Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine): Abuse & Addiction Risks

Last Updated: February 13, 2020

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

The Pristiq drug is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder. While most users understand the basics of desvenlafaxine, such as it being an anti-depressant, few understand the specifics. It is critical that anyone using it understands Pristiq medication, its benefits, and its risks.

Pristiq: Approval & Safety

Pristiq is a frequently prescribed antidepressant medication. Also known by its active ingredient, desvenlafaxine, it has been FDA approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder since 2008. While it has only one approved use, there are numerous off-label Pristiq uses.

Desvenlafaxine is considered safe when it is used properly. The correct Pristiq dosage can vary between patients and conditions treated. Patients should always abide by their doctor’s instructions. When it is taken according to directions, it can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, address chronic pain, and prevent hot flashes.

what is pristiq

Pristiq Generic And Brand Names

Pristiq is the original brand name of the drug desvenlafaxine. It was created by Wyeth, which has since merged with Pfizer, the current manufacturer of the drug. It is currently the only Pristiq manufacturer, though other versions of the medication are produced by other companies, such as Khedezla, made by Pernix Therapeutics.

Generic desvenlafaxine succinate ER is made by numerous pharmaceutical companies, including:


Pristiq Antidepressant Type

Desvenlafaxine medication is classified as an antidepressant. However, knowing that desvenlafaxine is an antidepressant is only half of understanding its drug class. It is also important to know what type of antidepressant it is.

The desvenlafaxine drug class is an SNRI antidepressant. Standing for serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, an SNRI medication increases feel-good chemicals in the brain by slowing the rate at which they are reabsorbed. Pristiq SNRI is considered to be safer than older generations of antidepressants, but how the body reacts to it varies between patients. Not everyone with depression will find that SNRI medications suit them.

how pristiq is controlled

Pristiq As A Controlled Substance

Users may wonder if desvenlafaxine is a controlled substance. The answer will depend on which definition of “controlled substance” is being used.

The term is used by the Drug Enforcement Agency in an official capacity, referring to drugs that are on the DEA drug schedule. In this case, a controlled substance is one that has a high potential for abuse when weighted against its therapeutic applications and has special restrictions placed on it. The medication desvenlafaxine is not considered to have a high abuse potential when compared to its benefits, and as a result, it is not a DEA controlled substance.

However, when the average person talks about controlled substances, what they typically mean is anything you need a prescription to access. Under this definition, desvenlafaxine is a controlled substance.

how Pristiq works and how long lasts

How Long Pristiq Stays In One’s System

Assuming someone is taking desvenlafaxine according to doctor’s orders, there should not be a lot of concern over how long it remains in the system. However, if someone needs to take a medication that interacts with it or is worried about potential drug testing if they are abusing the medicine, there might be a need to know.

The first thing to understand is Pristiq half-life. This comes in at 11 hours. However, this does not mean it is safe to take contraindicated substances after this time. How long one must wait will depend on the substance. For some, waiting a day is enough time, while others require users to wait weeks.

As for drug testing, antidepressants are not typically screened for. However, desvenlafaxine can cause a false-positive result for phencyclidine. As such, anyone taking desvenlafaxine and being tested for phencyclidine use should disclose this to the person administering the test.

reaching pristiq high

Can Pristiq Get You High

The desvenlafaxine drug is not known for producing a sense of euphoria when taken correctly. Even when consumed in large doses, it is not particularly common for the user to experience a notable high. However, there are those who claim it does exist.

Users who abuse desvenlafaxine report that the sensation it produces is one of extreme relaxation and lack of worries, similar to what can be achieved through using cannabis. However, chasing the desvenlafaxine high is dangerous. Doing so requires taking large doses of the medication, leaving the user vulnerable to experiencing an overdose.

Why users abuse desvenlafaxine varies. Sometimes, it is just a matter of curiosity, while for others, it can be a form of self-medication. No matter the motivation, abusing the drug is dangerous and must be avoided. 

Pristiq Abuse & Addiction

Ultimately, the abuse potential for desvenlafaxine is low, with most people being unable to get high from it even when they try. Still, Pristiq abuse does exist. If it continues for long enough, this can result in desvenlafaxine addiction.

Desvenlafaxine Interactions

Desvenlafaxine abuse and addiction can be made even more dangerous due to Pristiq interactions. In fact, these interactions can even make prescribed use risky. No one should take desvenlafaxine unless they have disclosed to their doctor all medications, supplements, and substances they are using. Patients who begin taking new medications should check with the prescribing doctor that they are safe with desvenlafaxine, as there are many known interactions.

pristiq and alcohol interaction

Pristiq And Alcohol

Taking desvenlafaxine with alcohol has the potential to increase the negative side effects of the medication, especially those that impact the central nervous system. This means that dizziness and drowsiness can increase, to the point that the user is impaired. It also has the potential to make it more difficult to concentrate or think through problems, putting the user at risk of being taken advantage of by others. Alcohol use should be eliminated when on desvenlafaxine.

Pristiq And Marijuana

Much like alcohol, marijuana is a CNS depressant. This means that the same side effects that come from combining desvenlafaxine and alcohol can occur when mixing cannabis and desvenlafaxine. These effects tend to be strongest when someone is newly taking desvenlafaxine. However, they can remain problematic throughout the time a person takes the medication.

Pristiq Drug Interactions

Due to interactions, it may not be possible to take desvenlafaxine and another medication that a person needs. This means weighing options, such as Pristiq vs. Effexor and selecting the best choice between the two. Users can consider everything from the side effects of the medicines to the cost of Pristiq when determining which is best for them.

Recovering From Pristiq Misuse and Addiction

If someone has abused desvenlafaxine or is addicted to the medication, help is needed. Drug rehab centers understand the unique aspects of antidepressant addiction and can help users end their dependence while still caring for their mental health. Such facilities offer personalized alcohol and drug addiction treatment to get started a journey to a sober life.

Page Sources

  1. Raouf M, Bettinger JJ, Fudin J. A Practical Guide to Urine Drug Monitoring. Federal Practitioner. 2018; 35(4): 38–44.
  2. Liebowitz MR, Tourian KA. Efficacy, safety, and tolerability of Desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d for the treatment of major depressive disorder:a systematic review of clinical trials. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2010; 12(3): PCC.09r00845. doi:10.4088/PCC.09r00845blu.
  3. Controlled Substances. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.
  4. Saul S. F.D.A. Approves Wyeth Antidepressant. The New York Times. 2008.

Published on: February 13th, 2020

Updated on: February 13th, 2020

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


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