Effexor (generic name venlafaxine) is a “selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor” (SSNRI) that is commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders. With over 15 million prescriptions written in 2016, Effexor is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., although Ohio has one of the lowest rates of antidepressant use in the country.
Among antidepressants, Effexor is infamous for causing “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome” (ADS). ADS refers to the constellation of symptoms that are associated with antidepressant withdrawal. Although Effexor is not addictive, regular use causes chemical changes in the brain that lead to physical dependence. In order to prevent withdrawal symptoms, Effexor must be administered regularly. Even one missed dose of Effexor may be sufficient to elicit uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
For approximately 30% of people who regularly take Effexor, attempting to quit “cold turkey” can cause ADS. Commonly reported symptoms of Effexor ADS include electrical shock-like “brain zaps” that may be accompanied by a rapid, transient visual disturbance as well as tingling sensations in the hands or feet, vertigo, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety and upset stomach.
Interestingly, unlike many other drugs that cause dependence, the dose of Effexor does not predict who will experience ADS; someone who took high doses of Effexor for a long time may experience few symptoms while someone who took a low dose for a short amount of time may experience many symptoms.
The most reliable way to prevent ADS is to work with a medical professional who can develop a tapering regimen that suits your lifestyle before you stop taking Effexor. By gradually reducing the dose, your brain can adapt to the gradual reduction in Effexor rather than face an abrupt absence of a chemical that it has grown dependent on. There is no hard-and-fast rule that determines tapering schedules, but it is generally recommended that tapering be done over at least four weeks. Many people taper over eight or more weeks.
Addiction Treatment Options
Although Effexor is not addictive in the sense that some other drugs are, quitting can be profoundly uncomfortable, even debilitating. Tapering the dose or cross-tapering (gradually transitioning to an antidepressant like duloxetine that has similar pharmacodynamics but fewer ADS effects) can attenuate or eliminate ADS.
Behavioral therapies can be helpful for people experiencing Effexor withdrawal symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapies are particularly noteworthy for being able to help people successfully discontinue Effexor.
For people who are concerned about Effexor detox and ADS withdrawal symptoms, participating in a rehab program can provide a great deal of comfort and ease the detox and withdrawal process. There are a number of options that drug rehab centers offer:
- Medical detox: Because Effexor has a half-life of only about four hours, Effexor detox is over within about a day. However, the acute ADS withdrawal symptoms that begin to appear during detox can persist for far longer. Medical detox is a program where the detox period is carefully supervised by medical professionals who may be able to provide pharmacotherapies that can ease some of the discomfort associated with detox. Unfortunately, there are no reliable medications that stop Effexor ADS completely.
- Residential rehab: Residential rehab is a valuable tool for people who are experiencing severe ADS and who have been unable to reduce or eliminate Effexor consumption. Residential rehab is especially appropriate for people who are concerned about the recurrence of depression when they are no longer using Effexor. In residential rehab, clients have 24/7 access to medical professionals who can address questions or concerns as they arise and are experienced with helping people manage physical and psychological aspects of recovery, including finding the best approach to minimize depression. In addition, a great deal of attention is dedicated to improving mental health and wellbeing in residential rehab, which can be particularly helpful for people who have struggled with depression or anxiety in the past.
- Outpatient rehab: Some people with mild-to-moderate Effexor ADS may find that outpatient drug rehab gives them valuable tools that help them manage their withdrawal symptoms. Although less structured and intensive than residential programs, outpatient rehab provides clients with access to medical professionals and addiction specialists who understand how to help people overcome ADS. Outpatient programs can vary quite a bit, ranging from several hours per day to a few hours per week, but the goal is always directed towards providing each client with the most effective therapy to help them get off of Effexor with minimal side effects and without risking depression recurrence.
- Dual diagnosis: Most people who were prescribed Effexor were diagnosed with depression or anxiety (although some people take Effexor to manage chronic neuropathic pain), so the presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder is highly likely. However, finding a rehab facility with professionals who can evaluate the appropriateness of a dual diagnosis is highly recommended.
- Aftercare and sober living: For many people, depression is a lifelong disorder. Once someone stops using antidepressants, it is important for them to be proactive about maintaining relationships with therapists and other people who can help them recognize whether they are slipping back into a depressive state. Aftercare and continued behavioral therapy is a valuable tool for people who are managing depression without medication.
How Long Does Rehab Take?
Most cases of Effexor ADS resolve themselves within a matter of weeks. For people who elect to participate in structured rehab programs, they may spend only a few days in a residential treatment program, or they may find that they are more comfortable in a long-term program (weeks or even months). The best way to determine how long rehab will take is to undergo an evaluation with an addiction expert who is familiar with ADS.
How Much Does Effexor Rehab Cost?
Rehab costs are highly variable between facilities and between programs. Effexor rehab generally does not require medically supervised detox or long-term residential stays, so for many people the expenses will be limited to the initial evaluation, medical treatment (if necessary) and the cost of the rehab program they choose. It is important to factor in long-term aftercare, which should continue after the completion of Effexor rehab.
General estimates of costs associated with a 30-day rehab program are as follows:
- Residential rehab: The cost of a residential program depends partly on access to amenities. A basic residential program may cost less than $10,000, while a luxury program may cost well over $25,000.
- Outpatient rehab: Costs associated with outpatient programs vary quite a bit depending on the quality and type of therapies that are offered. Some facilities may offer free bare-bones outpatient care, while programs that offer cutting edge treatments like equine therapy can cost $10,000 or more.
- Other costs: There may be an admissions fee of several thousand dollars, and if medical detox is warranted, an additional $300 to $800 per day may be included in the bill.
Does Insurance Cover Rehab?
Many insurance plans (including Medicaid) will cover at least part of rehab. The Recovery Village Columbus is able to work with most insurance providers. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to find out if your insurance plan covers rehab.
There are ways to receive rehab without insurance. Many rehab centers offer grants or scholarships, and sliding fee scales allow some facilities to offer help to people from more than the top income brackets. Ohio provides some assistance for people who are looking for rehab but don’t have insurance.
Choosing a Rehab Facility for Effexor Misuse
There are a number of facilities in Ohio that offer drug rehab programs, but they can vary quite a bit in the quality of care and the therapies that are offered. When you are evaluating programs, look for medical professionals who have experience with ADS and co-occurring disorders.
The Recovery Village Columbus is a full-care rehab center with a multidisciplinary team of experts who are equipped to deal with all aspects of recovery, both physical and psychological. The staff help people manage ADS and Effexor withdrawal and can offer long-term solutions for people who are managing depression and anxiety without resorting to medication.
What to Expect When You go to Rehab
The first step that happens when you go to rehab is an initial evaluation. It is important to be honest about your current and past substance use and medical issues in order to receive the best treatment possible. Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient rehab, you will participate in individual and group therapy sessions. For Effexor rehab, these sessions will be geared toward providing you with a comprehensive understanding of why you were misusing Effexor and your motives for quitting, as well as making sure you are fully informed about what to expect as you progress into life without Effexor.
What Happens After Rehab?
Because Effexor is generally prescribed to manage mental health conditions, it is important to be proactive about your own mental wellbeing. After rehab, you should plan on regular sessions with a therapist who is experienced in helping people transition from life with antidepressants to life without them. Many people find that short-term antidepressant use helps get them through a difficult phase of their life and that long-term antidepressant use is unwarranted. However, especially in the first several months after you have stopped taking antidepressants, it is important that you regularly follow up on your progress with a mental healthcare professional.
How Rehab Improves Recovery
Rehab has been shown to be invaluable for many types of addiction. Although Effexor is not addictive, the dependence associated with regular use can make it difficult to quit. By participating in a rehab program that is experienced in helping people quit antidepressants, you can focus on recovery without worrying about whether you are progressing normally.
Key Points: Understanding Effexor Addiction Treatment and Rehab
Keep the following key points in mind when considering Effexor treatment and rehab:
- Although Effexor is not addictive in the traditional sense, regular use can cause the development of physical dependence that makes quitting difficult
- Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (ADS) is a real set of symptoms that often set in when antidepressant use is abruptly stopped
- The best way to avoid ADS symptoms is to work with a medical professional who can develop a tapering regimen that allows you to gradually reduce your dose over the course of several weeks
- Some people find that residential or outpatient rehab gives them the best opportunity to manage their recovery, both in terms of overcoming ADS and preparing for a healthy future without antidepressants
Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help address a substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.