Medically Reviewed

Can you Mix Alcohol and Zoloft?

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft (sertraline) is a commonly prescribed antidepressant drug. It belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of drugs and works by increasing the brain levels of serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, behavior, and motivation.1 It is often used to help treat mood and behavior disorders such as depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The most common side effects associated with the use of Zoloft include:2

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache

Other less common side effects of Zoloft include:2

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased sweating
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Changes in sex drive or performance
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Zoloft?

Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs that interact with the brain, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends not drinking alcohol while you take Zoloft.2 Alcohol can increase the nervous system side effects of Zoloft, including dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating.3 For this reason it is best to avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking Zoloft, especially if you are planning to drive or operate machinery.

Drinking causes the side effects of Zoloft to happen more quickly or intensely. Alcohol and Zoloft both cause sedation, and drinking can enhance the sedative effects from Zoloft.2  This can make you experience drowsiness much more quickly than if you were drinking alcohol alone. Some people also experience an upset stomach when taking Zoloft.2 Mixing Zoloft with alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of an upset stomach, possibly resulting in vomiting.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that by itself can cause depression.4 The consumption of alcohol can also worsen the symptoms of depression and make Zoloft less effective in treating these symptoms. This can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and actions in people who drink alcohol when taking Zoloft.5 If you have depression, your doctor will likely tell you not to consume alcohol, regardless of whether or not you are taking Zoloft.

Treatment Options

Please remember that mixing Zoloft and alcohol puts you at risk for dangerous interactions between these two drugs. Protect yourself by avoiding the consumption of alcohol if you are taking Zoloft. To learn more about how Zoloft may interact with alcohol, talk to your pharmacist or other health care provider.

If you have depression and feel that you cannot control your drinking, please ask your doctor for help or contact an addiction specialist today to discuss available treatment options. You may benefit from substance abuse counseling and personalized treatment programs designed to help you overcome your abuse of alcohol. You should strongly consider rehab centers that offer dual diagnosis programs for the simultaneous treatment of alcohol abuse and depression.6 These specialized programs take an integrated approach to provide ongoing evaluation and effective treatment for these co-occurring disorders.

Sources

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2018). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  2. U.S. Food and Drink Administration. (2016). Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride).
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Harmful interactions: Mixing alcohol with medicines.
  4. Boden, J.M., & Fergusson, D.M. (2011). Alcohol and depression. Addiction, 106(5), 906-914.
  5. Goldstein, B.I., Diamantouros, A., Schaffer, A., & Naranjo, C.A. (2006). Pharmacotherapy of alcoholism in patients with co-morbid psychiatric disorders. Drugs, 66(9), 1229-1237.
  6. DeVido, J.J., & Weiss, R.D. (2012). Treatment of the depressed alcoholic patient. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(6), 610-618.
Last Updated on October 30, 2019
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