Out of My Mind. Driven to Drink

March, 15, 2012 | 193 Comments


  1. 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.

      • Will you give me an interview? I am making a documentary about the adverse effects of SRRI and antipsychotics drugs.

        My son died on these drugs and I want the world to know what lurks out there that is coming to their door step. If it hasn’t already.
        you can call me at 646 484 5481


        • Catherine –

          I on day three without celexa. I am almost certain these drugs increased my desire to consume alcohol. I am eager to see where I am at 6 weeks from now. Will keep you updated! Please let me know when you have completed your documentary, I am very interested in watching. These drugs are dangerous. There needs to be a better way.

      • I have been on Cymbalta for 6yrs. I noticed I was having alcohol cravings out of the blue years ago but didn’t make the link until I joined a FB page for Cymbalta withdrawal. I am a moderate drinker always have been, i don’t act on the cravings. I am weaning off this drug slowly its hard. The more we share our story of psych drugs the harder it is for our prescribers to deny the myriad side effects and dangers.

    • 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?

      • Will you give me an interview? I am making a documentary about the adverse effects of SRRI and antipsychotics drugs.

        My son died on these drugs and I want the world to know what lurks out there that is coming to their door step. If it hasn’t already.
        you can call me at 646 484 5481


          • I was taking SSRI citalopram and it has ruined my life with alcohol dependance, arrest, loss of my job as soon as I stopped and starting to taking mirtazapine I was able to give up alcohol.
            Please ask your Doctor to change your husbands medication to mirt

    • I am so pleased I read this article, I now have some hope, which I didn’t when I woke up. I had never drunk alcohol all through my teens my twenty and part of my thirtys, so when I was prescribed Prozac I never put two and two together. That shortly after I started to like alcohol, how was this, how can someone go from no alcohol to over the years wanting more, my cravings can be so strong, I seem to have lost my way with drink, when everything else in my life I am so strong.
      This has helped me so much, it would be lovely to hear from anyone else who is going through the same thing.

    • Before I was prescribed Zoloft in 1996, I rarely drank alcohol. Within a month of taking the Zoloft, I got intense cravings for alcohol, to the point of drinking a 40 ounce bottle of Canadian Club in a period of 4 hours. I also noticed that the Zoloft prevented any hangovers. I quit Zoloft years ago, but the alcohol cravings are still there. I now have alcoholic hepatitis. I have quit drinking, but the cravings have never gone away. I did try Mitazapine, but it made me tremble uncontrollably and severely affected my speech to the point of where I could barely speak. I also know a woman who was prescribed Zoloft and she developed a severe gambling addiction. She quit the Zoloft years ago, but her gambling addiction remains. Thanks for the great article. It finally gave me some answers to why I became an alcoholic.

    • Ive been on paraxatine for 15 years since i was 30. until i started taking the paxil I never could stand drinking alcohol as it made me very very ill. then i started drinking all the time. a lot of drinking was in excess and it has gotten worse over the years to point where i cant keep doing it. I am glad to have found this article because it really does shed a lot of light on a problem that is a lot more common than people are lead to believe. I don’t have a lot of time for doctors. to me they are just drug peddlers for big pharma.

  2. 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. 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. Anne-Marie,
    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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?



    • My brother is drinking just like you did Anne Murray. Now he is in a rehab 17 days sober and suffering severe anxiety panic attacks. Do you have any suggestions as he needs help now. They are giving him Ativan once in awhile. Thank you Joann Atwood

    • I tried to drink on them and same thing. Is never enough of alkohol, a bit similar like drinking on amfetamines or cocaine. Next day strong anxiety.

    • I’m researching this now since I am having the same issue. I am taking Sertraline and I can have 1 drink or 3 and then nothing. I am totally blacked out. But I know Ive been functioning as my friends and strangers have told me, Ive also seen pictures and videos of me functioning as a totally normal human being. But I cant remember a single thing. There’s no buzz to tell me to slow down. Its just as if I finish up a drink and then boom, its the next morning and I wake up in my bed. Its happened to my three times now and I have only been on this medication for 2 months. I am so scared of how I could seem to be functioning normal and not remember a thing that my anxiety ramps up. But on a positive note, my irritation about little things in life, job, and husband has seemed to subside. I feel like I am hanging in the balance of being happy but also scared of what Zombie Me is doing without knowing.

    • No,
      This is an exact feeling of what I have been trying to describe to my wife for a long time. I do things so embarrassing, and get into anger swings. I have a love hate relationship with SSRIs.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    • go to surviving antidepressants website….. reinstate half dose, and taper more slowly…go to the site first. Venlaxafine is the devil’s tic tac’s… not many can give it up without bridging to another….

      • Hi, if you do fine a way to deal with this problem please let me know. I have a long history of SSRI use & find now that when I reduce my dose even slowly over 6 months my personality changes. Like Dr Jekel & Mr Hyde. I become a different, volatile angry person. I take 30mg of Citalopram each evening. My conclusion after 20 years is that long term use of SSRI or SNRI rewires the brain. It depends on your perspective as to whether this is of primary concern because ultimately they enable me to function. Yes I drink too much alcohol, which has gone up considerably in the past 5 years. It’s a trade off. Do I live in a chemically induced world probably but hey, I can’t function in the so called real world. By the way, I’m a high thinking professional who earns a good living. Any answers?

        • Your surviving,…. questions to consider
          1. have kidney and liver tests, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes. Also FBC….If they bad, you have a choice of dying on the ADs or trying to give em up. Honestly, depending on your age, and family situation, a choice would need to be made.
          2. If you want to give up, research….if your alcohol is increasing… can you limit the alcohol, so it doesnt increase any more?
          3. Would you like to know the “real you”before you die?
          Just a few thoughts. I know myself off ADs and I like the old me…. hope I can find it again. ADs made me unemployable and Jeckyl and Hyde….and worse.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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?

  30. 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.

  31. 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. 🙂

    • 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.

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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….

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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?

  47. 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.

  48. 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??

  49. 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.

  50. 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

  51. 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

  52. 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

      • I have realized that I need to stop drinking alcohol completely too late.

        I am only in my 20s. I have been on the highest dosage of ssris that my body is allowed for the past 3 or 4 years. I never really had the opportunity to drink during these early times, and therefore I cannot relate to the cravings for alcohol which is then folliwed by addiction as described in the rest of this thread in others’ stories.

        I have however whenever alcohol was available or even in my presence had urges of indulging followed by deep bouts of shame.

        Along with other incidents, my most horrible experience so far is when I do drink. I drink a lot. My soul mate and I would drink the same amount even though he has 10 years of experience drinking behind him. Due to not drinking often, my tolerance is low and I already feel myself becoming someone else after just one or two drinks. At the end of all these nights I have blanks in my memory as though I was drugged, although by all witness accounts I never slurred, never stumbled to show the typical signs of drunkenness except for completely out of character behavior. This lead them to always say “but you weren’t even drunk! You were fine” and to believe I’m just looking for excuses for the horrible things I’ve done.

        As a result of these alcoholic drunken trances I have now cheated 3 times on my SM. An unusual effect of my meds on me is that I get hypersexual, and sexually manic when drunk. The problem is it does not stay in our relationship, although when sober I have no thoughts about possibly wanting anyone but him. I have never cheated on him by having sex, but he believes that I would have if I had had the chance.

        The most recent time I was able to snap out of this trance when he found me but apparently I ended up telling him the guy was groping me and I want to get out of here. Long story short the guy made it very clear to my SM that I initiated it all and that he was actually completely celibate.

        The previous times he has forgiven me due to circumstances but now thinks that cheating is just a part of who I am as alcohol brings out your “true colours”.

        I’m seeing him today for what will probably be the last time, although (after this last incident it all snapped into place in my mind and after doing research on it all night) I begge him not to leave and told him I will stop drinking completely as I Do not enjoy the person I become. (which I will do regardless of him for my own health, as well as get off my medication as they have increased suicidal thought tendencies as well in any case). We were planning on having a baby an snow I’m going to lose all of it. He was already my family although we hadn’t tied the knot yet.

        I wish I could see research papers done on exactly what the chemical reaction in the brain is that causes people on ssris and alcohol to go so completely manic.

        If anyone has any advice for me on how to possibly deal with not losing this man please don’t hesitate to contact me. Or if you have experienced something similar.


        I’m losing my soulmate due to becoming a manic sexual predator as well as getting total blackouts and apparently not even acting drunk when I have had anything to drink. Not yet addicted to alcohol but do get cravings as described in this thread. Need research to be done on this before I mess up the rest of my life completely as well.

        • Stay with your mate, explain. Then taper off the meds. There is no highest limit. I was on masses of the crap. If I can get off them at age 50 anyone can. http://www.survivingantidepressants.org I never believed I would be happy again, I am. You can do it.
          The meds cause all this crap, they fry your brain. Be strong, fight, regain your brain. Its yours it does not belong to your psychiatrist or your pharmacist.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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 !!

    • 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?

  58. 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.

    • 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.

      • That sounds like mania, which can be triggered by anti-depressants. It’s a really common side effect and one doctors know about.

        • No its definitely not mania. This is SSRI induced alcoholism. It responds to stopping treatment or an S-3 antagonist


          • Latest email sent regarding reported SSRI induced alcohol abuse. Mention of S3-Antagonist drugs may mediate these symptoms? I’m UK based so medication names differ somewhat. Do you think Mirtazapine would help reduce my alcohol use if I changed from long term SSRI?

  59. 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

    • Hi Kerry. I found this web page discussing the alcohol cravings. I hope this contact works for you. I’m interested in your findings as this is me to a tee. I am off to my GP to ask for an alternative and wondered what your findings were eg mirtazapine.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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……….

  63. 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!

    • Are you kidding me, irreparable brain damage. I became a raging, violent, psychotic maniac from developing into a full fledged alcoholic and completely destroying my family as psychiatrists prescribed so many drugs to treat this imaginary ‘chemical imbalance’ they claimed I had. I have been on the drugs for 35 years. I gave up my entire life. Psychiatry ripped my family apart with psychiatric drug addictions, chronic alcoholism, and violence. I was so spellbound by my drugs I was convinced I was the worse case of Bipolar they had ever seen. While I’m in constant mania after starting the drugs or withdrawals because they change our drugs like they change their underwear all the while psychiatrists are telling me that my severe, psychotic withdrawal symptoms are nothing more than my underlying mental illness. Then my mental healthcare workers tell me that after 10 years on Klonopin that its ‘just fine’ to cold turkey off of it. Now, I don’t know how many of you out there who have had to endure the mentally torturous benzo withdrawal ‘cold turkey’ but if you have you know the horror.

      Now here’s where the irreparable brain damage comes in. Three years past my withdrawal I still have abnormal EEG which are very strange episodes every night – they also cause terrifying nightmares if your asleep when they hit.

      Severe cognitive problems like problem solving, planning things, learning, processing and remembering information. I have severe memory problems but what I also learned on my daily psychiatric drug research quest was that Benzodiazepines can not only cause Dementia, but it prevents the brain from creating new memories while your taking it. When your brain loses it’s own memory, from the drugs they prescribe, you lose alot of who you are as a person. It’s in all the literature. If I can see it how come doctors can’t see it? So those of us who have pretty much been lifers, if you’ve been involved in the Mental Healthcare ‘death’ field as long as I have. Your brain is pretty much fried. I have ocular problems, and insomnia. I will never get better. This is my reward for surviving the withdrawals.

      So in a nutshell, Yes, the drugs can cause irreparable damage, it’s happening everyday to almost every man, woman and child (including babies) that are being drugged in America, Today. And this is extremely tragic.

      • Yes years on effexor, unluckily too late to go back to my usual life, was all destroyed. I live with the shame and guilts, and anger that effexor did this to me, every day. I am trying to get well, and come to terms with these evils drugs that destroyed the marriage I had, he was the love of my life, but its all gone now, cant go back.

  64. Hi Anne-Marie. I was recently off all SSRIs etc. going thru horrific withdrawals. Was nice that I no longer craved alcohol. ANYWAY, I TRIED REINSTATING MIRTAZAPINE. Sorry to say, BUT THE CRAVINGS CAME BACK. I suppose we are all different, but perhaps your recommendation to switch to MIRT, doesn’t work for all of us.

  65. I started taking Paxil and busiperone for depression and anxiety, early November 2014. Like most people have posted, I was a social drinker but never had a problem with craving alcohol. At first the meds started to make me feel better, but beginning in March, anytime I had a couple of drinks, I would be fine one minute and totally trashed the next. I have driven myself home and woke up the next morning not remembering a thing. Since then, I am actually craving alcohol, just wine. We have beer and liquor in the house but I don’t touch it, which is what led me to believe there was something going on other than I just turned into an alcoholic overnight. Every time this happens my husband and I have huge fights. I can’t really blame him if he decides to leave me. I’m awful. I love him more than anything but I can’t control the urge to stop by the store and buy some wine. He thinks I’m an alcoholic. I know there is something more to it. It is not a physical need. It’s psychiatric. So today after another disastrous alcohol binge. I decided to do some research to see if anyone else has had this problem. I am so relieved to have found this site and others like it. I have decided to quit taking the Paxil today. Hopefully, since I haven’t been on it too long, it won’t be as difficult. Thanks all for sharing your stories!

    • Amy, “”Ï have decided to quit taking the Paxil today”……… BEWARE!~
      Do you work? Have kids to look after? Going Cold Turkey IS NOT RECOMMENDED. A great support website is surviving antidepressants anyone can read there, get your husband to read it too…. be wiser than me, find out HOW to kick the habit, dont just suddenly stop… your body may go into dive mode, very hard to climb back out if that happens, for me I tapered over 3 months, and six months later the “dive happened”…. I tried reinstating anything and everything, nothing worked…….. Now after 6 months, I am able to do the dishes, read a newspaper (just), and sometimes manage to cook a meal for my son and myself. It is that bad, worse than the depths of hell, and only think to do, is keep surviving each day………. six months I have been like this, and the cloud is finally lifting, now and again. The pills kill, but once addicted, not so easy to “just stop taking them”……

      Yes you have the adbvantage you haveint been on them long, if you choose to go cold turkey, good luck….. and join the surviving antidepressants site, would be good to see how you go. Best wishes

      I never realised either, yes for me it is a wine need. It is a physical need, antidepressants mess up the gut (most serotonin receptors are in the gut).. and side effects are weight gain (eating exactly the same amount of food), and sugar level imbalance. I am sure the wine, gives an immediate, sugar kick. It was only getting off the medicationss, and then desperately trying to reinstate, one at a time…. that the pattern became so clear.
      All the pills have the same effect oon me, including mirtazipine, wroquol, zoloft, citalopram, effexor…….

      • Ang
        I know I shouldn’t stop cold turkey, but I was so horrified when I read all of the accounts posted here, I just did not want it in my body another day. I’m 46 years old and my children are grown. I did warn my husband about possible side effects of withdrawal. I’m so glad he read the other stories on here so he finally knows what I’ve been going through. I’ve been off it for three days now. Fortunately, the only side effects I’ve encountered are dizziness, but not so severe as vertigo; extremely vivid dreams; night sweats; crying spells; and slight anxiety. I’m still taking my other anxiety medication, busiperone, that could be helping keeping the anxiety level manageable. I’m just going to take it one day at a time. I will definitely join the surviving antidepressants site. I would love to share my experiences with everyone taking antidepressants or considering them.
        Thanks for the advice!

        • Hi Amy, so, so glad you know what you “may” be in for. If you get suicidal thoughs, remembere they are “”not real” if you feel guily and “runinate”over past deeds they too “”are not real”….merely your undrugged mind trying to readjust. I hope youy have an easy ride, and perhaps give up your other medication further down the track. I was on antidpressants also from age 45 for 8 years, and it made me unemployable, nasty, drink too much and “blackout”, lost my marriage, and all my finances, all the time believing I was well…. Everyone seemed to blame the wine, but I knew it wasnt that, underneath, and I guess when you only crave wine (which I did limit), I dont and never did believe I was an alcoholic. And when I gave up all meds, and I didnt even feel like having a drink, wow!…. I have a tough ride last six months however, tried reinstating things, none worked, all made me worse…. my only drug now is seroquol, and I needed that to survive all the reinstatement trials….. Anyway, be proud of yourself, no matter how hard or easy it becomes, it

          • it is well worth it! I found employment, early days yet, but if after 8 years it took me only 2 years to kick the effexor habit, I am lucky. I had to switch to zoloft, then come off the zoloft, so I guess a bumpy ride for 2 years really, but now I realise what a drugged up “not be”person I was for 10 years of my life, is still hard to accept and deal with.

            Well done!

        • I am ang on survivng antidepressants, send me a message each day, thru that site, when you work it all out.. would love to communicate with you, and see how you get one! In hindsight, I am sure my only problem was menopause…. and I couldnt sleep, that was all….

        • Hi Amy,
          I had posted here a couple months ago after 5years on Effexor. I had the same sort of nightmare experience it seems that you have been having. There is a real problem when the cure becomes a bigger problem than the original issue. I had stopped taking Effexor cold turkey and had a lot of brain zaps but felt really good otherwise for a few months. Then I started to go down hill again. I hadn’t stopped drinking though.Three months ago I stopped again but also quit drinking. The first couple weeks I was up and down but I feel fine now. The alcohol cravings diminished immediately and I seldom think about having a glass of wine now.
          Of course everyone is different and will react differently when coming off them. I hope that you can remain free of them but if you do start to feel badly again listen to your body but tell your Dr. the problem with alcohol. I think that there are other drugs available that work differently.
          Good Luck and know that you are not alone.

          • Hi Fiona, my nightmare was after 8 years on effexor. It caused damaged liver, kidneys, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol…….. after failed attempt to give up the drugs, ended up on more, but at least not effexor. All the above problems disappeared, but the drinking one didnt. The dear old psych wanted to put me on about drug number six I think? Methodone, for my alcohol (One bottle of wine a night)….. No thanks, way to many drugs, the solution has been giving up all the drugs…. but it has been the hardest thing, I have ever done, 6 months after giving them up, and feeling great, the Withdrawals hit… 6 months of indescribable hell.. (and reistatements no longer work, my brain is healing)..
            So great to realise I am not alone, also.
            Just wanted to say, after six months of walking thru hell, I am improving….. so all fellow suferers, YES YOU WILL MAKE IT!

  66. Thank you so much for writing this and to all the people who replied. My story is not much different only that I have been on antidepressants (ssri) for 16 years. I have been binge drinking the whole time. Fortunately keeping it to the weekends but over the last 5 I have been CRAVING it. Middle of the day – after work whenever. I have weaned myself down from 30 of cipralex to about 8mg when the discontinuation effects are unbearable. I originally was looking for the discontinuation symptom of mania but also wondered about alcohol. What a relief that I am NOT crazy and that I am actually doing the right thing. Hopefully my drinking will be better controlled now. Instead of feeling regret I simply feel grateful that I don’t have to walk around labelling myself as an alcoholic for the rest of my life. Good luck to everyone on here.

    • I also was relieved when I read the article. I know my cravings stopped when off of all the SSRIs and companion drugs. A great free information and support site is surrviving antidepressants…. I have not heard of withdrawals causing mania, but if you are worried, go to the site and research it. I only realised when off the effexor, than I have been semi manic the whole 8 years, while on the drug.
      I have had to restart seroquol, to help cope, and that also makes me want to drink wine.
      I hate it, but am not too hard on myself, as I know when I get off this last drug, the cravings will stop, again.
      In my family, everyone just believed I was “”going”” like my brother, who died an alcoholic. Now I realise his drinking began when he was put on either drugs for high blood pressure, or cholesterol.

      Good luck and best wishes.

  67. just wanting to make it very clear.

    I went off SSRIs and all the accompanying drugs…. wine cravings went. My withdrawals were horrible, so I tried reinstating previouus medications… one at a time, for three weeks each, with three week space before next trial. (All trials made me worse).

    HOWEVER, THE MIRTAZAPINE TRIAL, HAD ME AGAIN CRAVING ALCOHOL. So everyone is different. Just dont want people hoping Mirtazinpine will not cause alcohol cravings. IN DOES IN ME…….. All these drugs do.

    But being aware of it, is so much empowering. I am only on seroquol at present, cravings not too bad. But again drugs and drink, are a bad combination. I am never sure if I am Jeckyl or Hyde….

    • Its all to do with different subtypes and genetics you may be a different subtype there are several different types but its still early days yet to know all of them individually as they are still researching it but they have identified type A & B with genetics.

  68. Feeling very emotional reading your story. I have been taking Seroxat for over 16 years, 20 mg, which I was prescribed for post-natal depression. My tolerance level for alcohol has risen up and up. I don’t feel a compulsion to drink but when I do I don’t have an ‘off’ switch and have upset the people close to me with erratic behaviour which I cannot remember the next day. I have tried several times to come off of the seroxat by reducing the dose, but it makes me feel so ill to reduce it. Doctors have not been helpful and don’t seem to care about leaving patients on this drug with no check-ups.

  69. go to website http://www.survivingantidepressants.com for help, a voluntary website, is wonderful, it has saved me. Yes, on the ADs there is no off switch, you can drink, and keep drinking, and stay on your feet, when normally you would be asleep.
    The blackouts happen, as the ADs keep you drinking way beyond normal limits…….
    I could only limit myself if I bought one bottle, of wine, and drank just that, otherwise I would guzzle. Now I have cut down on the ADs, only on seroquol, I can go easily 3 days without wine, that is a start, I am sure once I am off the seroquol, I will be fine………… I just craved wine, not spirits, weird. On effexor (all clear now I have regained my drugged brain)… I used to drink about 10 cups of coffee in the mornings, then drink wine afternoons and evening…………. so weird………… now I am fine. Thank goodness for the help I got from my on line support group.

    Good luck.

  70. Thank you so so so so much for sharing this with us. You will not believe what a difference you have made to my life.
    I am 51 and after having my first son at 23 had been on and off Imipramine for nearly 30 years. 11 months ago I saw a locum GP and she convinced me that Imipramine was a very old antidepressant and that I should go on a more modern one, so reluctantly I was put on Sertraline. I was a social drinker. I have a season ticket at my local football ground and go with a ‘bunch of lads’ and we all like a drink before the game. But after a couple of months on Sertraline my alcohol intake spiralled. I didn’t ‘crave’ alcohol but if I had a problem, I’d have a drink and I couldn’t leave a bottle of alcohol in the wine rack cos if it was there I’d drink it and I didn’t know why. Like I say, I didn’t crave it but I was drinking it rather than having a cup of tea and always came home from football out of my skull.
    It got to a point where people were commenting on my drinking but I knew I was drinking too much but didn’t really see there was a problem. I didn’t drink first thing in the morning but quite a few times I’d wake up in the morning with a hangover and hadn’t even been out.
    So when I found your article, I went to the doctor 6 weeks ago, only 6 weeks and was put back on Imipramine and the difference in just 6 weeks is amazing. My alcohol intake already has more than halved and I feel like a different person. I’m really embarrassed about my alcohol intake because I don’t think people will believe me. They think I was an alki but hopefully they will see the change in me like I am already seeing.
    Thank you so so so much. I am telling everyone your story and how it helped me.

    • Absolutely, sertraline, zoloft, effexor, all really bad for me………. yes and when you have this reputation, gained because of these horrific drugs, it is really hard to try and regain your self esteem………. They are all, such evil drugs.

  71. Blaming SSRI’s for addiction is like blaming bullets for shootings. Alcoholism/addiction is a disease. The genetic dysfunction is based in the nucleus accumbens and has a documented genetic component. Will altering the seretonin/dopamine level have an effect on cravings for a mood altering chemical? Of course. But relating it as the “cause” shows a lack of knowledge in peer reviewed pharmaceutical addiction medicine.

    • With respect this is wrong. Tuberculosis has a genetic component. Ditto lung cancer. Some people are susceptible, others aren’t but we don’t say your genes cause TB. In the same way SSRIs cause 5HIAA levels to fall in the brain in some and rise in others and perhaps in this way activate a propensity in some but not in others. Its the activation that’s the causal factor not the propensity.

      David Healy

      • Absolutely, well said Dr Healy. If addiction is a so called disease, why has my “addiction” to wine, suddenly gone, along with my use of SSRIs? The addiction was the SSRIs…. not easy getting off them, that was the hard bit. The need for alcohol no longer exists, I again have a rational brain telling me not to drink to excess, not to drink and drive……….. a rational brain that got lost on Effexor. On these drugs, I would drink coffee all morning, wine all afternoon…… yes a completely screwed up life, an out of whack metabolism, YES CAUSED BY SSRIs………… I no longer crave coffee, or alcohol. The imbalance caused by these horrific drugs, we are never, ever warned about.
        Dr C? Next you will be saying SSRIs are safe in pregnancy………………………shame on you. If you want to know the truth? Take the shit yourself.

    • Over 20 yrs into my marriage and husband was placed on Effexor, 150 mg, for generalized anxiety that had increased after his father died. For 20 years he’d been fine, drinking-wise, until after he got on Effexor. Then, within months, I labeled him an alcoholic. He would drink as long as there was beer in the house—cold, hot, didn’t matter. He could no longer tell when he’d had too much. Unbeknownst to us, he’d lost the ability to feel “the buzz”! This led to a lot of risky incidences too numerous to mention. Now he just seemed to live to drink. Miraculously, it did not affect his job, only his personal life (bad judgment, disinhibition, apathy). This is NOT my husband, a highly educated man who has a great career.
      One night, after drinking all day (and not eating, another side-effect of Effexor—reduced appetite) when I was gone, he ended up in the ER with “acute alcohol intoxication”. As I stood there beside him all night holding his hand, he kept asking me “how did this happen?”, over and over. He’d shake his head whenever I said it was because he’d had too much to drink. That’s when I realized something must be going on inside him that kept him from being able to tell he’d had too much to drink. It made me FINALLY think that Effexor might have something to do with it, so I started my research.
      I found some similar stories of how Effexor affects those drinking alcohol, and he was able to see that it sounded like him. Thankfully he agreed to come off. It’s been a slow process (2 yrs and counting, going slowly because of all the w/d horror stories we’ve read), but even though he still drinks (it’s a “normal” amount now unless it’s a party), it’s been over 6 months since he’s had enough alcohol to be “drunk” (whereas before, it was often nightly that he was buzzed).
      Yeah, try telling me that Effexor isn’t involved in this! Nothing else has changed—no AA, no “trying” not to drink, etc., and his drinking now isn’t compulsive and excessive like it was when he was on 150 mg of Effexor. He’s down to 17 mg now—we remove 1 extra “bead” inside the capsule every 2 months (didn’t have to go this slowly until he got below the lowest dose of 37.5 mg where he hung out for several months to stabilize).
      He was put on Effexor in 2006, and it took until 2013 to discover that it was the cause of his mental, personal, and physical deterioration (there were other side-effects we weren’t aware of until he started getting off and they fell by the wayside). Meanwhile, he has to continue to take a drug that he should NEVER have been put on, a drug that he no longer needs, a drug that he wants OFF of, but he’s still taking it because if he doesn’t he won’t be able to perform at work or at life in general. The ones at the pharmaceutical companies who make the decisions to send drug reps to the doctors (GPs) to try and increase the prescription of these meds (for other than the worst-case scenarios in psych wards) should be required to go on these drugs themselves for 1 year….then see how they feel about it.

      • Yep my downfall was the dreaded effexor, 375mg. Coffee all morning, wine afternoon and evening. Then the blackouts, couldnt remember…. I am off the stuff now, the addiction to alcohol, well gone…………

        SSRIs are evil…. Other drugs also cause this wanting to keep drinking thing, seroquel, also…….

        I never drank before the effexor. I still blame my personality change, on the effexor, and not the drinking. No concept of bad things happening from things I did, financial disaster!

  72. And according to some idiots, everything is a “disease” or a “war”. Hightly emotive words words for depression, addiction, etc, that have absolutely no basis in disease…. of any shape or form. And if bullets stop shootings, take away the bullets……. if that is SSRIs, take the garbage away. DR C, are you saying that without a bullet, people can still get shot? Well how??????????????? Read the inserts to these drugs, the homicides, suicides, marriage breakups, every evil that can be caused, can be caused by these drugs…… and yes if you take them away, yes the horrific side effects, listed on those pages and the horrors they cause, well just like taking away a bullet, without a bullet, without a drug to make you ridiculously blaise about everything, no damage is then done………..

  73. Well I appealed 2 times with an expert and lost my case I then reapplied with a different expert to the CCRC and not only had to wait 4 years almost but I then came across a comment by Dr C above who said this “Blaming SSRI’s for addiction is like blaming bullets for shootings. Alcoholism/addiction is a disease. The genetic dysfunction is based in the nucleus accumbens and has a documented genetic component. Will altering the serotonin/dopamine level have an effect on cravings for a mood altering chemical? Of course. But relating it as the “cause” shows a lack of knowledge in peer reviewed pharmaceutical addiction” . I decided then to give up my appeal as I do not have faith in the system and believe they still will regardless of what ever proof I have take the side of Dr’C above. I would have risked quite a lot to have gone on with the appeal even though I know it was the drug. I have already been to prison five times because of the combination and don’t feel strong enough to risk landing up there again. My advice as a patient/defendant to anyone considering legal action is I wouldnt bother unless more of the medical community are alongside but of course the risks are up to you but as things stand at the moment I don’t think our cases are strong enough.

    • I agree Anne marie My newborn died of HLHS 19 years ago, he was born fine, died in agony after 3 days….. ( RIP steven 24-8-96 – 27-8-96 ) he was poisoned in utero, by zoloft I used for only a few weeks into pregnacy…… I reported the death to TGA and elsewhere. Yes Zoloft was to blame, all ignored, covered up. Now they are finally suing in USA, so I wanted a copy of my original report to the TGA, there was none, filed in the bin. So what is the point of trying? It just damages our health anyway. All we can do to help is make our cause public, inform people. If only I could have used Internet 20 years ago, instead of relying on “”authorities” perhaps I could have saved some of the pain and trauma, now experienced by thousands, of parents, all told that Zoloft is safe…………..

  74. I’m really sorry for your loss Ang and you’re right it’s all about warnings. I only wanted to go to court to clear my name so I could get a job but I’m approaching an age where it doesn’t make any difference anymore.

    Im sick of courtrooms, the years of waiting and fighting because in my experience they always side with the system not whats right or wrong. Ive seen police staff lying in court when it was clear there was a cover up and the magistrates still sided with them. I have lost my trust and faith in the courts and system and fighting them only makes you ill in the long run. I’ve become a bitter, angry, spiteful and a depressed person to everyone around me. I have mood swings and irritability like you wouldn’t believe. A complete different person to whom I was before the medication. Going to court can destroy you mentally. Its just not worth letting them have your soul as well.

    You’re also right telling our stories is whats most important to help warn others because you can’t rely on MHRA to do it.

  75. I’ve been on Prozac for 3 years. I’ve been reading and rereading every post for hours. I can’t believe that I’m not insane this is a real thing. Thank you!

  76. Just had a rapid response to an editorial in BMJ published re this topic. Its scary how many people go through this side effect and still it’s not properly acknowledged. I am coming off Citalopram due to daily alcohol cravings, and have just been put on Prozac by a new GP with no discussion of the issue!! Will not be touching this with a barge pole. Perhaps depression /anxiety may be less damaging in the long run. Let the roller coaster begin.

    • HI Jelly2112, dont go off the tablets Cold Turkey, you need to taper at 10% of previous dose, no more than every 6 weeks, reduce slowly. there is a site called surviving antidepressants, has all the information you need, to try and come off safely.

      • Thanks Ang, don’t worry I am doing it slow enough to be safe. I went to 10 mg a day then 10 mg every other day and currently 10mg every 3 days before stopping in a couple of weeks. I feeling Ok at the moment side effect wise apart from brain feeling a bit ‘disassociated’!.

        • Jelly2112. I hope you are OK, but seriously you should consider reinstating immediately, and doing a proper taper. You might be fine for 6 months, then the crash happens. You virtually gone cold turkey, that certainly wasnt slow enough to be safe. If you need the site (and you will) it is http://www.survivingantidepressants.com

          • Is it really possible to rewire a ‘rewired brain’ because I think SSRI’S rewire the brain. We can try to stop taking them even tampering slowly but rebound due to serotonin depletion will cause a whole list of debilitating symptoms & make you feel like your losing your mind, which of course you literally are!

    • Very interesting article, very, very first time they have mentioned Antidepressent use, causing this madness….. Previously just blamed alcohol. Of course when both cause this reaction, usually the alcohol gets the blame, but why? Without the Antidepressant use, people would not crave the alcohol, and would just me the typical drunk, non aggressive, and usually asleep!!

  77. And all the time it’s ignored it will just keep happening. They blame the alcohol and individual because its easier than blaming the drugs that rakes in millions. Human life obviously means nothing to the authority’s otherwise they would take it seriously.

  78. I believe antidepressant fave my husband alcohol cravings and by the time he went off them he was already an alcoholic and couldn’t stop drinking. I went to his GP that prescribed them to tell him about his erratic behavior and heavy drinking and he told me I was in denial that my husband was an alcoholic. I went through 3 years of absolute hell. Left him twice, but loved him so much I tried everything I could think of to get him help, nothing worked. When he got a DUI And was facing his biggest fear in life (jail time) he committed suicide may 7 2015. The antidepressant he started with was Effexor and the celexa. I feel such guilt because I was the one that convinced him he needed to go to the Dr and get some help with his depression, he was sinking fast,and his Dr put him on antidepressants. He had tried effexor a few years before, and 6 weeks in started drinking and acting crazy. He got into trouble and blamed the antidepressants, he stopped them and stopped drinking, and Sank into a bad depression, 4 years later I convinced him to try another antidepressant not ever thinking they would cause alcohol cravings. I thought they just made the affects of the alcohol stronger he went on celexa and felt amazing. I was so happy to have my husband back, that lasted a few months and then he started drinking and drinking HARD.
    Now he is dead!

    • My most deepest sympathies Debbie. I can’t imagine your loss . And one of the saddest things Is that the GP’s of our time aren’t educated enough to know these new problems that arise with ssris. They use old stereotypes like ohh he’s an alcoholic because they don’t know any better . I know because I lived it . 8 years on ssri I craved alcohol terribly and became an idiot with the combination . I lost everything but my life! 3 years off now and my alchohol problems to my family and gps concern has meracoulsly dissapeared but I know the real reason . Sad times we live in where people are dispensed at the sake of personal gain and profit . Just another form of greed that ruins everything that makes me grateful to love humanity .

      • Thanks for sharing Mark. The effexor is pure poison. I also lost everything in only 8 years, 50 years of life, destroyed in only 8. My psychatrist at the time just wanted to add methadone! Just another drug see if it helps! Off 18 months now, trying to regain my self esteem. The wonderful thing, even though still struggling crippling withdrawals, is my brain, so crystal clear, I can see everything now ……………………….. I am so sorry Debbie………………

  79. anonymous comment received

    Thanks for your story, I definitely relate along with everyone else who commented. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. I developed a problem with drugs and drinking in my late teens and into early adulthood while I was on Paxil. I ended up in a long-term treatment program at 21, where I got off Paxil too. I was completely clean and sober for nearly 5 years, until the point I got on Paxil again to combat my persistent depression/anxiety. Within a month, I noticed an intense thirst for alcohol. I drank not long after and continuously drank nearly every night for the next 7 months. Luckily, I had discovered this article by then and decided to wean off Paxil as a last ditch effort before accepting my alcoholism.

    Lo and behold, the cravings diminished more and more as the dose got lower. Here I am 6 months free from Paxil, drinking only 3-5 beers a week, typically at dinner with friends and such (not at once either). It’s night and day. While my psychiatrist had nothing to say about this (haven’t been back since), my therapist thinks Paxil my have induced some type of mania since I experienced other impulsive behaviors coupled with periods of agitation and anger. Regardless, it did help my anxiety so I’ve been white knuckling my anxiety and depression since. It’s better than being an alcoholic but I’m still searching for a viable solution.

    Anyway, I just wanted to add my story and I’ve been doing the same on other threads. I just want to help spread awareness about this issue and to find a solution.

    • I tapered off all the antidepressants, cravings for alcohol went. I had to reinstate 12mg of seroquel, other medical issues (only drug I was on) and again, just even the seroquel, at 12mg, half a tablet, and I crave wine again.

      Psychiatrists ALWAYS blame the patient, ie stop drinking, they never say, oh dear, taper off the drugs. I now believe my chronic fatigue, and exhaustion (called depression?) is actually a B12 deficiency.

      I could only have investigated my ill health, off the damn psych meds. I have MTHFR defects, and mental health (post natal psychosis) now I know was caused because I had baby number 3 and took nitrous oxide ………. I am not the only one, that Nitrous Oxide has sent into a mental ward.

      Getting my brain back has been wonderful, now to sort out the exhaustion, and mental issues. I also just realised by root canal is horribly infected, a major health issue. Lets hope once that is fixed, no more autoimmune issues.

  80. I lived that life and that exact struggle . I am not one to advocate using medication for anxiety but in the anxiety that I’ve experienced from post SSRI withdrawal which I think is brain damage caused by the Paxil or any other SSRI I recommend an antihistamine called Hydroxazine . It works in the same receptors that the SSRIs fiddled with. It’s amazing but works! Another is CBD oil , marijuana oil that is . I use a high CBD to THC ratio because I cannot handle any effects of thc and most people with anxiety can’t . So use a strain like charlottes web or AC/DC . Something to consider , it works for me

    • Hi Mark, I found the high CBD to be helpful also. If you are off the SSRIs etc, never stop looking for another reason that might be causing the anxiety, etc. I am finally sorting my health issues (all physical, ie infections, etc) that were the real problem to start with. good luck, and I recommend that anyone wishing to try anything, start low, and ONLY do one trial at a time. I tried taking too many supplements, and it was a disaster.

  81. I noticed almost immediately after beginning Effexor that I suddenly had cravings for alcohol. At my 1 month check-up after starting Effexor I told my doctor that my relationship to alcohol had changed dramatically and that I was craving alcohol. He said it was not possible that it was a side effect of the drug, and basically blamed me. 3 years later I finally found a doctor who believes me, and I am getting off Effexor now. Lesson learned: trust yourself. I knew the Effexor had caused the cravings, but allowed “professionals” to convince me otherwise. Never again.

  82. Well I lost my appeal to clear my name but I then came across this Zoloft Prosecutors Manuel afterwards.


    Unless there is proper Scientific research into SSRIS we do not stand any chance of fighting our cases. They have already prepared a manual to fight us back in court and most of us are/were unaware of it.

    Talk about had hook, line and sinker. I feel like such a fool for 1.Trusting Dr’s 2. Taking the tablets in the first place 3. Trusting our regulators and Drug Company’s 4. Having any trust in the courts. In fact the whole system is well and truly against us and there is almost nothing we can do about it.

    Advise: Do not take SSRIS (or any psychiatric drugs) full stop! because no one will help you if and when it goes wrong!

  83. Read this to see the damage criminal convictions can have on your whole life. This person was not on an SSRI but I wanted to show the effect a criminal record can have on your whole life, like it has done to me and many other’s affected by SSRIS and intense alcohol cravings. Hopefully you will not have something more serious happen to you under this combination but for this reason alone it should be enough warning to consider getting off an SSRI antidepressant if it is causing you a drinking problem with blackouts and out of character behavioural problems.


  84. but the people around me just don’t get it. I am on venflaxin now as the setratline didn’t work. Yes I drink and my family think I’m acoholic maybe I am, but I truly don’t care anymore. They don’t want to know me now due to some stupid misunderstanding where I did nothing wrong except defend someone. Must be because i’m fked up, right – that’s how they make me feel. I have depression & anxiety and I can’t ‘do’ family occassions so all of those ‘normal people’ out there have no idea what it’s like. Shame on you I say, because you know what? If that was me, you sit down next to me and I will at least listen to you. As a family member and because I love you I would offer to come and see you, but they don’t. fk the world and everything that is in it.

  85. I was on Effexor for 10 years. Lost 10 years of my life to that drug and alcohol. When I decided to take myself off the drug because I no longer had any emotions. I no longer craved alcohol and now I can have those one or two drinks.

  86. I have goosebumps reading all these comments ranging over several YEARS. Years of people trying to figure out what the f*** just happened to their lives. I always loved drinking but it had never been problematic. Once I got on Effexor (for post-partum anxiety)…. I started NEEEEDING alcohol. Badly. I was hiding booze, getting cash-back at the grocery store so I could buy alcohol without my husband seeing the purchase on our account, and eventually drinking IN THE MORNING. I had one failed attempt at sobriety – after about 3 weeks I relapsed, completely blacked out for 2 days, did almost irreparable emotional damage to my family, and ended up in a 72-hour-hold in a psychiatric hospital. I had also forgotten to take my Effexor both days. I used that godawful psych hold to go cold-turkey off the Effexor and it was freaking TORTURE. TORTURE. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, I was shaking, having brain zaps, sweating profusely, and a constant state of “I’m about to die” anxiety. It took a couple weeks to feel back to normal.

    Now I literally don’t even think about booze. Unless I’m cooking spaghetti sauce bc wine and making pasta sauce really go nicely together 😉 Otherwise I could take it or leave it. Even when I’m feeling emotional trauma that would have in the past led me to binge drink. I’ve had my HARDEST days dead sober now, without much of a problem. I thought I was self-medicating my anxiety but I feel now that I was just self-medicating the extreme chemical reaction to being on a POTENT and DANGEROUS snri.

    Also – I talked to FOUR psychiatrists in the hospital. They were each shocked that someone with extreme anxiety would be prescribed a high dose of a medication that skyrockets your adrenaline. SHUDDER. Please please please, if anyone stumbles across this, don’t “give Effexor a chance to work.” RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

    • I too was an Effexor girl, trying to get off that? Ended up on more, but at least off the Effexor, two years later, another stumbling try to get off of the new crap. I am now two years down the track, and still suffering the brain damage from all these psych meds. The horrific chronic fatigue, the inability to fall asleep and wake up peacefully. Now find out my only problem was MTHFR genetics, and no B vitamins, no real folic acid.

      I think it is too late for me to ever fully recover, but the damage the drinking did, due to that damn Effexor……….. all got blamed on the wine, never the damn drugs.

      So psychiatrists not only stuff your emotions and brain, they make sure you lose the respect of your loved ones.

      • YES! MTHFR is hugely undiagnosed. And doctors mistakenly try to treat it with simple folic acid, which does NOT help, you need L-Methylfolate sourced from high-quality supplements or ideally from food. I’m so sorry to hear another person with all this wreckage due to Effexor <3

    • I’ve had exactly the same thing, been on venlafaxine for about 6 years. Before this awful drug I could have a few drinks and that was it. Once I was put on citalopram and then venlafaxine I found myself drinking more and was having the afore mentioned blackouts. It’s affected my relationships with my partner, family and friends. One drink and that’s it, I’m drinking until I go to bed.
      I showed this to my GP and luckily she is supporting me 100% and I asked to be put onto Mirtazapine after a couple of failed attempts to wean off venlafaxine. I’m currently signed off work for 6 weeks and using this time to switch melds and then after some time wean off Mirtazapine as its easier to wean off of. I can honestly say this has been the worst period of my life and people must think I’m crazy when I say my medication causes alcohol cravings but I’m determined to come off meds all together and seek a more natural alternative.
      I know my doctor was only trying to help by putting me on this but I wish they’d offer more natural alternatives before putting someone on mind altering drugs!

  87. I’m going to say this once.
    I’ve struggled with this stuff for many years.
    I’m a tech head so research is second nature.
    if you research enough, especially the later findings in medical journals, you will find that ssris not only modify the serotonin reuptake, but also dopamine.
    so for some of us, being starved for dopamine, if not sedated enough, guess what alcohol does…
    So the key is to find a reliable dopamine up regulator, apart from alcohol. I don’t have a. full answer yet.
    ssri gave me parkinson like effects which went away with alcohol.

  88. I am trying to start a forum for SSRI induced alcoholism, violence and behaviours and for people and for people who ended up in the criminal justice system because of it. So if you would like to join for/or support and help others then feel free to come and register. Your all very welcome.


  89. Great work Anne-Marie !
    I’ve also discovered a very the same think some time ago..
    when I was on 30mg Citalopram,
    I’ve also made my research back then,
    had no idea there was so many people affected the same way as I’m.
    Before I’ve meet SSRI I’ve meet my ex-girlfriend. Often was wondering how come she drinks a bottle of wine every night and feels ok. The answer is: Venlafaxina

    In fact I’m an alcoholic and a child of alcoholics, so the risk of triggered cravings is high,
    but before the treatment, I’ve had no idea that there was such risk, in fact I was hoping it was about to reduce my drinking as drinking was induced by depression and in reverse.
    So instead of being depressed drunk, I became a careless more drunk..
    Before I started with Citalopram, I was drinking, but less, and I was able to stop at least for a week, which later was impossible on Cita.
    Drinking felt so good! And since my emotional life was flatted down, I didn’t care.
    So I’ve been drinking every night for about two years now..
    About 4 months ago I started tapering down citalopram slowly, I went off for 5 days , and I would make it but my work was about to start few days later, so I came back on 5mg (almost placebo) and this is where I am.
    Well, at least now I can stop drinking even for a week, but I’m struggling with cravings and withdrawals, relapse to relapse circle.. this isn’t citalopram, this is alcoholism,
    but citalopram made me drink almost every day for a year, it has boost my alcohol dependence, no doubt on that. I’m sober again, only past two days,
    I’ll also get rid of those 5mg out of my diet.
    I’ve came across with Mirtazapine. I tried it last time for alc withdrawal,
    I’ve slept well, next day couldn’t do much, but no cravings, no anxiety, no alcohol related thoughts..

    I don’t trust doctors at all, so happens, most of them have no idea about psycho-pharmacology and neuroscience. Only med users may talk to me about meds.

    Hope you are all good. Take care

  90. I’m sure my cravings and growing dependency for alcohol was due to Cymbalta.

    I’m currently tapering off it and suddenly I’m not interested in drinking myself to oblivion each day. I’m not waking up already thinking about when I can have my first drink, when which was getting earlier and earlier each day.

    I didn’t realize it was the Cymbalta until I started halving the 30mg tablet about a week ago.

  91. I’ll try and keep this short, it’s 2018 and I’m the last comment. So don’t know if anyone will see it.

    I started Venlafaxine (Effexor US) in June 2013 and stopped taking it September 2014.

    During that year I left my previously good marriage, moved my children 100 miles from their home. Blew 20,000 in the space of 8 weeks, almost lost my children to social services and attempted to commit suicide 4 times. And, drank a litre bottle of vodka just about EVERY night. I stopped drinking a few weeks after stopping venlafaxine. No cravings to drink. Just didn’t want it. Before that, I was a social drinker; but not much of one. Maybe had a few drinks every few months. Ruined my life. HATE that drug. Now I’m supposedly bipolar, but haven’t been manic or drunk alcohol in 4 years….

  92. I just came across this article today. I’ve felt like I was losing my mind. I have been on celexa for 18 months. Before that I was a social drinker. Sometimes I would have too many glasses of wine and be hungover the next day. Nothing crazy. Since taking the celexa I’m not hungover but crazed thr next day. I just want more and lots more. Anything I can get my hands on to thr point we don’t keep alcohol in thr house. So I’ll sneak and get it. It’s like I’m posessed, euphoric and generally not in my right mind. I’ve been so scared of thr changes in my behavior. I’ve been on too many binges to count, generally about one a month. I am so ashamed of myself and so upset about how I’ve hurt my family. I promise that I won’t do it again but I can never keep that promise because of a compulsion to drink. Sometimes, I have a few glasses of wine and it’s like a light switch goes out. I completely black out and can not be woken up. To the point my husband sent me to thr ER. I feel like I’ve been living a nightmare. I’ve never made the connection and couldn’t understand how I could become an alcoholic overnight. This has been such a drastic change for me and I’m relieved that I have an answer but I can never undo the damage I have done. There are other embarrassing stories I can’t bear to share.

  93. I’ve been taking sertraline 50mg over 18 months. I’ve always been a social drinker and have had some moments of regretting drinking too much the night before but since I’ve been on this medication I am craving alcohol, especially red wine. It’s now lunch time and I could actually drink a glass now.
    I’ve a husband, 3 grown up children and a grandson. A beautiful home. Me and my husband have had a rocky marriage but we’ve worked through a lot of problems and issues and are still together after 23 years of marriage.
    Last year things cropped up in my life and I went to my gp as I didn’t want to wake up on a morning. This is when I was put on sertraline.
    Since I’ve been on these meds I crave alcohol. Mainly wine. My husband, daughter and son who still live at home have noticed that I’m drinking a lot more. I used to share a bottle of wine with my husband around once a week. Now I crave alcohol every night. It’s really hard to resist not having any.
    I see someone on tv drinking wine and I crave wine. Just talking about it and I’m craving a glass.
    I used to have a few glasses and the tipsy feeling would kick in which would make me realise I’d had too much. The following morning I would feel grotty and hungover. Now, since I’ve been on these meds and been drinking I don’t get the tipsy feeling. It goes from having one glass and feeling ok to a couple of glasses later and I’m completely gone. Saying things I don’t remember. Saying things I don’t mean or that aren’t true. The feeling of being tipsy, that feeling of getting drunk between the first glass and the last glass isn’t there like I used to get. It goes from feeling sober to being completely intoxicated with very little or no recollection of what I’ve done or said. I’ve been barred from a pub because of collapsing and vomiting all over the pub floor. This is me in my mid 40’s getting barred from a pub. I’ve been going out to pubs since I was in my late teens right up to present and I’ve never been as bad as this. I honestly do think it’s the antidepressants. The craving alcohol, blanking things out, not remembering the state I was in, not recognising my cut off point when I’ve been drinking.

  94. Our family Dr. put my husband on Paxil about 5 years ago. I immediately started noticing changes in his behavior. He was acting really weird and out of the norm. He got fired from his 27 year job for abnormal behavior that he never had before. Prior to the medicine, he was a great employee and had good reviews every year. Since then, he has developed an incredible craving for alcohol. It’s so bad that he cannot work. He has been to the ER twice for the alcohol affecting his blood pressure and making him pass out and also for his sugar level going down to 33. Both times, we were told that it was life threatening. He has been to rehab 3 times and that has not helped. He gets home and just starts drinking again. It has been awful dealing with this. We have been married for 38 years and I have never had to deal with anything like this before. He see’s a psychiatrist and I am hoping that she will diagnose him with something so that we can start treating him for this bizarre behavior. I came across this article and I believe that all of this is from the Paxil he was put on 5 years ago. That is exactly when all of the trouble started. This morning, we started the process of weaning him off. And, it is my greatest hope that his alcohol cravings will go away and also the odd behavior. I will provide an update to this in a few months after he is off and hopefully back to his old self. This has been devastating to our family.

    • Hi Anne. Please be careful. Such s fast wean off the Paxil”in a few months” is not a good idea. Plan on a taper that may even take longer than two years.

  95. Thanks Angela, he is now totally off and doing well. He still drinks but not like he did and he is working again. I do believe it will take up to 2 years to get this totally out of his system.

  96. Add me to this list. I was taking a high dose of Effexor and under regular care of my Dr.

    Cravings, binge drinking, blackouts, driving blacked out, no recollection of many nights, 48 hours in solitary, DUI, lost job, lost family. I will tell no one of the connection between Effexor and the cravings, I’m now the fat, lazy, selfish alcoholic that is too selfish to fix myself.

    I stopped my Effexor doses five days ago and I’m getting through that withdrawal, but as I sit here, I have had about 10 oz of wine. There is more chilling. Normally I’d have that half gone. Not tonight, but I’ve accepted my brand as family loser

  97. The main goal is to not do both. It states on the drug interaction sheet no alcohol or to limit alcohol intake and there is a reason for that. My husband could not even function in life when he was on his antidepressant. I knew it was too hard to get rid of the drinking so I decided we would start with the antidepressant. It was easy to wean him off and I can tell a huge difference. He still has a drinking problem but he is back to work and functioning around the house. Not falling anymore and not weird, bizarre behavior. I am convinced it was the combination.

  98. There is a strong correlation between SSRI use (Seroxat in my case) and Alcohol abuse resultantly. I can attest to that.

    I was on Anti-depressants for 15 years of my life and have been off them for the past 6-7 months now. I was taking 20mg of Seroxat per day for 14 years, switching from Effexor and Cipralex.

    I had my first drink of alcohol ever at the age of 26. My tolerance level was low and the few times I consumed 1/4 to 1/3 bottle of hard liquor cocktails were the most excruciating nights of my life. Drinking on weekdays would never cross my mind. I never appreciated the sour taste of alcohol and thought of it more as a social ritual than a pleasure.

    After starting anti-depressants at the age of 36, alcohol started becoming a daily fixture in my life in ever increasing amounts with no off switch. What started with nightly glasses of wine turned into half a bottle, full bottles, then eventually into harder Liquor until I reached 3/4 to a full bottle of Vodka a night within 5 years. I continued with this nightly for 10 years straight.

    There is no need to warn anyone here what that will do to all aspects of your life and I was forced to put a stop to it because my internal organs could no longer take it.

    In thinking about what drove me to drink and analysing the reason I felt compelled to, I correlated it to an “alien” sense of internal physical restlessness that would frequently make me curl up my toes. Drinking would appease this sensation and mellow me out.

    I attributed this ‘alien’ sense of restlessness to the anti-depressants and research on the internet echoed my suspicion about it and alcohol consumption. I decided to slowly taper off my medication over a two month period and have been completely off Seroxat for 5-6 month now.

    I have zero need for alcohol and that internal restlessness that fed it is gone.

    The best analogy I can make is to a line of Cocaine. SSRI’s, over the long term, start acting similarly. You start feeling better, more energetic, restless and that one drink won’t budge you. Then it becomes two and three.

  99. I read this article while researching, and to explain what was happening to me. I am an alcoholic, a problem drinker for many years, however, I had been sober for 33 months before starting Lexapro (escitalopram 10mg daily). I had been through many life stresses and had not turned back to alcohol. In fact, my cravings were gone. Completely. I had 2 back surgeries, marital and financial issues, death of a friend, and other life complications, yet had not turned back to alcohol. Until I began taking Lexapro.

    In less than a week, I found myself drinking heavily, wondering what happened. I stopped Lexapro, and got sober very quickly. I began taking the Lexapro again, and found myself drunk in 4 days, and for several days. I stopped, got sober very quickly, started Lexapro again, and was drunk again in 4 days. It was yet another binge. The only thing that had changed in my life was Lexapro, so I became convinced that it was the SSRI causing intense cravings that pushed me over the edge. I stopped taking Lexapro, and did not start taking it again. My cravings are completely gone.

    I feel very lucky that it didn’t kickstart the alcoholic side of me to begin craving when I was not taking Lexapro. I actually find it very interesting that it did not, given my 20 year history with alcohol starting from a young age. I have not gone back to an SSRI. I am back where I started from before Lexapro. living a fairly normal, mostly healthy, yet very depressed existence, but I am doing it sober (thank God).

    I don’t know if it’s worth testing other drugs in conjunction with an SSRI. If it could compromise the sober life I’ve been working hard at building for years, and tear it down in a few days, then what’s the point? I had talked to the prescribing doctor, and he basically said “well, you’re an alcoholic, it’s not the pills, it’s your genetic predisposition to alcohol and your history with it”.

    With my experience, as well as reading other people’s experiences, I do believe SSRI induced craving is a commonly under-diagnosed issue, especially among people who are already alcoholics. I’ve seen so many people struggle, really fighting to get sober – which is already a hard battle. I’ve seen many of them try and fail and try again and again only to die trying. I now wonder how much of a role the medications were playing in keeping them sick and stuck, unable to move forward in their sobriety.

    The author states that they had no warning in the UK. I am in the USA and had no warning. No one (personal or professional) that I’ve ever talked with about antidepressants has ever stated that it may cause or increase cravings. There is very little awareness about this issue, even in the US medical field.

    Thank you for taking the time to post this article on the internet, and I also want to thank those that have replied. Reading your stories helped me to figure out my own experience. I believe this should be brought to people’s attention. It could save lives. It’s amazing how little awareness there is about it.

  100. Hi, Im 32, a mummy and from Australia.
    I can’t believe I’ve just stumbled across this article! This has blown my head off!
    I’ve always been a bit of a party girl and loved a drink but when I fell pregnant, I did A straighty-180. After a traumatic labour and birth, i got postnatal depression and was put on 150mg it Zoloft (Sertraline). Instantly I became a full blown alcoholic with the blackouts and lack of control, which is scary with a baby, but I couldn’t stop! In the last week I have gone off my meds cold turkey (not advised) and have stopped craving alcohol and stopped drinking, bang, I can’t believe My drinking problem/craving has instantly stopped the minute I stoped the meds. Although I currently feel like shit from the brain zaps, dizziness, nausea and numbness from the withdrawals of the meds, I feel empowered and in control of my life again and stopped feeling guilty about being a loser drunk mum.
    Thank you so much for writing this article! Reading this is the confirmation I needed.
    Wishing everyone strength, love and peace xx

  101. Ive been on Sertraline for almost a year and half. Given i have no been consistent with taking it… but recently i have noticed that when i do take it. I CRAVE JAMESON next thing i know im down a bottle and driving to the liquor store for another. I have no memory of making plans with ppl i call on the phone. i have no memory cleaning all the things i clean too. It makes me feel even worse and the next day or so when im back to normal i tell myself i wont drink but ….. i cant help the craving. I cant stop myself. I secretly even have a few before work sometimes….WOW this makes so much more sense.

  102. Hello,

    Thank you to all who have posted their experiences. I am now sitting here re-evaluating my own experience with SSRI’s and the abuse of alcohol. I do wonder what role Citalopram (Celexa) played in my own 5 year journey down a black hole of alcohol abuse, blackouts, memory loss, etc. While some of the above experiences have similarities to my own, there are other things that are quite different. And so I would love to know if anyone has any insight for me.

    The key differences I see are that I did not begin excessive drinking immediately after starting Citalopram. I forget how long I was on it exactly before the alcohol abuse began but I would say about a year or so. After that, I experienced a series of losses (a break-up, death of a friend, and death of my father) and began drinking heavily. I will say that I am someone who always enjoyed a drink. And while I might drink to excess in an evening of fun, it was not a daily occurrence and never resulted in blackouts or inappropriate behaviour. During the 5 years of drinking while taking Citalopram I drank most days of the week, I binge-drank, I blacked out all the time, fell off my stool at the pub, fell down a lot, made questionable choices, went to ER twice for abrasions on my face, and broke my ankle one night. I experienced weight gain and memory loss, although I think those are natural side effects of drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

    I have now been sober for five years but continue to take medication. This is also different from what people are describing here. After getting sober, I switched the Citalopram (I thought I had “burnt out” on it) to Sertraline briefly, then Escitalopram, and now take Duloxetine ( Cymbalta) after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

    Part of me thinks that I was the problem, and that’s that. But part of me wonders what part Celexa played? I am not drinking now. So does this speak to the SSRI not being part of my problem? Or am I stronger than I think, and have beat the drinking odds despite still taking an SNRI?

    I also noted that the only other time I took an SSRI (Paxil) about 20 years ago, I was on it very briefly and one night drank a bunch of tequila and decided to take the bottle of Paxil. I had my stomach pumped. I didn’t even want to commit suicide. Anyhow, just something that I noted when reflecting after reading all of your posts.

    The answer to my question most likely lies somewhere in the middle; my wiring, my grief, AND the Celexa all together probably combined to lead me to alcohol abuse during that dark time. I only stopped because the last time I drank I was outside my apartment and someone called the paramedics, police and fire department. Apparently, they all came and stood over me and spoke with me and I don’t remember any of it to this day. I woke up a few hours later and remembered none of it.

    The last thing that I will say is that it is scary how little doctors still know about anti-depressants. How little all of us really know! When I first went on Citalopram it changed my life for the better (my PMDD and anxiety were “cured”). I always just thought that drinking while taking it was stupid because alcohol is a depressant, but I had no idea that it could maybe be causing me to drink MORE. I have worked in medical education for 9 years and been on an SSRI for longer, and only two months ago had a physician mention “disinhibition” being a problem with anti-depressants. I googled that yesterday which led me here. I had never heard this before.

    Strength and health to all.
    Thanks again!

  103. Im having serious problems at the moment. Been diognosed with OCD and Post Natal *although clinical) depression. 60mg Fluoxetine. Two nights ago I ended up in A&E after blacking out completely, climbing and falling off 9/10ft fences causing a lot of injuries and damage to my neighbours gardens. Ever since I stopped breast feeding my son (hes now 1 ) I’ve had the urge to binge drink, yet my memory fails when I try to recall anything that happened, I hadn’t drank “that much” a bottle of wine is wll i remember, this sucks and its really having an effect on my life. Ive tried a few times (while b.f) to change my meds as its only at 60mg do my intrusive thoughts and other manic moments quietn down, but the drink is always what i turn to come rain or shine. I don’t feel like me anymore

  104. my life has been destroyed by Citalopram and my story is almost identical i also discovered that my underlying condition was Adult ADD which citalopram is not fit to service this condition. These drugs are horrendous and life destroying its even more appalling at the lack of support or even acknowledgment by drs and our goverment that they have created a society of people who turn to drinks and drugs as a dependency reaction to the tablets that are ment to be helping us its a bad bad bad world we live in

  105. This story is extremely similar to mine except it took me 14 years to realize that Paxil is causing my alcoholism. I am now off of Paxil completely and I cannot believe that I don’t even want alcohol at all. I literally went from severe cravings unable to stop drinking and arrested multiple times from my behavior while drinking losing my kids and the respect in a lot of my family and friends. Things I said and did I never would have said or did. Paxil ruined my life. Now every day I have to live and deal with the shame I have caused myself and my family.

    • After the extreme damage this medication caused to my life I want to be yet another person to attempt to sue for the extreme alcoholism I had with this drug for 14 years! I literally just realized this all yesterday and I’m so distraught. Can anyone on here please tell me a lawyer they may have tried in Connecticut? Thanks.

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