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Zoloft and Alcohol

In today’s culture, more people than ever are struggling with substance abuse. We here at Mountain View Recovery know that not every person is the same, nor is the nature of their challenges. Because of this, we are constantly seeking to provide education and resources on the nature of substance abuse, and how to best help address the addiction crisis that has overtaken the United States. Different substances, legal and illegal, can be dangerous, especially when taken in combination. One such combination is Zoloft and Alcohol, a common concotion which causes side-effects that individuals are not always aware of. Read on to educate yourself further on how these drugs can interact.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft (also known as Sertraline) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) commonly prescribed by psychiatrists to help treat depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other common mental health disorders. It is a legally prescribed drug, with the helpful property of restoring the brain’s serotonin balance. Zoloft is typically prescribed long-term.


Is Zoloft Addictive?

Since Zoloft is a long-term antidepressant, it is not considered an addictive or narcotic substance. The potential for abuse is low according to psychiatrists, even though it is a mind-altering substance. Taken properly and as prescribed, Zoloft carries very little risk for abuse or addiction.

However, it should be noted that Zoloft can produce side-effects, as well as withdrawal symptoms if discontinued too quickly. As far as side-effects, the most common include: Nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, loss of appetite, increased sweating, diarrhea, upset stomach, and trouble sleeping.

Withdrawal symptoms are a little different than side-effects. Because Zoloft affects the way your brain produces and releases serotonin, discontinuing the medication too quickly can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as: anxiety, mood swings, dizziness, fatigue, flu symptoms, headache, and muscle spasms. Discontinuing an antidepressant such as Zoloft is not advisable without speaking to your doctor first. If Zoloft is not working properly for you, develop a taper plan with your psychiatrist to avoid any withdrawal symptoms.


Can you overdose on Zoloft?

Because Zoloft is not a narcotic, or addictive drug, it is rare that persons will overdose on Zoloft alone. One can take too much, and there are common symptoms that occur if an individual decides to take more than their prescribed amount. Some symptoms include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Shakiness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Fever

There are also some less common, but more severe, symptoms of an overdose, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Heart problems
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Stupor

Again, this is not overly common, as individuals do not tend to feel “high” when ingesting more than prescribed amounts of Zoloft. However, when combined with alcohol, Zoloft can become very dangerous, very quickly.

Zoloft and Alcohol Combined

As we have already established, Zoloft is considered an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). It affects the way our brains process serotonin, one of the “pleasure chemicals”. Used properly as an antidepressant, this prescription drug can be extremely effective for those struggling with depression. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant. This means that alcohol depresses, or dampens, the central nervous system. While the exact effects of combining these two substances are not crystal clear, healthcare professionals consistently maintain that drinking alcohol while taking an antidepressant is unwise.


Consider this: a depressant will typically counteract an antidepressant; makes sense, right? In fact, drinking alcohol can actually make depression symptoms worse than they were before an individual started taking Zoloft. There is also the issue of Zoloft enhancing the effects of alcohol while drinking. People tend to feel intoxicated quicker when combining Zoloft with alcohol, and the dangers of doing so are myriad. As the central nervous system depresses, brain functioning slows, which can lead to complications such as respiratory failure, coma, and even death.

Clearly, Zoloft and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. Even when taking Zoloft alone, as prescribed, there are still risks and side-effects that can occur. Naturally, when you combine this with an intoxicating substance such as alcohol, it enhances the risks and side-effects. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please contact us today. Our team has extensive experience with these issues, and specializes in polysubstance abuse. In fact, our telemed and telehealth services are here to help those who are not able to enter a treatment facility due to Covid-19. We are here for you!