Can You Use Weed If You Take Effexor?

venlafaxine capsules in box and weed

Table of contents

  1. What Is Effexor?
  2. Uses and How It Works
  3. Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Effexor
  4. What to Do If You Need to Use Both Effexor and Marijuana
  5. Why Mixing Cannabis with Effexor Can Help You Feel Better
  6. The Bottom Line
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Effexor (venlafaxine) and cannabis can potentially produce an unwanted reaction if you use them together.

Using the two together may increase adverse effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, impaired thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.

What Is Effexor?

Effexor is the brand name for the drug venlafaxine.

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant medication of the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) class. There is an extended-release version of Effexor called “Effexor XR.” Other brand names for venlafaxine include Vensir, Vencarm, and Venlablue.

Uses and How It Works

Effexor is an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and occasionally chronic pain.

Venlafaxine may also be prescribed off-label for migraine treatment and diabetic neuropathy.

We do not know precisely how antidepressants like venlafaxine work on depressive symptoms. From our understanding, venlafaxine acts on both serotonergic and adrenergic systems.

As such, venlafaxine is also used as a treatment to reduce episodes of cataplexy, a form of muscle weakness, in patients with the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

SNRIs like Effexor work by blocking the transporter “reuptake” proteins for key neurotransmitters affecting mood, thereby leaving more active neurotransmitters in the synapse.

In Effexor’s case, the affected neurotransmitters are serotonin and norepinephrine. In high doses, Effexor weakly inhibits the reuptake of dopamine. Venlafaxine also indirectly affects opioid receptors and the alpha 2-adrenergic receptor, which is why it may help manage chronic pain.

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Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Effexor

Although there may be some potential adverse interactions between cannabis and Effexor, some people may use medical marijuana to reduce or replace the intake of antidepressant prescription drugs.

Potential Benefits

  • Cannabis contains a plethora of stress-busting, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety compounds that could help reduce the need for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and SNRIs, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
  • Medical cannabis may help mitigate some side effects of antidepressant intake, including loss of appetite, insomnia, and headaches. Suddenly stopping venlafaxine may cause antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, which includes flu-like symptoms, nausea, and anxiety. Medical cannabis may help manage these symptoms as well.
  • More severe side effects of venlafaxine include an increased risk of suicide, mania, and serotonin syndrome. Cannabis on its own has far fewer severe side effects comparatively speaking.
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Potential Risks

  • Combining Effexor and cannabis may increase the chance of facing negative side effects, including nausea, sedation, dizziness, loss of balance, and fatigue.
  • Gradual dose reduction of Effexor is required to prevent antidepressant discontinuation syndrome and the chance of relapse.
  • Those with heart disease and/or hypertension should be particularly careful with combining cannabis and venlafaxine, as it could increase heart rate to undesirable levels.

What to Do If You Need to Use Both Effexor and Marijuana

Those who need to use both Effexor and medical marijuana may need to reduce their Effexor intake slowly over time.

This is to reduce the chances of negative side effects, whether minor or severe. It is best to do this under medical supervision, so speak to a doctor before trying to quit cold turkey yourself.

Why Mixing Cannabis with Effexor Can Help You Feel Better

Effexor can have several negative side effects, and many people may wish to reduce their intake or quit entirely. Appropriate medical cannabis use may help in this endeavor.

The Bottom Line

It’s wise to reduce antidepressant intake of any class using medical cannabis, whether SSRI, SNRI, a tricyclic antidepressant, or monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

Many people may feel few — if any — side effects if mixing cannabis with SNRIs like Effexor. Still, many others may suffer more side effects if combining prescription medication with marijuana use. Not everyone will react the same, so it is always best to consult your doctor and develop a proper intake reduction program before tapering antidepressants on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does weed affect dopamine?

Cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in particular, stimulates brain dopamine (DA) signaling in the nucleus accumbens, a mechanism believed to underlie the rewarding effects of drugs.

Regular use of THC-rich cannabis is associated with reduced dopamine in the striatum. “Resetting” dopamine levels could help reduce cannabis-induced anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure often due to depression).

Does weed affect serotonin?

Cannabis has a complex relationship with serotonin receptors.

At low doses, cannabis increases serotonin levels, and in higher doses, cannabis may cause serotonin depletion. THC and cannabidiol (CBD) may activate serotonin receptors and inhibit serotonin reuptake, which is one reason cannabis may help reduce or replace antidepressant intake. However, concurrent use of both may increase the likelihood of negative side effects, including more severe (but still rare) ones like serotonin syndrome.

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