Is desvenlafaxine a controlled substance? (+3 differences)

In this article, we will discuss whether desvenlafaxine is a controlled substance or not. We will look at the factors that separate it from being a controlled substance. Furthermore, we will look at some ways to manage if desvenlafaxine acts as a controlled substance. 

Is desvenlafaxine a controlled substance?

No, desvenlafaxine is not a controlled substance. It is a prescription medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, anxiety, and related conditions (1). 

Desvenlafaxine belongs to the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant drug class which exerts its actions by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the synaptic cleft thus, relieving depression and anxiety (1). 

However, since devenlafaxine is a prescription medication, it should always be used under a doctor’s supervision. You may not start or stop using this medication without your doctor’s recommendation as it may lead to severe consequences (1). 

Desvenlafaxine may not be considered a controlled substance because it does not lead to addiction or abuse. However, abruptly stopping the use of antidepressants may cause withdrawal symptoms in patients. 

What makes desvenlafaxine different from controlled substances?

Desvenlafaxine impacts the central nervous system (CNS) and profoundly alters the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, it is not included in the controlled substances based on many differences. 

Desvenlafaxine does alter brain chemistry but is not similar to controlled substances. Desvenlafaxine inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, which increases the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain thus, enhancing mood and energy, and alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms in patients (1). 

Controlled substances can modulate pain signals and activate the brain’s reward system which plays a key role in the potential for abuse. These substances increase the brain chemicals and upregulate the brain activity which alters perception, mood, and consciousness in patients leading to dependency (3). 

Desvenlafaxine can improve mood and increase energy and motivation which shows a resemblance to a controlled substance. However, desvenlafaxine exerts in action after 4-6 weeks of initiating desvenlafaxine treatment (2). 

Controlled substances on the other, show immediate results and improvement in mood and perception that gives a sense of pleasure. Therefore, dependency and abuse of these substances become common and easy. 

Controlled substances have several legislative restrictions and are not easily available. However, for therapeutic purposes, these can be prescribed and should be used under the strict supervision of healthcare providers to avoid abuse and misuse. 

Desvenlafaxine also requires a prescription and monitoring from a doctor for the safe and efficacious use of this medication. Abrupt stopping the medication can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, restlessness, dizziness, and insomnia (1).  

What are the common controlled substances available?

Controlled substances are not commonly available and have some legislative restrictions for use. Different states have their legislative laws and restrictions for the availability and use of controlled substances. Some of the common controlled substances are as follows (3):

  • Opioids (Morphine, Codeine)
  • Benzodiazepines (Alprazolam, Clonazepam)
  • Barbiturates (Amobarbital, Pentobarbital)
  • Stimulants (Methamphetamine, Amphetamine)

Controlled substances are illicit drugs that affect the CNS and can cause dependency in patients leading to addiction. These substances can have severe adversities if consumed at high doses (3). 

Controlled substances are usually used in the treatment of anxiety, seizures, insomnia, severe pain, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using controlled substances for the treatment of these conditions often causes physical and mental dependence (3).

However, the controlled substances are divided into separate schedules by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The drugs in Schedule 1 have the highest potential for abuse leading to less potential for abuse in subsequent scheduled drugs (3). 

As a pharmacist, I would advise you to always use desvenlafaxine under your doctor’s supervision. In the above article, we have discussed in detail that this medication is not included in controlled substances and it does not make you high or euphoric. 

However, some patients may feel energized or motivated due to desvenlafaxine which does not make it a controlled substance. I would recommend you carefully use and monitor yourself if you are on desvenlafaxine for potential dependency and side effects related to abuse. 

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Naseeruddin R, Rosani A, Marwaha R. Desvenlafaxine. [Updated 2023 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Andrade C. Desvenlafaxine. Indian J Psychiatry. 2009 Oct-Dec;51(4):320-3. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.58303. PMID: 20048462; PMCID: PMC2802384.


Aro HJ, Hussain A, Bobrin BD. Controlled Substances. [Updated 2023 Apr 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

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