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Zoloft And Alcohol: Is Drinking On Sertraline Dangerous?

combination of alcohol and zoloft

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Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant drug that increases the neurotransmitter serotonin’s quantity in the brain. This drug helps to regulate one’s mood and behavior. To enhance its effects, some patients may wonder: can Zoloft be taken with alcohol? The answer to this question is: No! Attempts to treat depression or anxiety with a drink and SSRI medication not only worsens the symptoms but can cause serious adverse reactions, which may even prove to be fatal. Read along further to know about Zoloft and alcohol adverse interactions, how serious they can be, and if its consumption should be stopped while taking antidepressant medications.

Table Of Contents:

Can One Drink When Taking Zoloft?

FDA doesn’t recommend patients taking Zoloft medication to consume liquor during the treatment course. This is a dangerous combination that can cause several adverse problems, some of which are discussed below.

Increased Side Effects

Zoloft, on its own, can cause several common and serious reactions. A study about the interaction between antidepressants and liquor concluded that it could worsen certain symptoms such as drowsiness, sedation, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and suicidal thoughts when the drug is combined with hard liquor. These can even become fatal in some situations.
 Depressed man with alcohol drink.

Increased Depression

When taken in significant amounts, alcohol becomes a depressant; thereby, the substance has a risk of aggravating the underlying depression and making it even worse when it is combined with this antidepressant.

Extreme Intoxication

Various studies have shown that antidepressants decrease liquor tolerance, which can cause extreme intoxication and other problems.

Reduced Effectiveness

Since alcohol tends to cause depression, it can negate Sertraline’s action of sertraline, causing it to become ineffective or, in extreme conditions, further worsening of the disorder for which the medication was being taken. Sertraline and alcohol combination translates to an unusual presentation of side effects such as excessive drowsiness, gross impairment of attention, judgment, and thinking.

Risk Of Overdose

Combining Zoloft and alcohol increases the risk of overdose that can cause serious and life-threatening conditions.

Liver Damage

Antidepressants are associated with an increased risk of developing liver diseases. Excessive drinking can also lead to liver problems. Thus, combining alcohol and Zoloft can further increase the risk of liver injury.

Other Warnings

This dangerous combination can cause several other severe reactions based on the individual’s current health and any pre-existing conditions or diseases. This can also interact with any other medicine the patient might be taking, causing fatal complications.

Side Effects of Alcohol and Zoloft Interaction

When Zoloft and alcohol are taken together, they are bound to interact pharmacologically, resulting in different sertraline adverse reactions. The problems manifest differently in different individuals based on their physiologic profile, health status, and fitness level. Common side effects of Zoloft and alcohol are described below:

Nervous System And Cognitive Side Effects

A Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics Journal found that the risk of extreme drowsiness and sedation is unusually high when liquor is combined with a Sertraline dose of 100mg or more.
Woman feels dizzy after taking Zoloft with alcohol.
People who combine liquor with this drug report that they get intoxicated faster and to a greater extent than they would otherwise. The intense intoxication impairs their coordination, judgment, and cognition abruptly and without warning. They also blackout easily.

Some of the cognitive disorders associated with mixing alcohol and sertraline are listed below:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness and blackouts

Mental Disorders

Liquor, being a depressant, may amplify the underlying depression causing one to believe as though the treatment is not working.

Drinking also increases the chances of not taking sertraline medicine as instructed. The result of compromised patient compliance with antidepressant therapy is impaired recovery, and it may even worsen the symptoms of depression.

The mental disorders associated with this combined use include the following:

  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Suicide ideation

Gastrointestinal Effects

Drinking on antidepressant drugs can cause worsen certain gastrointestinal side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight changes
  • Upset Stomach

Zoloft weight loss is known among sertraline side effects, and in combination with a liquor it can worsen the situation.

Physiological Adverse Effects

Taking sertraline while drinking can increase various physiological symptoms as well, some of which are listed below:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Bruising easily
  • Bleeding easily

Sexual Adverse Effects

The severe intoxication that results from combining this antidepressant drug and excessive beer consumption causes disinhibited behavior.

The study published on the NCBI website states that heavy drinking may predispose one to inappropriate behavior, including 13% of getting into risky sexual activities.

Mixing drinks with sertraline may worsen its sexual side effects such as:

  • Delayed orgasm
  • Inability to orgasm
  • Decreased sex drive
  • In the case of men, the inability to achieve and maintain an erection

Effects Of Drinking On Depression

Liquor-containing substances should strongly be off-limits for anyone suffering from depression. Its use can suppress neurological signals, which eventually inhibit one’s ability to reason and think. Thus, the substance affects depression and can make it worse.
Man sits at a table with a bottle of alcohol.
This can be depicted in the form of worsening of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • A general feeling of sadness and worthlessness

When a drink is combined with the use of antidepressants, the depression worsens further. It can even cause the user to feel suicidal and act on such intentions, which can be fatal. Hence, drinking on depression while taking antidepressants should be avoided at all costs.

Zoloft And Alcohol Death: Is That Possible?

The risk of developing serotonin syndrome is higher for people who mix this medicine and liquor, leading to death in certain situations. Serotonin syndrome is potentially life-threatening and happens due to the accumulation of serotonin in the brain. This syndrome commonly causes agitation, restlessness, headaches, diarrhea, shivering, and other symptoms.

However, according to the research, some of the dangerous symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • High fever
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Hypertension
  • Tachycardia
  • Death
Combining alcohol and Zoloft can lead to severe toxicity and poisoning. The heavy intoxication can cause impaired mental and motor functions. This also reduces visual acuity and causes the inhibition of attention and information processing. It also prolongs the detoxification and withdrawal process if the medication is to be discontinued.

Excessive liquor consumption in one sitting alongside sertraline may cause severe depression in the life support centers in the brainstem. According to the study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, Brainstem depression occurs when liquor concentrations in the blood exceed 400 mg/dl and may culminate in a coma, respiratory depression, and ultimately, death.

Woman overdosed on sertraline pills and alcohol.

Should One Stop Drinking on Zoloft

Drinking, by itself, is harmful to the human body. However, when people combine a drink with certain medicines, adverse reactions increase manifold. Combining sertraline with liquor, just like mixing Zoloft and marijuana, not only leads to intense intoxication but may also lead to several undesirable and life-threatening adverse effects. Both these substances work in the brain, and their interaction may pose serious health risks.

Alcoholics also can worsen an underlying depressive illness, as shown in the study about intoxicant use disorder and depressive disorders. When this medication is combined with liquor, death can also be a possibility. This should be a more than enough reason for anyone to quit drinking when taking antidepressants or seek treatment.

What To Do In Case Of Alcoholism And/Or Antidepressant Abuse?

Mixing liquor and antidepressants is a big NO. Note that both Zoloft and alcohol are addictive, and mixing them can worsen symptoms and disorders. Professional medical help should be sought out at once if one has noticed addiction to sertraline or alcohol or both.

Suffering patients should contact a rehab clinic or center to start their journey towards recovery in a safe, professional and conducive environment. A professional rehabilitation center can help them to detoxify their bodies safely and with minimum withdrawal symptoms. All the associated adverse conditions can be monitored by the qualified doctor and treated to help the patients towards a safe recovery. The aftercare services offered to the patients help them in preventing relapse.
Sources
  1. David B. Menkes, and Andrew Herxheimer, Interaction between antidepressants and alcohol, signal amplification by multiple case reports, 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25214162/
  2. Ai-Leng Foong, BSc, Tejal Patel, BScPharm, PharmD, Jamie Kellar, BScHK, BScPhm, PharmD, and Kelly A. Grindrod, BScPharm, PharmD, MSc, The Scoop on Serotonin Syndrome, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6141939/
  3. R. Kathryn McHugh and Roger D. Weiss, Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders, 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799954/
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  8. The United States Food and Drug Administration, ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) Label, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019839S74S86S87_20990S35S44S45lbl.pdf
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Nena Messina

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.