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Sertraline is a prescription antidepressant medication. It’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which means it enhances the function of nerve cells in the brain and ensures that serotonin levels don’t drop too low.
Sertraline works by rebalancing the brain’s chemicals. This reduces or eliminates feelings of depression, anxiety, or panic. This drug is also used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Sertraline is one of the most powerful antidepressant medications available for treating mental health issues. It should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
The most common side effects of sertraline include:
You should report any of the following side effects to your doctor immediately:
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
Anyone using Sertraline or Zoloft should avoid drinking. It is usually safe to drink a small amount of alcohol, but it’s impossible to predict how your body will respond until you do it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends avoiding mixing alcohol with Zoloft.
Drinking a lot of alcohol while using Zoloft or any other drug is dangerous. Both substances affect the work of your brain, which can produce a negative reaction.
People taking Sertraline and drinking alcohol might experience:
The most common side effect is drowsiness. Both alcohol and Sertraline are known to induce fatigue because both have a sedative effect.
It’s possible to develop an addiction to Sertraline and alcohol. If you are addicted and you stop using either substance, withdrawal is possible. Symptoms of depression and other mental health issues are also likely to arise when you change your use of sertraline and what you are combining it with.
Many symptoms associated with alcohol and Sertraline withdrawal are serious and require medical attention. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are using sertraline and alcohol and you stop and experience any of the following:
Overdose is possible when using alcohol and sertraline. This is why you must carefully monitor your alcohol intake when using antidepressants. Not drinking alcohol when using sertraline is the only way to ensure you don’t overdose or experience any negative side effects from mixing these two substances.
Also, remember there are no guidelines for safe alcohol consumption when using sertraline. What is safe for someone else might not be safe for you. It all depends on your biological makeup and the type of alcohol you drink. Because of the unpredictable nature of alcohol with sertraline interactions, medical professionals encourage users to err on the side of caution.
Keep in mind, alcohol impairment occurs faster when drinking is combined with drugs. At the very least, sertraline users who drink alcohol should avoid:
Combining or misusing sertraline and alcohol can be fatal. The most common cause of a fatal reaction to the combination is serotonin syndrome. This occurs when there is an accumulation of serotonin in the brain. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
Combining alcohol with an antidepressant can also lead to toxicity or poisoning. Symptoms of toxicity include:
The detox and withdrawal process is also extended when SSRIs have been mixed with alcohol.
One study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, showed that brainstem depression is possible when mixing sertraline and alcohol. This increases the risk of coma, respiratory depression, and death.
Suicidal thoughts are a risk for anyone using antidepressant medications.
If you are trying to quit drinking, you may experience challenging and unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms. They can occur as soon as two hours following the last drink and can persist for four days or longer depending on the physical dependence level.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Mild symptoms include:
More severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
Delirium tremens (DTs) usually begin within 48 to 72 hours after your last drink. They are potentially life-threatening and extremely severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms or others, it is essential to seek medical help immediately.
Sertraline and alcohol abuse requires medically supervised treatment.
You should follow the medical advice of your healthcare provider when stopping use of sertraline. This is especially true for those who began using sertraline recreationally. Someone who began using sertraline according to their doctor’s directions, but became addicted to mixing the medication with alcohol also needs assistance with a supervised detox.
Also, keep in mind someone with a co-occurring disorder who is abusing antidepressants and alcohol must receive medical attention for the original disorder during treatment. Successful treatment is only possible when all co-occurring disorders are treated.
A gradual taper is the safest way to stop using sertraline or any other prescription antidepressant, regardless of whether it was used recreationally or by prescription. This taper should occur under the supervision of a doctor.
Inpatient or outpatient recovery is the best option for someone addicted to sertraline and alcohol once they complete their detox and withdrawal. A recovery program that includes long-term sobriety goals can be paired with group and one-on-one counseling, family therapy, participation in a 12-step program, and more, based on the individual’s needs.
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