AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on September 14, 2023
7 min read

Zoloft and Alcohol Interactions

What is Zoloft (Sertraline)?

Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription medication used for treating depression, specifically to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). The condition is characterized by persistent low mood and loss of interest in daily activities.

Zoloft is one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant medications in the United States.10 It can be prescribed to treat other mental health disorders, such as:1,2

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

Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

online consultation

What Are the Side Effects of Zoloft?

Common side effects of Zoloft during the initial phase of treatment include:1,2

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

Serious Side Effects of Zoloft

Zoloft can have rare or severe side effects. These include:2

  • Seizures
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or memory problems

Speak to your doctor if you experience any side effects when taking this medication. Although serious side effects are rare, your doctor might need to adjust your prescription or offer you an alternative antidepressant.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Zoloft?

Zoloft works to enhance neurotransmitter exchanges while alcohol suppresses it.1,4 Mixing Zoloft and alcohol can worsen the medication’s side effects and exacerbate depression symptoms.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Zoloft, work by inhibiting serotonin reuptake, increasing its availability in the brain. In contrast, alcohol acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, potentially diminishing Zoloft’s effectiveness and leading to unpredictable interactions.

Can Alcohol Affect Depression?

Drinking alcohol can suppress neurological signals that your brain needs to think and reason. Because of this, alcohol can worsen your depression.5

Heavy alcohol consumption can also make depressive symptoms worse. These include:5

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Weight changes
  • Loss of appetite

BetterHelp can Help

They’ll connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo

Zoloft and Alcohol Interactions

Polydrug use intensifies the effects of one or several drugs when taken simultaneously. Although it can lead to more euphoric highs, it also increases the risks of side effects and symptoms.

Taking Zoloft and alcohol counts as polydrug use and can lead to the following:

Increased Side Effects

Since alcohol is a depressant, drinking while on Zoloft can intensify its adverse effects. The reported side effects of mixing alcohol with Zoloft include:1,4

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

People who drink alcohol while taking Zoloft should avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or any other activity that requires focus and coordination. Alcohol impairs thoughts and judgment, which may potentially lead to dangerous situations.4

Developing Substance Dependence

Polydrug use can increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol dependence, and substance abuse. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft.

Worsening Mental Health

Another major side effect of Zoloft is the potential for increased suicidal thoughts or actions, especially among people under the age of 25.1,2 This is why it's crucial for healthcare providers to closely monitor patients, especially during the initial stages of treatment, to mitigate this risk.

Besides alcohol, Zoloft can also interact with other medications that affect serotonin and can increase the risk of severe side effects. Some drug combinations you should avoid are the following:1

  • Antipsychotics
  • Anticoagulants & antiplatelets
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
  • Other antidepressants
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • MDMA (ecstasy)

Risk of Developing Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is a serious drug reaction caused by medications that increase serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain responsible for several functions such as regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and pain perception.

However, too much serotonin causes symptoms that range from mild to severe. These include:

  • Headache
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of coordination
  • High blood pressure
  • Twitching muscles or muscle rigidity
  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Shivering

Severe serotonin syndrome can cause:

  • High fever
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

If severe serotonin syndrome isn’t treated it can be fatal. Because of this, you should avoid mixing Zoloft with other substances that increase your serotonin levels.


Thinking about Getting Help?

BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo

Can You Overdose on Zoloft and Alcohol?

Yes, it's possible to overdose on alcohol and Zoloft. If you’re drinking while on Zoloft, you need to monitor your body for symptoms of an overdose carefully.11

What's safe to drink for one person can be dangerous for another based on that person’s biology and the type of alcohol they consume. It’s important to remember that alcohol impairment may happen faster when combining drugs.11

If you notice any signs of a Zoloft or alcohol overdose, seek medical attention immediately. An overdose can lead to serious medical health complications like liver damage, seizures, and cardiovascular problems.11

Symptoms of a Zoloft Overdose

Symptoms of a Zoloft overdose, while rare, may include:11

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever and sweating
  • Confusion
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shivering
  • Severe muscle stiffness or twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Loss of consciousness

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Blue, grey, or pale skin
  • Hypothermia
  • Difficulty staying awake

If you notice one or more symptoms, seek medical help. Alcohol poisoning can be dangerous and fatal, especially if a passed-out person can’t wake up.

Is Zoloft Addictive?

Zoloft isn't typically associated with drug-seeking behavior. However, people who have taken Zoloft commonly experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop their medication. 

Zoloft withdrawal can happen even if you don't misuse it. This underscores the importance of gradual tapering under medical supervision to minimize these withdrawal effects. Remember to follow your doctor’s directions if you intend to stop taking Zoloft or any other antidepressant medication.

Side Effects of Zoloft Withdrawal

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

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

Contact a medical professional if you’re experiencing Zoloft withdrawal. Medically supervised withdrawal can help you make informed decisions about your care.

How to Take Zoloft Safely

Your Zoloft dosage will differ depending on your age and illness.

The FDA-approved dosage for adults with depression is typically 50 milligrams (mg) daily, taken in the morning or evening, with potential adjustments under medical guidance. For children receiving Zoloft, the appropriate dosage will depend on a doctor’s diagnosis.1

Other factors that affect dosage include:1

  • The strength of the medicine
  • The number of doses you take daily
  • The time allowed between doses

It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label to avoid an overdose. Don’t change your dosage unless your doctor tells you to do so.1

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

AUD is a medical condition that involves frequent or heavy alcohol use, which includes polysubstance use with other drugs. If you want to recover from AUD successfully, you’ll need professional help. 

Treatment options for AUD include:

It’s important to understand that people respond to treatment differently. Talk to a doctor or addiction specialist to find the right treatment option.


Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription medication for treating depression and other mental health conditions. It’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that affects serotonin levels in the brain.

Although safe, it can have adverse interactions with alcohol and other substances. This can amplify Zoloft’s side effects and increase the risk of serious symptoms.

Overdosing on Zoloft and alcohol is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you need help tapering off Zoloft use or alcohol consumption, consult your doctor.

Updated on September 14, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on September 14, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Singh, H.K., and Saadabadi, A. “Sertraline.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls, 2023.
  2. Sertraline (Oral Route) Side Effects - Mayo Clinic.”, 2023.
  3. Moak et al. "Sertraline and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depressed Alcoholics: Results of A Placebo-Controlled Trial," Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2003.
  4. Gill et al. "A further examination of the effects of sertraline on voluntary ethanol consumption.” Alcohol, 1988.
  5. McHugh, R.K., and Weiss, R.D. “Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders.” Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 2019.
  6. De Vane et al. "Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Sertraline." Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 2012.
  7. Brady et al. "Efficacy and Safety of Sertraline Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial." JAMA, 2000.
  8. Cipriani et al. "Sertraline versus other antidepressive agents for depression." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010.
  9. Andres et al. "The Use of Sertraline in Patients with Epilepsy: Is It Safe?" Epilepsy & Behavior, 2000.
  10. National Library of Medicine. “Commonly prescribed antidepressants and how they work.” 2020.
  11. Lau, G.T., and Horowitz, B.Z. “Sertraline Overdose.” Academic Emergency Medicine: Official Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, 1996.
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
© 2024 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
Back to top icon
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram