Citation: Jago. "A Tale of Just One Man: An Experience with Venlafaxine (Effexor), Cannabis, Alcohol & Tobacco - Cigarettes (exp51618)". Erowid.org. Aug 16, 2006. erowid.org/exp/51618
My very first drug (taken for something other than relieving a headache or travel sickness) was alcohol. I had my first taste at age 15 when my father took me on a camping trip. I used to love these trips and they still ring in my head as my best life experiences. The sun would look so bright and a crisp blue sky would make me pause and appreciate its simple beauty. I can remember my father in his former youth partying 'till dawn and howling at the moon with me.
My REAL friends, or so it seemed then, were in their thirties or forties and drinking with them seemed a natural phase in becoming a man, and more importantly then, having fun. My real life did not provide much fun. I could go into details about abuse at school, divorced parents, and other cliche moments, but this story is about the drugs.
Fast forward about 3 years. I started smoking cigarettes in my senior year of high school. My mindset then was that I didn't really care about what would happen to me if I smoked. All the stuff that my parents and school had taught me meant nothing because really... I just didn't care. (I would later realize that I was depressed). Another 9 years pass. The alcohol and cigarettes continue. The alcohol peaked during and after high school when we all feel young and invincible. At the age of 27 I was stabilized with alcohol at 18-24 'light' (around 4% alc/vol) beers every weekend and nothing during the week. I was smoking about a pack per week of cigarettes (not bad for almost 10 years of smoking).
I was living my life, but that's about it. I could not sleep properly due to frequent bouts of insomnia usually lasting a few days at a time. I was suffering from major depression (the sun looked as if I was always wearing sunglasses and the blue sky seemed always gray.) and I had a nearly uncontrollable rage. I wasn't at the point of hurting other people (myself... yes for sure) but I was swearing at my job in front of customers, punching walls, throwing things, etc. I knew I needed to fix things before I lost my job.
At age 28 I started smoking weed. I had taken the cannabis route in earlier years and it had always made me sick, but 28 seemed to be the magic age. The weed took care of the insomnia problems, and gave me something to look forward to at the end of the day. This was all good for a while, but life was still basically shit. Depression owned most of my thoughts and the rage was unaffected by the weed or any other drug I was taking. If anything, the weed was making the depression worse. I finally went to see a doctor after constant hounding from my girlfriend.
I don't 'DO' the whole doctor thing, so this was a fairly new experience for me. I waited 30 minutes after my appointment for my doctor who basically spent five minutes with me and gave me a prescription. I had compiled a list of symptoms and written them down on a piece of paper for my appointment. I didn't even get a chance to address the list with the doctor. He could see that I was stressed and depressed. My BP was 180 over 120 and he seemed to ignore my mention of occasional cardiac arrhythmia. My doctor said it could be a side effect of my alcohol consumption and advised me to cut down or avoid alcohol. He said nothing about tobacco or cannabis. He prescribed Effexor (XR) at 37.5 mg/day with a sample pack that had 7-37.5mg pills and 7-75-mg pills. I could almost hear his wallet expand with drug rep kickback dollars. I was told to take the 37.5's for one week and see him again.
Day 1 - Monday - I took the pill and I actually felt excited about what was going to happen. I figured this would solve my problems and make the sun bright and the sky blue again. No discernible effect though. No alcohol on this day.
Days 2-4 - Taking the Effexor as prescribed I felt only what I would describe as a placebo effect. I thought I was supposed to start feeling better so I did, a little little bit.
Day 5 - Friday! - The weekend has come. I have been taking the Effexor as directed, but tonight I smoke about 2/3 of a joint as well. No unusual reaction at all.
Day 6 - Saturday - I go to a friends house and he has beer. A LOT of beer, so I start drinking. After beer number 4 I suddenly feel very overheated. I start to sweat and shake a bit. I excuse myself to the washroom and then as I close the door behind me I begin to feel really sick (like I used to back in the day when I would get way too drunk or high). I puke instantly and then hang in the washroom for about ten minutes to puke twice more. After the last barf session I feel remarkably good! I return to the livingroom with my friends who are concerned and I tell them that I might have just had a reaction from alcohol and my 'meds' (effexor) and I feel fine. I DID feel fine. I felt GREAT! I was so pleasantly buzzed and relaxed then. It was a good night.
Day 8 - Monday - Back to the doctor I go. He asks me how I am feeling and he seems more pleasant this time (maybe now he likes me more now, now that I am a monetary contributor to his favorite drug company) and this time my BP is at 160 over 100. (I'm still not sure what normal BP should be... maybe I need a different doctor.) He raises my daily dose to 75mg/day and sends me on my merry way for 2 more weeks.
Day 10 - Wednesday - At 487.5 mg total consumption I actually start to feel a real effect from the Effexor. I experience drowsiness, but in a nice tingly way. This is the type of drowsiness I feel when I wake up after a good nights sleep in a comfortable bed. I could easily deal with this side effect since it was the only one I was feeling. I also noticed that I was much less prone to road rage and daily annoyances. I had not consciously evaluated my depression at this time.
Day 11 - Thursday - Is this the cure? The switch to 75mg/day seemed to be working. I saw the sky again and I felt a weird sensation almost like I was a kid again when I was driving to work. The brief sunlight (I live on the west coast so rain is prevalent) was as bright as I remember summer vacation from high school being. I began to reminisce about my youth, but ONLY the good things. My attitude was so positive that I felt almost, but not quite, 'giddy' most of the time.
Day 12 - Friday - Party on. I smoked about 3 joints (maybe a gram and a half) of weed and drank 11 beers. I felt great! I was so high and drunk and happy. I began to praise the effects of the Effexor (even though I knew it was the party drugs that gave me the real high) The rest of the weekend (including Sunday) was pretty much the same.
Day 15 - Monday - I am at work and I actually am enjoying being there, but... the annoyances hit me just as hard as they used to. I find this odd. I revert back to my old 'self' and bang my head on my office door and go on a ridiculous diatribe about difficult customers. The major difference is that I am able to recognize the foolishness of my actions and stop them immediately.
Day 19 - Friday - No more work incidents. In fact, I feel that I have more control over my emotions than ever before. I still feel the rage though.
Day 22 - Monday - I faithfully return to my doctor for another 5 minute session. I mention (and this is the first time since I started taking the Effexor that I actually analyzed it) that my depression has greatly subsided, but my anxiety and rage is still very much present. The good 'ol doc ups me to 150mg/day Effexor, and prescribes me Ativan. After this I am told to come back in one month. This both excites me (new drugs? Good times?) and confuses me because I don't really know what Ativan is. Regardless, I go fill my prescription and the pharmacist recommends trying the Ativan tonight before bed to see how it will effect me. I think the pharmacist was more concerned about me than my doctor was. I took an Ativan and it did not seem to do anything at all. Boring...
Day 23 - Tuesday - Where did that carton go? I am beginning to realize that my consumption levels have raised significantly. I analyze my consumption and discover that my smoking has doubled (at least) and I want to smoke weed and drink every night. This is a new experience for me and I begin to worry. I don't contact my doctor because I am afraid he will cut me off the effexor or criticize me in some way. (remember, doctors are a NEW thing for me)
Day 26 - Friday - Several packs (3?... 4?... I'm not even sure) and many beers and joints later... so begins and subsequently ends another weekend. Not as fun as last weekend though...
Days 27-35- Consumption mania! I lose count of how much alcohol/tobacco/weed I consume, but in the back of my mind I think it must be at least triple my normal consumption by now. Odd...
Day 36 - Monday - Back at work, but I can't stop smoking. I used to not smoke at all during the work day and now I am starting to count and consciously cut down my smoking. Because I am no longer feeling depressed I am able to care about my self enough to work on this new problem and it doesn't seem too bad.
Day 37-42 - Still consuming. I carry on with my trend of drinking and smoking (weed and tobacco) as much as I can get my hands on. I must stop using the weekend as an excuse to over-indulge.
Day 43 - Monday - I am still feeling the rage and the anxiety, although the anxiety is less and the depression is virtually gone. I haven't even pondered suicide in a very long time and I smile a LOT more now. The Ativan is still pretty much useless. What is it supposed to do?
Day 44 - Tuesday - I smoke more weed (1/4 gram) but I consciously stop myself from drinking, and it is REALLY easy! I even cut my smoking down a bit.
Day 45 - Wednesday - I do the same thing as yesterday... Smoke weed, same amount as yesterday and lie down to chill and watch some TV. I'm feeling really good and stoned... then it happens. My heart rate is quite high (maybe 120 or 130? I'm too high to count it properly) I continue to chill out and then one of my hands (I can't remember which one) clenches involuntarily! This totally freaks me out and raises my heart rate.
My girlfriend is sleeping next to me in the bed, but I am too embarrassed to ask her for help. Next, my leg twitches which is normal for me, but this time it feels like a violent spasm more than just a twitch. I am worried a lot now, but thankfully still high. After a few minutes of this I start to calm down and ride out my weed high. Everything seems good until my hand clenches again and then I realize that my heart must be at least closing on 200bpm now. I am totally relaxed and comfortable and I can't figure out why my heart and muscles are acting this way. I immediately think of seizures. This raises my heart rate even more!
In a last ditch attempt before calling 911 or dying or whatever, I take an Ativan. Thanks to my 'pay as you go, just as long as I get paid' doctor, I know the pills are supposed to do something with anxiety and I deduce that anxiety causes an accelerated heart rate. It's worth a shot. I dissolve one of those puppies under my tongue and lay back down. That did it, The twitching and clenching stopped immediately. My heart rate 'eventually' slowed and I was able to chill out and fall asleep.
Day 47 - Today - I write a report and submit it.
Alcohol : It can control me. To this day I think that alcohol is the number one dictating factor in my life as far as drugs go. I plan to quit or severely cut my alcohol consumption before mid-year.
Tobacco : It doesn't provide any real benefits as far as I can tell. Alcohol gets me drunk and allows me to enjoy things more, Tobacco is just an addiction with no high. I smoke to stave off withdrawal and that's it. So basically smoking degenerates my health, costs a lot of money, and offers no high in return. Waste of time and money!
Weed : So far so good. Except for some odd side effects as described earlier which I equate to combined use with Effexor, this drug is mostly benevolent.
Effexor (XR) : Overall, it is an improvement for me personally. I am more open emotionally, the sky is still blue, and depression is becoming just a memory. The biggest downside for me was the sudden jump in consumption. I don't know if it was because I was feeling better and wanted to have more fun, or if it is simply a side effect of the drug.
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