let anyone out there experiencing similar behavior know that they are not alone, and more likely than not, not crazy. I mentioned this to my doctor and therapist and both acted as if I was in denial of my addiction, but I know my past and I know my body, and that was not me. If anyone has any experience/ insight on this subject, feel free to chime in. Thanks!

  29. Finally Clear says:

    The pieces have finally fallen into place today!
    Last month I started to run out of my 20mg daily dose of Celexa. I’ve moved overseas and the prescription bills hadn’t caught up to me and had been turned to a collection agency so my auto-refill was delayed. I decided to rough it while the payment issue worked itself out. Suddenly my cravings for alcohol were depleted to nothing. My appetite even vanished. Since starting Celexa in January of 2011, I’ve gained 30lbs and developed a drinking problem. I ran into some real problems at work because the desire to satiate myself was intervening, and my marriage has almost ended several times. I was forced into counseling! I was even running and working out every day with zero results or weightloss, which made me even more miserable. So by this token of accidental luck (and a collection Agency and a google search), I now know that maybe I’m not an actual addict? What a waste of two years of my life. I really wish I would have known. The three month supply of Celexa that just arrived in the mail are going in the TOILET RIGHT NOW and this 200lbs beast is getting her life back.

  30. OMG – a specific thread dedicated to the problem. Yay !
    My story is very similar. I had always been a social drinker, but never had a problem with alcohol. After being diagnosed with post natal depression after my second child, I was put onto Prozac, which is an SSRI. I was in this for several years and my drinking got out of control. I am not proud of many things that happened during this period of my life…. And at the time, started seeking help for alcoholism. (I did many self surveys and the answer always came back – you are an alcoholic. I saw local drug/alcohol centers… Tried naltrexone and the Sinclair method – which kind if worked… But really it was just masking the real cause. About 12 months ago I managed to wean myself off Prozac. I was off it completely for around 4 months. My alcohol addiction/cravings fell away completely, however I still hadn’t made the connection to SSRI’s … I was just pleased with myself Abd thought I obviously had more strength than previously. I was not drinking at all and my eating was like a normal person. BUT unfortunately the depression came back. I was a mess. I went to my Dr, explained my predicament and she suggested as I had found it do hard to get off Prozac, I try another SSRI. After taking the second pill of the new drug, it was like the ‘alcohol switch’ had been turned on…. Turned onto FULL. This is when I realised the connection. It was instant and dramatic. Finally I had my answer to why I had had such intense alcohol cravings for YEARS … And why I could not stop drinking once I started. I reaearched it on the internet and found many others with the same experiences. I went back to my Dr – I don’t think she was convinced, but she agreed to try another drug. This time NOT an SSRI, but an SNRI. Effexor. Well the cravings got worse and worse and my drinking was completely out of control again. I went back to Dr …. Still I don’t think she believes me … And why would she, there are no warnings in the medical journals or on the drug ‘side effects’ information. Again she agreed to trial me on another type of AD med. I can tell you getting off Effexor was kne scary rollercoaster. That’s one nasty drug!!! Now I am on doxepin. It’s a tricyclic AD med, one of the earlier developed drugs and it works completely differently to SSRI and SNRI drugs. Once the Effexor was completely out of my system, the alcohol switch was turned OFF !!!! I am now enjoying freedom for the first time in years. I have absolutely no alcohol cravings. I’m normal. NORMAL !! I think back to the years I have wasted, the poor parenting I gave my precious boys and the appalling decisions I made at times. All because of SSRI drugs. I’m so pleased to have worked it out while I still have young children … I am now the parent I want to be… And am completely in control…. Rather than the SSRI’s taking control. HOW DO WE GET THE MEDICAL FRATERNITY TO ACCEPT THIS AND CHANGE THE WARNINGS?

  31. Bobbi,

    Thank you for writing in and sharing your experience you have also been through a terrible time. I don’t know what the answer is though regarding getting the warning’s changed, I have written to my MP who got in touch with the Dept of health for them to only write back with a standard letter reminding me it has a warning not to drink. I also filled out the yellow card report and got in touch with one of the pharmaceutical companies who also reminded me you shouldn’t drink on it. They can’t seem to see that there is a huge difference between an intense physical craving for alcohol and a mild “Avoid alcohol warning” they are two separate things. The bottom line of it is unless hundreds of people complained together they will just treat everyone as an individual and as a one off and fob you off with “you shouldn’t drink on it”. I personally think they are aware of this side effect but see it as trivial regardless of how many people who have had their lives destroyed by it and see it as the individual’s problem rather than their drug. The yellow card system which is the reporting system for side effects in the UK quite clearly doesn’t work as they still have not put any warnings out regarding this side effect even though people are reporting it, to me that is extremely neglectful and irresponsible of them knowing the damage that can be done to people. This is why it’s also good to have this new website called Rxisk.org (its a data based medicines website) a place where you know your side effect will be recorded and taken seriously. Other than that its important for people to keep telling their stories and report these side effects, it’s very important that they do this as it could help save someone else from harm.

    • I forgot to add Surrey Police didn’t find it trivial in fact they took it extremely seriously, shame the MHRA and Drug Companies don’t have the same enthusiasm for their jobs.

      • Well done, the police see the effects, they know… yet the doctors, drug companies, all ignore it. My psych never told me, just wanted to put me on methodone, or told me to drink red wine instead of white wine. I was worried because i drank a bottle of wine a night……. Why didn’t he tell me? Yes my sister dismisses it too, like just dont drink. Off the stuff, I dont crave it anymore, just a little bit of a residual “habit” some days….shame the alcohol still gets the blame, and the person gets the blame, not that horrible little poison pill.

  32. Thanks so much for your personal reply Anne-Marie.
    I have also posted a message on The Sinclair Method website – which is a website dedicated to a method to help Alcoholics. I am absolutely positive some of the people on that website are NOT alcoholics – they are just on SSRI drugs. I only posted it yesterday and already 15 people have read it. Even if it helps one other find freedom… Cause that’s what it is. As I went to the gym for a 5:30pm class tonight, I thought about the wasted 6 years of my life where I would be well into my bottle of wine by 5:30…. And some nights be lining up the second bottle. The cravings were so intense I’d start thinking about what I was going to drink as soon as I woke up. The nights I had a school or business meeting after 5, were hell. I’d be ravenous for wine by the time I got home and polish off a bottle in half the usual time. God only knows how my husband put up with it. When faced with the facts from my story … Where I went in and off the meds a couple of times… It was easy for me to make the connection … But what about the poor souls who have never come off the drugs .. So can’t recognise the effects. Now that I’m not on SSRI’s … I don’t even think about alcohol. I can go days without it crossing my mind. If my husband has a beer, I can nonchalantly decide if I’ll join him. More often than not, I don’t these days. We are saving so much money too. (My taste in wine isn’t cheap LOL).
    I work in the corporate world where people don’t discuss their problems and they certainly don’t admit weaknesses like alcoholism, let alone admit to depression. I therefore think this is going to be a very long road getting the health sector to recognise the problem as many people won’t seek help; or will never make the connection between SSRI’s and their drinking.

    It made my blood boil when I read that the medical fraternity had dismissed you with a ‘there’s a warning not to drink’ on the packet. THEY JUST DON’T GET IT.

    Anyway – this is another long rambly email. I’m just so glad to find you. Your dedication, persistence and courage are inspirational.

    Bobbi. :-)

    • Anne-Marie says:

      I agree with you that there are probably many people being diagnosed as alcoholic that are on SSRIs that are not genuine alcoholics but this is also a problem for some people who are alcoholics as well as it can also intensify their illness and escalate their drinking. The combination can also commonly land people up in the criminal justice system so I tried to put a link on a website called unlock (a UK website for ex offenders) but they accused me of being dangerous by spreading my message and took my link off their website. I find it sad that these people are so narrow minded and short sighted that they are preventing people from getting the knowledge and help that may be useful to them, it is in fact THEIR attitude and THEIR denial of the problem that is dangerous. I have also put links to my story on various other websites but the AA type websites won’t allow me to put a link either, quite unbelievable really considering they accuse alcoholic’s of being in denial lol. I’m glad you were able to put something on the Sinclair method website it will certainly be very helpful to some people.

  33. Anne-Marie says:

    There’s a lot of truth in this quote.

    The very greatest things – great thoughts, discoveries, inventions – have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty.
    Samuel Smiles

  34. Kelly Jean says:

    Anne-Marie, I do not say this lightly…..I believe this thread has saved my life. I just started citalopram in November 2012 (10mg), just a few short weeks ago. Never would I have guessed that my, almost overnight, craving for alcohol was related to a drug and as such did not realize I should speak to my doctor. I was getting scared (but did not tell anyone). I knew it wasn’t normal for me to be thinking about alcohol. My search for answers came after a drunken night and a bad bad fall, next night drunk making stupid comments on the phone and a third night when I saw disgust in a dear friends eyes as I drank. I still thought it was the alcohol and vowed not to get off the meds because they were working so well for my general anxiety (I am 58 y old). After coming across this thread 10 days ago, I am happy to say that I have not had one drink and have 1/2d the medicine for one full week, and tomorrow I will be free of both. Was it hard, no, but I know I am one of the very lucky who found this thread early. This is not something I talked about with anyone, I would never have made the connection on my own. Anne-Marie, in these few weeks I can see how someone could end up in your shoes, I am so very very grateful to you and sorry you lived through that, I promise you it was not in vain. Do I need something for my anxiety, yes, but this time I will see a psychiatrist and I will take this thread with me, and until I find a doctor who admits this is an issue I will continue to look for a better doctor and take deep breaths.. Have you contacted the Dr. Oz show here? This is just the kind of thing he would be interested in, I feel sure of it. Please do not stop talking about this very important issue.

    yours in health. Kj

  35. I cannot even believe this. I have been sober for three years and also off paxil for three years. I was prescribed zoloft at 15 years old, and thats when I started my out of control downward spiral of alcoholism. They put me on effexor, then paxil. I liked paxil so I stayed on it. I literally was OUT OF CONTROL! a crazy alcoholic. doing crazy things while drunk and not remembering. drinking until I passed out. not one doctor had mentioned it could be the paxil. I thought it was me. I kept failing every program until I stopped taking paxil and I completed a sober program and have been sober ever since. Recently my doctor prescribed me Prozac for post partum, and all of a sudden I got this crazy craving for alcohol. That’s when it hit me and I googled anti-depressants and alcohol. I cannot even believe it. I am certain this drug has ruined my life. The only good I can get from this is that I am not alone, and there are other people who understand what I went through.

  36. What a very informative post this is and i am so grateful to you for telling your story in such great depth with braveness and honesty. My father is a victim of fluroxetine leading him to alcohol cravings and has resulted in huge debts from extravagant overspending and trouble with the police after his aggressive behaviour and his vulnerabilities have lead him to be robbed on a number of occasions. All of these have left his relationships within the family very estranged. He is in hospital at present under a section as he got where he was displaying manic bi polar symptoms. I wonder if this is a result of his excessive drinking while on an ssri form of medication.It is urgent the british medical council see the difference between AVOID ALCOHOL WARNING and THIS MEDICATION MAY CAUSE A PHYSICAL CRAVING FOR ALCOHOL!

  37. Anne-Marie says:

    Here is an interesting story today in the daily mail regarding men ending divorces because of women’s excessive drinking. A comment was put in the comments section of this story regarding Antidepressants causing alcohol cravings, surprisingly 24 people green arrowed this comment in agreement. This shows me people are becoming quite aware of this side effect and that this problem is much bigger than is being reported.

    Antidepressants can cause intense cravings for alcohol.

    – Liz, London, 3/4/2013 11:15

    Click to rate Rating 24

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2303155/More-men-ending-marriages-womens-excessive-drinking.html#ixzz2PRM8ngOP
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  38. Kelly Jean says:

    Yesterday, the Dr. Oz show did a segment on the over and misuse of antidepressants. While they gave some great advice and warned of the overuse they DID NOT mention any connection to alcohol cravings……I am disappointed and yet hopeful that the message will get out.

  39. This website has been a revelation for me. My GP prescribed Zoloft for me 3 years ago and whilst I enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner and with dinner, 3 years on I’m drinking a bottle of white wine whilst cooking dinner then sharing a bottle with hubby (who only has 1 – 2 glasses) then finishing the bottle myself. Like other posters on this site, I have often found myself on the sofa in the early hours of the morning having blacked out with no memory of the nights events. Prior to taking Zoloft, I enjoyed a drink but now I feel I CRAVE a drink and can’t get enough and have for some time thought I might be an alcoholic. Deep down I don’t think I am but this is scary stuff.

    • I started on Fluoxitine due to increasing symptoms of PMS that left me struggling to do my job for 10-14 days of the month. It was a revaluation and I felt ” normal”again. I had insomnia and some sexual dysfunction so I was keen to come of the drug.. When I stopped I noticed that I was drinking a lot less and having more hangovers and just more aware of my alcohol consumption. It’s never been a problem before. But my PMS returned big time so I asked my GPS for another drug.
      I started on Citalopram and felt such an improvement. Little sexual dysfunction and no insomnia with my awful PMs gone. But I was drinking more. and more. I seemed to have lost my off switch. I worried about being an alcoholic but I knew that when I wanted to I could stop without any problem.
      I think my worst moment was when I got very drunk at a work function and was escorted back to my room by a colleague. I was wasted and although I could not call it rape he took advantage of me. I was disgusted with myself but I also knew I would never have consented normally.
      I have been aware of things being different since I started taking SSRis but was blaming myself. I now know it it not me.
      I would like to stress that my PMs was so bad and SSRis were a lifesaver but I wish I had been warned about the alcohol issue.
      I hope this helps someone else.

  40. I’ve never been one to drink excessively, I’ve always found alcohol’s effects to be borderline debilitating. After starting Lexapro, I drank socially one evening. The experience was wonderful. No hangover, and a near high experience… I was very euphoric. I continued to crave alcohol. It became stronger and stronger to having as many as 10 US units a day (but averaging 5) daily for a month. After the month, I realized how out of character this was, but I simply couldn’t make it through 24 hour without intense cravings not only to drink but to drink heavily. It was then that I decided to research reasons that may have been connected to SSRI use. Surprisingly, many people had similar effects but I could only find blogs of people declaring their problems, but nothing scientific. I then decided to quit my Lexapro. It has been one week since quitting the SSRI and I not only have no cravings, but simply the thought of alcohol causes me nausea.

  41. Thank you. I feel such relief. I’ve spent the past 16 years on Prozac. Before that, I was a social drinker. Soon, I began drinking increasingly larger amounts of alcohol. It’s just lately that I began wondering about the relationship between prozac and the onset of my crazy drinking. I’ve wasted so many years and hurt my loved ones and myself. I’m moving forward again.

  42. Thank you so much for this site! I really feel so relieved having read these posts. I started on Citalopram a couple of years ago and at first it was fantastic. I had had a difficult childhood but always managed to cope with things with the help of counselling but then went through a serious of major events – a house fire, mum with dementia, builder robbing me of £30k all within three months and found it really was hard to cope. The GP suggested citalopram and for the first twelve months it was amazing. I felt so relieved at not being stressed or paranoid anymore. I was strong again and even started my own business. I didnt care so much about what people thought of me or worry if I was socially accepted or not. Then everything changed. I went to a party one evening and after a couple of drinks started bad mouthing some friends behind their backs. Worse thing is I couldnt really remember much about doing it and having heard what I said – didnt even know I had those thoughts about them! I had however heard lots of other people saying these things about them – it was like i was repeating all the gossip I had heard but saying it was my thoughts. It was awful and I ended up losing a lot of friends over it. Since then it has happened again and I do agree that my craving for alcholol once I start drinking is such that I dont seem to have a switch off button. Its almost an out of body experience. What makes me saddest is that the ‘friends’ I had have just walked away and arent interested in any reasons why I might have behaved that way – I did try explaining to one of them but she didnt buy it – a she is a mental health nurse lol. Where I am now is that I feel I want to come off the drugs but am worried with what to do if I started with the old feelings of depression again. I just wish there was a medical paper or something I could show people and say – look this wasnt me – or my fault – the drugs and alcohol do this to you. Unfortunately for me, my parents where both chronic alcoholics so must of the old friends are just saying ‘ well what do you expect given her background’. I feel so lonely in all these – I dont want to come off the meds and be depressed again and I dont want to go to the GP incase she puts me in the ‘alcoholic’ bracket – which I dont believe is the case. Sorry for the ramblings – such a relieve to be able to say how I really feel somewhere….

  43. About 15 – 20 years ago, I went from being a very light drinker, with an almost puritan attitude to alcohol, to drinking whole bottles of neat vodka secretly. I tried to kill myself twice. I now believe Ssri’s were the problem. The feelings of detachment and shredded nerves, paralysis and apathy were only relieved by alcohol which made me feel more connected. The thing is, once I started I couldn’t stop.

  44. I was a heavy drinker before going on Paxil, but it did not typically cause problems in my life. Sure, I overdid it sometimes as many do in college. After on Paxil I craved alcohol and the company of strangers in the most bizzare way. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going to the bar to drink and socialize with who ever was there. I was normally reserved but this combination made me very likable and popular at first. I would make friends very quickly and would start to introduce them to one another as if they were my old friends, but I had only just met them. I could drink for long periods and never get the feeling that I was drunk and should stop. I would just get more and more elated to the point of mania. I had a very difficult time even walking past a bar without going in. The local drunks became my friends. My girlfriend who had given me an ultimatum to go on Paxil because I was depressed now encouraged me to go to the Dr and get some other script. The Dr was no longer available so I was put on Effexor by an assistant who did not take me off the Paxil first. The combination of the two drugs gave me horrible anxiety and anger. I tried to calm myself with a drink and it just kept getting worse. Eventually I was crazed, burning and cutting myself , trashing the house. This was the first time I was taken to ER and then to Detox. The Dr who had not warned me about alcohol and the Paxil had given me many samples which did not have the usual warnings. I hear the warnings are far too mild anyway. Soon, I read in the paper the Dr had driven his BMW and two people off a cliff while intoxicated, all died. I imagine he was taking the same samples he gave me but who knows, he is dead. Long story short, my life was ruined. The love of my life left, I couldn’t blame her. I lost my job. I was arrested for Duii and mischief. I ended up believing I was an alcoholic, sought help and have been sober for many years. I am thankfully to be sober but can’t help wondering what would have been had I never gone on the Paxil. Btw, I was eventually put on Zoloft which was better but still a problem. Now I am off all of the SSRIs. Some may say I am Alcoholic and write me off. I know my drinking got 500 times worse when I started these drugs. I alone am responsible for the consequences but it doesn’t seem right these companies are profiting selling drugs to make your life better when they make your life infinitly worse.

  45. Hello. I’m so happy to have found others that have experienced what I have. I started taking peroxidene a couple years ago and during that time, I have had a voracious appetite for beer and liquor. I alway enjoyed beer and the occassional cocktail make with liquor, but these days I feel the need to drink like never before.

    I tried to tell my wife a while back that I started feeling the need to binge drink shortly after starting Paxil, but she doesn’t believe me. She thinks I’m self-medicating and that I have more of a classic drinking problem. I’m not denying that I was a partyer in my younger days (I’m now 40), but this urge to simply keep consuming drinks until I pass out feels overpowering. In the past, I was at least able to “turn off the switch” and say I was done for the night, but now I just want to keep going. I even took six months off of drinking and then started buying six-packs so that I wouldn’t have as much around. That didn’t help either because I now want to drink all the beers I have when they are there.

    I will stop drinking again, but I don’t feel like that will help the other effects I have had about “not caring.” Yes, I have experienced this too. I always had a tendency to procrastinate, but I also took care of business when it came time to do so and stayed organized enough to manage my life. Now I feel like it is out-of-control because I cannot gauge when I should take the time to do certain things such as pay bills. I also don’t care about my customers at work and find myself daydreaming and making excuses to take breaks. This results in me staying much later than I would like, thus angering my wife even more. Sure, I can remove alcohol from the equation, but I will still be disconnected from my wife because I can’t prioritize.

    Another thing I notice is that I get bored VERY easily. I feel the need to play computer games more than ever before and I put off doing any sort of paper work because I find it agonizingly boring. Nobody loves paperwork, but I was always able to buckle down when I needed to and get things in the mail to customers, pay bills, etc.

    I suppose the only thing I can do, along with quitting drinking, is to wean myself off of Paxil. Even if it’s hard, I can keep my seratonin levels up by exercising; many people who get off of drugs and alcohol seem to fill the void by engaging in physical activity. All I know is that my marriage is falling apart and I feel helpless when it comes to holding it together, let alone making things better and reconnecting with my wife. I love her so much and I want to hold her and be close and enjoy her companionship, but these days she hardly wants to look at me.

    This morning I decided I can’t live like this anymore. After leaving the house and receiving a disappointing, mechanical kiss and goodbye from my wife, I cried on the way to work while I was alone in my car. It wasn’t even just a few tears, but a loud, bawling that left me physically drained. I need to be in control again and I want to feel like my old self, even if I was anxious. I need the love and respect of my wife and I want to be more present for her. I’ll die of a broken heart if I lose her, but right now I feel too weak to fight for her. I am left wondering if this drug has contributed to where I am now or if I am truly weak and useless.

  46. This is so relieving to read. I remember after a month on citalopram 20mg I loved white wine lots and had only socially drank before maybe a few times a week. I started drinking a bottle of wine most days sometimes more. I unfortunately made some bad choices and had huge regrettable and cringe worthy moments the next day! Thought I’d changed and perhaps be heading towards alcohol dependency and couldn’t break the cycle, until I stopped citalopram 30mg a week ok. Now I can stop drinking after a beer and had a few alcohol free nights. Feel more in control and like the person I truly am. Think it made me happy perhaps too happy and felt I needed to get kicks especially with alcohol. Glad it’s all over and my damaged self esteem is back with the help if knowing that it was citalopram that induced the alcohol and impulsive behaviour.

  47. Tim Mills says:

    Hello, I am sat here whilst my partner of 17 years is sitting in the garden drunk after 2 bottles of wine and I am desperate to get some help! When our daughter was born nearly 17 years ago after a very bad birth experience where they had to carry out an emergency ceasarean after 25 hours in labor (We found out recently that her womb was inverted and it would never have been possible for a natural birth) well anyway she started to have severe baby blues which was dismissed by our GP and after I got her referred to BUPA she was diagnosed with Post Natal depression and was prescribed with Citralopran which seemed to work at first after the initial side affects had worn off.

    It was then I realised that she was starting to drink a bit too much alcohol which was unusual as she had never touched a drop whilst being pregnant and this got steadily worse and she also started being out of control after as little as a couple of glasses of wine and would not remember what she had done. She told me that when the tablets started wearing off in the afternoon she was getting cravings to drink which I spoke to her doctor about on a few occasions and was told that this was not a side effect of the drug. Anyway to cut a long story short I decided to wean her off the medication by reducing her slowly until she had stopped completely. She was great at first and felt so much better but then started having severe panic attacks and after seeing another doctor was put on Citralopran

    The drinking started again and has never stopped and the doctors refused to offer any psychological help unless she stopped the drinking and we are now at the point where she has tried committing suicide several times and has lost her job of 25 years and I don’t know where to turn to as her family has wiped their hands with her.

    I am taking this article to my GP tomorrow and if they refuse to help I will take this to my MP until I get a response. Has anyone thought about bringing a test case against the drugs companies at it looks like to me that the doctors are turning a blind eye due to the payments they receive?

  48. Thank you all for sharing your stories, I started taking Lexapro in Jan. 2009 then was switched to Zoloft in June 2009 and did not know how bad my drinking was until Sept. 2013 when I sexually assaulted my 13 year old step daughter and now being brought up on charges. I have been a normal guy for 40 years, never been in trouble with the law EVER!! and never had these disgusting thoughts ( not even knowing that I had them, if I even did have them!?) did not even know what really happened until I woke up the next morning. I will keep this short, While in jail I went off the Meds all of them, and after a few days there I have never seen more clearly in my life, like I was reborn, I don’t know what I can do to help get these drugs off the market or to add more monitoring of these drugs that have ruined my life in everyway PLEASE let me know!! This is killing me that they can just put drugs on the market that can alter the mind, we don’t understand the brain fully as it is why put something into it not knowing all the affects!! I am a grown man and cry several times a day even right now. My family which was the only reason I worked so hard did everything for, my entire life is now gone.

  49. Tara Levitt says:

    Thank you for this Anne-Marrie (& David), like many who have responded, I share a similar experience. After a traumatic loss and possible post-partum, I got on celexa and was thankful for the relief from the emotional pain but something else happened that I was not warned about and it has impacted me more than the blues ever could. I went from a occasional social drinker to a raging whiskey and water swilling alcoholic. I thought the celexa might be to blame, after all I had never felt the deep uncontrollable urge to guzzle straight alcohol before I started taking the pills….and though I had enjoyed the occasional wild night, I had never ever had any urge to drink outside the social context. I talked about this with my doctor and she dismissed me, saying this was not a side effect of my medication and doubled my dosage. This is when my drinking got even more out of hand …feeling too messed up and confused to seek help. Like many people, I have a life long aversion to those who look to blame something outside themselves for their problems, so I put the connection I had made between celexa and my overwhelming alcohol cravings aside and blamed my own weakness. This carried on for three years. Three years of trying to walk the tight-rope between alcoholic hell and ‘everything is fine here’ put-ons. Until I googled the link between ssri’s and alcohol cravings and found a few similar stories…it was enough to give me the push I needed. My new doctor laughed at the idea of a connection between the two, “After all” he said, “we give celexa to alcoholics as a method of treating their problem”…but he agreed to switch me to Wellbutrin. Within a week my intense alcohol cravings were gone, I no longer felt driven to drink…I was overjoyed and my life changed dramatically. Though the three years of alcohol abuse have led me to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism for all sorts of things, but I can feel those emotions that bring up the urge to drink and let them go…the raging unstoppable compulsion to drink is gone. I know it was the celexa that caused me to lose three years of my life & I don’t want that to happen to others. Can’t we all get together and petition the makers of ssri’s to include ‘overwhelming urge to drink’ as a possible side effect of their medication? There must be something that can be done??

  50. I can’t begin to explain how much relief I’ve felt reading everyone’s similar stories to that of my own. Even though I wish none of us ever had to go through our situations of alcohol induced situations with SSRI’s it’s very comforting to know that there are others out there who understand what each other is going through.
    I started taking paxil around 8 months ago, after being on sertraline for a year before hand due to anxiety, I had no alcohol cravings while on this SSRI but stopped the medication due to increased anxiety when giving a higher doze.

    My related story only starts from taking the paxil. I asked my doctor to refer me to a therapist as along with anxiety I was beginning to feel other problems arising. I had a problematic childhood which I had kept closed but felt after having my children things started re-surfing, I was always afraid I would turn into my birth mum who is bipolar and has had her world collapse around her. At 31 years of age the feelings grew stronger so I asked to see a therapist as the thoughts were growing stronger and I believed I was turning myself into her (sounds silly I know but thoughts are powerful) anyway it turned out I had been suffering from OCD all these years.

    I was given paxil to help with the thoughts that I was never going to be a good mother, the anxiety etc etc i was told 60mg is what you work up to for OCD so after going up to 20mg I started feeling better, more relaxed. After a few weeks of working up to 30mg I started feeling different. I was craving alcohol, which had never been a problem for me, I would have a night out with the girls, sure, then have the hangover and laughs about it the next day. I noticed I was no longer just having days out with the girls, I had started drinking during the week too. Which was something I rarely done. One glass of wine turned to two and then to a bottle, I never had hangovers but would be tired so by night came again I would have more wine. It’s always an overwhelming craving in the evening when the tablets are waring off.

    I spoke to my therapist at the next session and asked her if there was any connection between alcohol and medication, a joke was made out of it as I was told there was no connection between them. So I felt that I was freaking out over nothing.
    Later down the line and going up to 50mg thats when the big changes started, I would go out and drink without knowing where the stop line was, I had constant blackouts with drinking so much and the medication. I started going for stronger drinks so I could taste the alcohol (which I couldn’t stomach before) the point of drinking had become to get drunk, blind drunk. I was getting loud, nasty, argumentative especially with my husband, when I go out I’m looking for attention which I would never have done before. I tried to get my husband to understand but he just couldn’t in the same way as I’ve tried to get others too, friends, family. My husband works off shore so its hard to get a good talk, he thinks my problems are alcohol related but I know they are not directly a result of alcohol as ive never behaved the way i have or felt the need to drink alcohol the way i have been since being on these tablets, i just wish someone would listen and give me a little support. It’s heartbreaking when your trying to explain this to loved ones but no one believes what your going through. It makes you feel you are going a little insane. I’ve pointed out to go online and explore that others are going through the same with the SSRI and alcohol cravings. So when I came across this study I’ve had to share it out to a few of my closest people as I don’t want to loose them over something I feel I don’t have the whole control over. This case study has made me feel brighter as its explained in ways that I could never do. I’m just hoping it opens the minds of others to there being a direct link between SSRI and alcohol, so there can be more support and comfort out there for everyone.

    I’ve hurt and upset people I care about along the way. I’ve done and said things I would never had before, I’ve always been conscious of other people’s feelings but now I didn’t care what I said or done at the time, although the next day I would feel guilty, upset with myself but unable to believe some of these things as it wasnt who i was, well who i used to be. As while I’ve been on paxil my life has felt like its not my own but I’m living someone else’s so the actions I do won’t really matter as I will wake up soon. I feel my life has turned upside down and this tablets have ruined my life in the short space of 8 months.
    I’ve always been a level headed kind of person apart from my anxiety and OCD traits but I’ve now become someone who is lost.

    I changed therapists and aired the same views about paxil but was told he had never heard of a connection but its not to say that what I’m feeling is true. I was told to go back in January to review my feelings and if I still felt the same he will take me off it. Just within that few months until now i have still been drinking way to much alcohol, fallen out with friends and family, slapped my husband and accused him things he had never done, had drinks at the weekend that went well passed the allowed time with my children in the house, id be up until 5am and then finish off my wine when i got back up. THIS ISNT ME. Plus now it’s made me feel like the worst mother ever in doing this which was part of the problem for going on SSRI in the first place, rather than help my mental state I’ve been left with my life falling apart at my own hands.
    Just within that few months I’ve made a conscious decision to lower my doze, I’m now on 30mg as of today but am feeling some side effects. I will see my therapist in January and will update.

  51. Amazonbellah says:

    I am happy to read this because I was given Celexa for my anxiety about a year ago. I started on a 20mg and felt those same things, like confusion, nausea, and the dreams that feel like you really are never sleeping. My doctor bumped me up to a HIGHER dose of 40mg and that is when I found my ‘old college party girl’. If someone would go out with me, I would go, and I would drink, and drink and drink and it felt AMAZING to consume that booze. After a year I’ve been going down on dosages and I am noticing when I am dealing with something that emotional makes me feel out of control the first thing after a Klonopin I crave is alcohol…and I have never been so entitled to want to drink as much alcohol as I have since taking the SSRI’s. I also ‘forget’ a lot of things, I have or haven’t done. To explain, I will wake up take a shower, then go sit down and an hour later wonder if I took a shower. There is also compulsive shopping, I do online and forget that I ordered anything until it comes in the mail, even then I have to try and remember when I bought this item. I think there is so much more that goes into these types of medications, and living a lone no one notices the behavior, and since I am the one on the meds I don’t notice them like someone who might have family members that would question it.

    • I understand what your saying completely. I really don’t think there has been enough research into the effects these medications have on us. I had my reservations about paxil before I was put on it due to my own research I had done but was advised that there was no need to worry and that it was the best SSRI to help with my OCD and anxiety. While it has curbed my anxiety I’ve been left with other problems, some which you have also mentioned with forgetting I’ve done things and when I go to do them that’s when I realise I’ve done it already. Also the shopping problem you describe, I order things and then forget but usually it’s after having a drink and don’t realise until it’s delivered. It’s a horrible feeling having blackouts. Makes me feel I’ve lost control of myself. That’s why I’ve decided to wean myself off my meds without consulting my therapist as I know he will try and keep me on them but the way I see it now is my life would be better off the meds as my life feels asthough its been turned upside down. Good luck with taking your meds down too x

  52. I have alcohol cravings on paxil too, I’m trying to stop paxil but it so difficult…unbereable

  53. David Williams says:

    I feel quite emotional reading this open hearted account of a normal life ruined not by mental illness but by the medication prescribed to alleviate the symptoms. I can relate to this account, all be it, to a less destructive extent up to now. I’ve been taking SSRI’s for 15 years. Firstly, Paroxetine, then a horrible failed attempt with Venlafaxine which caused me massive hives & itching, then 5 years on Citalopram & finally, today 100mg of Sertraline, which I’ve asked my GP to stop & change me back to Citalopram 20mg because of severe gastric side effects. Most worrying though is that my liking for a few beers once or twice a week maximum has evolved into a daily craving for between 4-7 beers. I am still holding down a senior role within the NHS but I change jobs at a ridiculous rate. My behaviour with my poor girlfriend is unpredictable ranging from calm collected to agitated aggression and a total lack of emotional sensitivity:-( When I drink beer my whole personality can alter. I’m like Jekel & Hyde. I threw away a 20 year marriage & the respect of 2 fantastic, now grown, sons on a bizzare belief that my wife didn’t understand me & wasn’t giving me love. I now know I didn’t even understand what love was. I experience daily agitation, akathesia, crazy emotional changes, nightmares, conspiracy theories and of course my daily beer cravings. I’ve asked my GP to refer me for CBT & am waiting for an appointment but I’m seriously thinking of not taking the Citalopram once I’ve withdrawn from the Sertraline

  54. I just recently started with paxil and drank for the first time the other day. My parents were in town visiting and after only 3 drinks I blacked out. My wife says I said some incredibly mean things to her, tried to get dressed and leave the house, and was yelling and ranting. This was just a few days ago and she is barely speaking to me and doesn’t believe me, she thinks I just stayed up and had way too much to drink. Has anybody had this experience before on just a few drinks?

    • Adam, I am sorry to hear of your experience on Paxil and alcohol. Your wife is understandably upset. The first time I drank on Paxil I made some crude comments to a bartender that were regrettable enough I went back to apologize the next day. This was entirely new to me.

      It sounds like you have the same reaction that I have, and if you do, you stand at a precipice of disaster. Things are about to get phenomenally worse for you and your wife if you continue on the Paxil. Please for her sake and for yours Do Not Drink, and ween yourself from the Paxil! Find an alternative or do without. Drink in and SSRIs are a very dangerous combination for some of us and you clearly fit that description.

      Best, Travis

  55. Hello all.

    Just briefly, I was put on Zoloft 2 years ago for serious obsessive/intrusive thoughts. The thoughts have now gone, but for the last 18 months I have battled various problems with alcohol.

    I too have experienced intense physical cravings, inability to stop once I commenced and ultimately all of the symptoms of alcoholism – All a little bit too much for a 22 year old taking a pill to get him through his final year of University.

    I recently had a dental implant, and stopped smoking, drinking and Zoloft for a week. I stopped everything. Cold turkey. Would you believe it?! I could hold down a healthy diet, did not crave the booze, barely missed cigarettes and enjoyed exercise.

    Unfortunately the WD’s got bad, so I am back on them. Now, here is my question. I understand that none of us are doctors and so cannot really advise, but you are all more learned in the subject matter than my GP:

    I AM going to ween myself off. How do I do that? Im on 100mg. Should I look to replace with Mirtazapine?

    I’m only 22. In all honesty, the idea of never touching alcohol again is quite troubling, as it is the mainstay of my social life. However, I am open to that if it will give me a better quality of life. What have people found since withdrawing from SSRI’s? Can they enjoy a few social beers, or is it still a no go?

    Looking forward to any thoughts. What a fantastic thread/article.

  56. Wish I’d found this site earlier. Had been on 75mg Effexor XR for 18 months and went from the occasional glass of wine with an evening meal to three bottles per week. Not huge, but my alcohol tolerance had never been that high (pleasantly drowsy after 2nd glass) so I found myself sleeping a lot and gained 20% bodyweight. I approached my GP to come off medication 3 months ago. Initially the medication served the purpose of reducing anxiety and tearfulness and had the pleasant side effect of reducing the menopausal hot flushes and night sweats I’d been experiencing for a couple of years but that soon settled into a general lethargy and constant tiredness. I’m currently studying, was regularly missing morning lectures through sleeping late and needed to be a lot more alert than I had become. Managed to come down to 37.5mg without major problem but struggled with withdrawal for the last bit and had a couple of shots at coming off completely. Have been off meds completely for over a month now and usually don’t manage to finish one glass of wine in the evening. Hot flushes have returned but feeling better than I have for ages and although the venlafaxine served a purpose – I won’t be trying it again.

  57. I hope very soon… I’ve been taking Prozac for about 20 years. I didn’t understand for a long time why I went from a normal/social drinker into someone with a big consumption rate for alcohol.
    I have reduced my Prozac from 40 mg. to 20 mg. a day for the last 3 weeks. I have been experiencing disturbing dreams. Please, send information soon. I am determined to stop this medication and hope to regain my life. With thanks for getting this important information out into the public domain.

  58. My husband was put on Effexor, 150 mg, 8 years ago for “anxiety”. It turned him into an alcoholic. I didn’t notice the increased drinking for a few months, so I didn’t connect the two. He’d been a heavy drinker, but not of overwhelming concern until after Effexor. I started suspecting he was drinking WAY too much and took note of how long it took for his huge beer purchase to disappear–he averaged 8.9 beers a day, and that only encompassed 1 weekend. From that point on, it was a problem. Probably not as big a one as it could’ve been because I’m a “nag”, and I did my best to keep tabs on the beer. There was no way he could stop (and ultimatums didn’t matter), so I put a few beers a day in the fridge and hid the rest. He’d either find them or just buy and hide his own stash. Not a good way to live, but we survived. We argued constantly about the drinking–or things that indirectly stemmed from his drinking. During those early months on Effexor, he also developed a porn addiction–$125 on our cable bill in one month. I put a password on the cable box, and the DVDs rolled in for the next month. Then it just ended.

    So, over 8 years and it gets worse. He didn’t have an appetite (another side effect), so he would go all day without eating and then drink–always at least 3-4 beers a day and more when he could get away with it. He was hiding beer in his home office–he’d come home from work, drink the ones in the fridge then spend the rest of the evening in his office upstairs, drinking and being on the computer. I could tell he was “buzzed” and would confront him–he would get mad, thinking I was just being a b*tch and didn’t know what I was talking about. NOW I know it was because he couldn’t feel the buzz anymore.

    Last year he hit rock bottom. He was off work / working from home for several months and was drinking even more. He was now buying those 24 oz cans of high alcohol-content beer (2 of those cans is the equivalent of a regular 6-pk). He would “work” on his computer at night and drink from his hidden stash. I found out that he was emailing a few former female coworkers and those emails were “inappropriate” in nature. Heck, he even asked me if he could go on a “date” (late lunch–“to a little Italian place”–instead of say, coffee at Denny’s) with his former secretary who was in town visiting without her husband. He’d definitely sent her inappropriate emails, so I said no–not alone anyway. He was mad (but this was at night, drinking when he asked me; next morning he wasn’t put out by my nixing his “date” at all). I was pretty disgusted with his drunken behavior and on my last straw. A few weeks later, he drank so much that one instant he seemed fine (just the usual “buzzed” to me) and the next minute he passed out, fell down, and hit his head on the floor. I called 911 and he spent the rest of the night in the ER. THAT is when we knew something wasn’t right–all night long he kept asking me “how did this happen?” I’d say “you were drunk”, and he’d shake his head and ask it again. HE COULDN’T TELL HE’D HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK! That’s when I started suspecting that Effexor had something to do with it–maybe just liver-related or something, so I was SHOCKED when I found sites like this online talking about SSRIs and alcohol abuse. I read a few stories to him from here and other forum discussions and you could see the lightbulb go off over his head–he finally realized that he couldn’t tell he had ever had too much to drink. That he had “cravings”. That there was a problem. We started to taper him almost immediately. Thankfully I’d read horror stories about Effexor withdrawal, so we’re going VERY slowly–it’s taken a year to get him down to the 37.5 mg pill, and he’s feeling withdrawal effects (mental)–we’ve been hovering here for about 5 weeks and will probably stay a good bit longer even though I’d give anything to get him off it completely to see if the alcohol cravings will go away. Just last night was a bad episode which scared the sh*t out of me. He swears it was only 2 of those tall cans (= a 6-pk) on his way home (on empty stomach), but he was in bad shape, mentally. It was so scary. I guess that’s why I’m back online, looking for more info. This is the first time I’ve posted about it–heck, it’s the first time I’ve told anyone about it. I feel like we’ve lost 8 years of our lives that we can never get back–the last of our “youngish” years thanks to a script happy psychiatrist with plenty of Effexor samples to hand out (6 months to be precise). All hubby went to the doctor for was a script for Ativan like he used to have after grad school for occasional use when anxiety got too bad at business meetings / presentation (one bottle lasted him a year!). But no, they said he needed an EVERY DAY, mind-altering drug and THEN they would prescribe him a benzo–that get this!, he can take 1 per day. WTF?

    Sorry this was so long…..I just had a lot to get off my chest.

  59. Hi – WOW, thank you so much for sharing – I am currently on ciprolex and my drinking is out of control. I woke up last night having yet again experienced night sweats and feeling of omg Im having a heart attack. So to distract myself from feeling like im dying I was googling and came across an interesting word – acetaldehyde. This then lead me to YOU.
    Thank you so so much and I am going to see my doctor today to start cutting back on ciprolex. I hope it helps. If I start getting anxious again ( why I started to take the ciprolex in the first place) then I will try this mirtazapine. thank you !!

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Once you are off Cipralex you should notice your cravings drop dramatically the first month to your pre medicated self or you may find because of the long term daily drinking whilst on medication your pre medicated drinking habits may have increased a little bit. Basically if you craved alcohol only once a week before medication you may find when you stop the medication you will go to twice a week cravings instead.

      Once your off Cipralex If you feel you need more help then go onto 15mg Mirtazapine, you may or may not notice the further reduction happening at first but after about six months you should notice your twice weekly craving slowly reducing all the time from weekly to then fortnightly to then monthly. Then after six months go up to 30mg of Mirtazapine and your cravings should be gone completely. I would stay on Mirtazapine for at least two years to completely rid yourself of any alcohol craving ever returning again.

      I hope this is helpful for you I’m only going by my own personnel experience and it worked for me so I really hope it helps you too.

      • Hi Anne-Marie. thankyou so much, you may have saved my life. I am off SSRis now taking 75 mg seroquol ( trying to fight off horrific withdrawals)… Now 9 months off…. I have been on mirtazipine before (now realise it stopped the drinking, was on zolft then)…. Doctor wants to start me on citalopram (now not a good idea, I think)…. What dose mirt do you think I could start with, when I stabilize, i will cut that down, over 12 months…. 15mg?

  60. Ann Hendershot says:

    My husband was experiencing some anxiety and our family Dr. put him on Escitalopram. He said he felt like it helped him and made him feel more calm. After a few months, I noticed some personality changes in him. He started making up bizarre stories and lying alot. I noticed that he seemed like he was drinking more beer. He has worked at his job for 27 years and never had been written up, A great worker and liked by everyone. During the month of August 2014, I noticed his behavior at home was even more strange. His entire personality changed and I felt like I didn’t even know him. He was aggressive sexually (not his personality) and I felt very uncomfortable that something was wrong. One day he came home early from work and said that he got fired for sexual harassment. I have never seen him like this and have not known him to be like this. And in the back of my mind I keep thinking it’s this drug he is on and the increased drinking. I, myself, noticed at home before he got fired that he was sexually aggressive with me and is was uncomfortable but like I said…it was not his normal personality and I questioned it. I talked to family members about it and our family Dr. After my husband got fired, we made an appt. with our family Dr. and I asked our Dr. if the medication could have made his behavior change. I told our Dr. that I researched the drug and it said that it has been known to make people aggressive. Our Dr. wrote a letter to my husbands employer explaining that he has been on medication but they never responded back. To this day, I believe my husband lost his job due to this drug. He is still on this drug and he is still telling bizarre stories and lying. How can I prove that this drug is not good for him? This website has saved me. I do not know where to turn.

    • Carol Wilson says:

      Agree entirely with you Ann. I believe antidepressants are an underlying contributor to the loss of my marriage and my husbands deteriorating health and mental state. My husband’s disinhibition translated into seeking affairs, thinking his loss of sex drive was my fault, not the drugs. He started to become a risk taker, even pushing his behaviour at work, making legal threats over rumours (yes they were true lol). He even started to drink something alcoholic most nights despite never touching alcohol unless at a dinner party prior. He also became more aggressive and eventually violent. This all happened over an 8 month period 2 years ago and I knew him for 13 years prior and what was considered by many as a happy settled marriage. I had to tell him to leave to be safe. It was all explained by my husband as my fault for not allowing him to live his life as he pleased (meaning his new desire to cheat). My husband was definitely displaying anosognosia. I warned his GP and she ignored me. I even attempted to call his psychiatrist to warn of the increased aggression and violence and he said he wouldn’t discuss anything with me because I was not his patient. At least his receptionist was concerned by my report I left for the psychiatrist as a message along with evidence. The psychiatrist decided to believe my husband that I was the loony.
      I rang AHPRA who said I could issue a complaint about the Dr and Psychiatrist ignoring me. They recommended I contact the Chief Psychiatrist who said I couldn’t complain because I was not the patient. They recommended I contact the department of health who advised they couldn’t do anything because the doctor and psychiatrist were in private practice. There is something very wrong with the system when genuine observations are ignored, people become dangerous and doctors don’t believe you.
      I’ve remained separated and I definitely still don’t know who my husband has become and I want nothing to do with that person.

      • Hi, I was with the love of my life, met him at 16, married at 21, nearly made 30 years together, then the big mistake, I went on effexor. Only took 2 years for my marriage to disintegrate, and another 6 years for my life to fall apart, my life finances disappear, and now I have “”woken”from that horrible dream… that horrific effexor dream, I have to some how cope Show your husband the links here, but he probably wont listen,
        while in that dream? I thought I was well.

  61. Kerry Powell says:

    Would it be possible, for Some one at RxIsk.org to send me a copy of these sad but true stories, to my email address, So I can, start educating people in Australia, I see it all the time, I’m experiencing it myself on Lexapro and I keep seeing it in other people. If it comes in an email I can forward it to my Partner at work, where he can do some photo copies.

    Sincerely Kerry Powell

  62. Carol Wilson says:

    When I was 21, I was put on imipramine for migraine. I was not told it was an antidepressant. I was on it for 3 years. I was in an explosion at 23 and the migraines seemed to be increasing, not diminishing so I felt that the medication wasn’t working so I stopped it. Guess what happened! Two days after I stopped the imipramine I was in a dissociative state having spent a day creating a weapon to go kill people. It took two weeks to snap out of the dissociative state. First diagnosis was a psychotic episode brought on by stress that was probably exacerbating my depression. No one stopped to think of the sudden withdrawal from imipramine. No one told me it was a drug that I ought to have been tapered from. No one warned me that I could become disinhibited, dissociate or become violent. As a non-violent person, I have to live with the memories of that behaviour.
    Not long after this psychotic episode, it was recommended that I spend a week in a psychiatric facility while I adjusted to a new medication called Prozac, something that would help my depression. I tried to tell them that I wasn’t depressed and that I felt something else was going on. What would I know about the state of my mind? I was labelled non-compliant which put enough pressure on me to comply. I felt blackmailed into taking their care or get none at all.
    I felt the effects of Prozac after about 2 weeks when I could feel myself becoming very aggressive and the desire to kill people rise again. The psychiatrist changed me to Zoloft. The feelings didn’t go away and I started to not be able to sleep and found myself surviving on 2 hours a night. The psychiatrist decided I was bipolar and put me on lithium. I have a bad reaction to blood tests so I wasn’t coping with the constant tests. I lasted 3 months before I’d had enough and told the psychiatrist I wasn’t going to take any more blood tests. He changed the lithium to epilum.
    I stayed on that drug for probably 2-3 years. I was still not told you had to taper of these drugs and I started to feel as if my emotional state was deteriorating on the drugs so I stopped them. Two days later I spun into a dissociative state, but this time almost walked in front of a bus. By this time I was living in Sydney and asked immediately for a referral to a psychiatrist to explain the similarity of the episode before. Now the diagnosis had become cyclothymia and something inside me woke up enough to realise that these doctors had no idea what they were doing. I wasn’t going to just take another diagnosis of crazy nor care if I was going to be considered non-compliant for not taking their drugs. Through a chance conversation with a work colleague, I was told psychologists were different. I went along.
    The psychologist diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder from the explosion, theorised that the drugs were exacerbating the symptoms. I underwent the therapy for PTSD and also dealt with the ongoing post-drug withdrawal effects. I still believe that even the diagnosis of PTSD may never have happened if my brain had not already been weakened at a young age by the imipramine and went on being weakened by the nearly 10years of psych drugs. I’ve been through other trauma’s since and my resilience is strong as it was in the few short months after the explosion before the drug withdrawal.
    Along this journey, I was experiencing increased tiredness, unexplained weight gain, increased gut disturbances, electric shocks and increased cravings for alcohol which I kept complaining about. They were all treated as new and separate illnesses and not one doctor ever considered adding up these symptoms and reviewing the known (even if uncommon) side effects of the drugs I was given.
    I continued to experience post-drug withdrawal effects for about another 5 years due to the rapid withdrawal and as a result of the long term use I’ve been left with permanent scars. Years of being on antidepressants has left me permanently with a change in personality, hypoglycaemia, sleep apnoea, allergy development to aspirin and IBS.
    I lost respect for the medical profession and as a result of what I learned along my journey also studied to become a psychologist to add another voice to the therapy community and I continue to read the research and articles on the dangers of psych drugs.
    If I could go back and sue that doctor who failed to disclose that imipramine was an antidepressant and those that didn’t disclose never to stop them suddenly I would. Those warnings didn’t exist back then so they probably wouldn’t be considered liable. The off-label use for migraine ought not have been allowed as it wasn’t part of the studies done to get imipramine registered.
    I would love to see the medical profession stopped from being able to prescribe “off-label” because they think of a theory or because a drug company representative gives them an idea. Especially when it comes to drugging children.

  63. Thanky you so, so much. I had effexor/seroquol/tegretol induced cravings for alcohol, yes drinking during the day. After 8 years had liver damage, stage 3 a kidney problems, and high blood pressure/chol. After failed attempt at getting of meds, I was on zoloft, mirtazipine, serouqo//tegretol. For the first time in 8 years, I went 4 days without a drink…. I never considered that it was the mirt. Lost all family, as my brother died of alcoholism (after going on statins), I was tarred with the same brush, but it didn’t ring true. Off everything now, (and suffering WD, horribly), but I dont crave alcohol anymore….. only maybe twice a week. I hade even been refferred to a place to stop my alcohol addiction,, previiously, damn the addiction was SSRIs!. Oh, off effexor, my blood tests all went back to normal, despite still drinking my bottle of wine a night … So they blame alcohol, no it was effexor doing all the damage! Just a big game, ban alcohol, cigarettes, get everyone addicted to SSRIs……….. thankyou for the Mirt link.

  64. I was so happy I found this, and realise why I craved alcohol, for 8 years, on effexor. I limited it, never drank more than 4-5 glasses of wine a night. I emailed my sister about this.. her reply? Everyone knows effexor makes you drink, you just have to be strong enough not to drink>?? wft? All the dramas effexor caused me, make me reckless, unable to budget, trust people unwittingly, no, all my problems are blamed on some myth of being an alcoholic? Never the small white pill……….

  65. My story is similar to so many here. I was prescribed Effexor xr almost 5yrs ago to help with peri menopausal symptoms. I have always had awful PMS but it became unbearable with the onset of menopause. At the time I had two young children and a business working with people all day. I would feel very agitated, sad, and had this terrible feeling of needing to be as far away from me as possible. I had taken Buspar several years ago for two weeks of each month. I found it really helped at the time. I now wish that my Dr. had prescribed it instead of Effexor.
    I started with 37.5 mg and to be fair, I felt so much better in just a week! I know that these drugs normally take longer than that to work but I had huge relief in a short time. I was so happy to have all those negative feelings gone. I felt like my normal, even keel self again.
    I have always been a social drinker, wine, no spirits and always could take it or leave it. Never craved it. Never had blackouts. I know that the bottles warn against mixing with alcohol and I am not trying to deny my own responsibility but they don’t give all the information.
    The first blackout was a month in. I had a 50th party for my husband and had a few glasses of wine. The next day sections of the evening were gone but not at the end! I couldn’t understand as I didn’t think I had drank anymore than usual. This should have been my first clue. Over the course of the next few years I began to drink more and more. Started to crave alcohol at all times of the day, stopped doing things that would interfere with having wine in the evenings. When I would drink I couldn’t stop, it was never enough. There were evenings that I could have one but not often. I would tell myself in the morning that” I wouldn’t drink today” and would be thankful if I kept my promise. It just takes up too much energy. Thankfully I didn’t get into trouble with family, friends, work or the police. My heart goes out to those of you who did.
    I started believing that I must be an alcoholic and voiced my concerns to my husband and best friend. They both reassured me that I was ok but I wasn’t. I felt terrible guilt and tremendous shame and started to shut down.
    I started researching the effects of alcohol and ssri’s and was amazed to find all of you. I am happy to know that I am not alone but truly wish that none of us were here.
    Two weeks ago I had a bad incident and the next day I didn’t remember much. I do remember feeling so awful at the time and wanting to die. Telling myself that I am a terrible mother and person. I don’t believe this as a rule but things were definitely going really down hill. I had a heart to heart with my husband and daughter. They had witnessed the night before. As a result I stopped taking Effexor that day and will never go back.
    I had halved my dose about a year ago to 18.75mg or so after another bad episode.( Surprisingly this small amount worked fine for me.) I have not found it too bad, my family might contest that! I have also stopped drinking which I thought would be extremely challenging. I have found the cravings have gone. We were away on holiday this week and the thought of not having a glass of wine was scary but I did it. I didn’t think much about it. I don’t know if I will drink again, right now I’m taking it one day at a time. I worry that I may have done irreparable damage to my brain. Has anyone experienced any long term changes after stopping the drugs? Thanks for listening/ reading it feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted. I wish everyone all the best, take care.

    • I know exactly !! What u have been through. It’s like reading my own story except my wife didn’t take the time to understand what was really going on. I quit ssri’s after 8 years and everything in my life went went back to normal as I assumed it would . Prior to quitting ssri’s , my drinking habits were problematic just like most people on this forum. I have been off of ssri’s for 2 years and have no issues at all when it comes to being a social drinker now. My only problem has been the damage the ssri’s caused. Permanent panic attacks !!! It’s been terrible . Never had a problem in my life with anxiety before the ssri’s so I know that’s the problem . But I have to tell you the Optimism in my life. After trying everything under the sun I discovered GABA at the herbal store . It cured or majorly affected my anxiety in a positive way. What a relief after 2 years . So I definitely would encourage you to try GABA. My conclusion is After 8 years on Effexor and celexa I believe it does permanent damage to the GABA receptors next to seretinue in the brain . I actually have my life back after using GABA. Please let me know what works for you , I wish u well!

  66. Anne-Marie says:


  1. […] Ive told my story on Dr David Healys website davidhealy.org. To go straight to my story click here DavidHealy.org | Out of my mind. Driven to drink this story helps to explain why some people get the cravings/alcohol abuse whilst taking SSRIS. […]

  2. […] treatments their problem clears up. We need to hear from such people. The example of Anne-Marie in Out of My Mind shows what can be […]

  3. […] out and detached but was assured by my doctor that these symptoms would settle down. – See more at: DavidHealy.org | Out of my mind. Driven to drink And I have a friend who if he doesn't take his Paxil he gets sick in less than 24 hours. […]

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