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Zoloft and Alcohol Interactions

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What is Zoloft (Sertraline)?

Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription medication used for treating depression. 

It’s also given to people diagnosed with: 

  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain. 

Zoloft is one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant medications in the United States.  

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Side Effects of Zoloft

Side effects of Zoloft include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased libidos
  • Abnormal sexual function, including erectile dysfunction
  • Tremors
  • Upset stomach
  • Sweating

You should speak to your doctor if you experience any side effects when taking this medication. 

Most side effects are not serious, but your doctor might need to adjust your prescription or offer you an alternative antidepressant.

Is Zoloft Addictive?

Zoloft isn't typically associated with drug-seeking behavior.

However, people prescribed Zoloft commonly experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication, even if they didn't misuse it. 

It’s important to follow your doctor’s directions if you intend to stop taking Zoloft or any other antidepressant medication. 

Signs and symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia 
  • Mood changes

Medically supervised withdrawal can help you make informed decisions about your care. It can help you safely monitor potential side effects and withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication.

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Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Zoloft?

Drinking alcohol affects the brain and entire central nervous system (CNS). Since alcohol and Zoloft both affect the CNS, drinking can worsen the medication’s side effects.

Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft.

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Zoloft and Alcohol Interaction & Side Effects

The reported side effects of Zoloft include::

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Suicidal thoughts

Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking alcohol with Zoloft can increase the incidence of these adverse effects. It is advised to avoid alcohol while taking Zoloft.

Stopping Zoloft quickly may result in serious side effects such as:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Electric shock-like sensations

Medically supervised withdrawal can help safely monitor and manage potential side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

Can You Overdose on Zoloft and Alcohol?

Yes. It's possible to overdose on alcohol and Zoloft. For this reason, you need to carefully monitor your alcohol intake while taking the antidepressant or avoid drinking alcohol completely.

What's safe for one person can be dangerous for another based on that person’s biological makeup and the type of alcohol he or she consumes. 

It’s important to remember that alcohol impairment may happen faster when combining drugs. People who drink alcohol while taking Zoloft should avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or doing any other activity that is dangerous for an impaired person to perform.

A major side effect of Zoloft is the potential for increased suicidal thoughts or actions, especially in people under the age of 25. Alcohol impairs thoughts and judgment and may have the potential to lead to dangerous situations.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

The best treatments for AUD include:

Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation care

Inpatient care involves admission into a rehabilitation facility and undergoing intensive care and monitoring.

Outpatient care works around the patient’s schedule and doesn’t require them to stay overnight.

Multisystemic therapy (MST)

MST is focused on Youth Alcohol Recovery and involves contacting and engaging the family of the young person with AUD.

The aim is to determine the root cause of the addiction and help the physician determine the best treatment option. 

Medications

Medication-assisted treatment is another effective treatment option for alcohol use disorder.

Disulfiram (Antabuse) may help prevent drinking. Others like Naltrexone and Acamprosate can also help treat alcohol addiction.

Aftercare programs and support groups

Continuous support after undergoing intensive treatment is essential.

Joining a support group can help you recover and cope with lifestyle changes and relapse management.

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Updated on March 25, 2022
9 sources cited
  1. Lau, G. T., and B. Z. Horowitz. “Sertraline Overdose.” Academic Emergency Medicine: Official Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, vol. 3, no. 2, 1 Feb. 1996, pp. 132–136.
  2. Sertraline (Oral Route) Side Effects - Mayo Clinic.” Mayoclinic.org, 2020.
  3. Moak, Darlene H. MD, et al. "Sertraline and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depressed Alcoholics: Results of A Placebo-Controlled Trial," Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology." Dec 2003 - vol.e 23 pp. 553-562.
  4. K. Gill, Y. Filion, et al. "A further examination of the effects of sertraline on voluntary ethanol consumption, Alcohol." Vol 5, 1988, Pages 355-358.
  5. Glassman AH, O'Connor CM, Califf RM, et al. "Sertraline Treatment of Major Depression in Patients With Acute MI or Unstable Angina." JAMA. 2002.
  6. De Vane, C.L., Liston, H.L. & Markowitz, J.S. "Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Sertraline." Clin Pharmacokinet 41, 1247–1266 .
  7. Brady K, Pearlstein T, Asnis GM, et al. "Efficacy and Safety of Sertraline Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress DisorderA Randomized Controlled Trial." JAMA. 2000;283:1837–1844.
  8. Cipriani  A, La Ferla, et al. "Sertraline versus other antidepressive agents for depression." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. No.: CD006117. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006117.pub3.
  9. Andres M. Kanner, et al. "The Use of Sertraline in Patients with Epilepsy: Is It Safe?" Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 1, Issue 2, 2000, Pages 100-105, https://doi.org/10.1006/ebeh.2000.0050.

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