Zoloft and Alcohol: Interactions, Dangers and Effects

Generally, for people taking antidepressants, drinking alcohol is not recommended. It interacts with a number of medications,  significantly altering their effects in the body, leading to potentially fatal consequences.

Alcohol itself can worsen the symptoms of depression.

Zoloft is a brand of the generic drug, Sertraline. It belongs to the class of antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

It is recommended for use in the treatment of major depressive disorders, in anxiety disorders, and in post-traumatic stress disorders.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Zoloft?

Antidepressants generally do not go well with alcohol. Alcohol interferes with serotonin receptors in the brain, preventing serotonin from binding to them. It results in the build-up of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine and norepinephrine.

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Alcohol, therefore, potentiates the sedative side effect of Zoloft. In other words, taking alcohol while taking Zoloft could leave you feeling very sleepy and unsteady on your feet. It may affect other activities such as driving, working or even your judgment.

Zoloft and alcohol are extensively metabolized by the liver. Taking the two at the same time can put the liver at a greater risk of serious damage.

Dangers of Taking Alcohol With Zoloft

1. Zoloft-Alcohol Black Out

Zoloft increases the chances of alcohol blackouts. Alcohol blackout is an episode where a person who has taken alcohol heavily cannot form memories during the time of intoxication. That is, everything that happens that period is a faded blur to them.

Zoloft-alcohol combination destabilizes serotonin and other neurotransmitters which are responsible for memory formation, leading to the blackouts.

2. Increased Hangover Effect

Taking Zoloft with excessive alcohol increases the chances of Zoloft-alcohol induced hangover. In addition to the regular symptoms of hangovers, this Zoloft alcohol-induced hangover may also cause symptoms like:

  • Dizziness, vertigo, and lightheadedness
  • Flu-like symptoms like joint aches, nausea, vomiting, chills
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light and sound
  • Abdominal pains and cramps
  • Tremors
  • Increased anxiety, irritability, and depression
  • Increased heartbeat

3. Liver Damage

Although rare, Zoloft is reported to cause abnormalities of the liver, it can increase some liver enzymes.

Alcohol also has been reported to cause liver cirrhosis (extreme liver damage). A combination of both Zoloft and alcohol, therefore, would increase the chances of liver damage.

4. Death From Overdose

Zoloft increases the depressant effect of alcohol in the brain and in the body. With Zoloft, the quantity of alcohol needed to cause poisoning is drastically reduced, hence, someone drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft would quickly attain and cross the poison mark.

This can lead to respiratory depression and consequently death if emergency medical attention is not received.

5. Increased Depression

Alcohol and Zoloft, when taken together, affect the central nervous system. They both interact with the brain thereby causing exaggerated responses from the nervous system and further intensify symptoms of depression.

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6. Insomnia

Alcohol aggravates the inability to sleep well at night leading to insomnia. Initially, alcohol may cause heavy feelings of drowsiness. However, with time the sleep cycle starts to get interrupted to the point of insomnia.

7. Increased Sedation

The sedative effect of Zoloft is further aggravated with the introduction of alcohol to the body. This may lead to decreased motor skills, impaired judgment, and coordination.

It may also affect a person’s ability to perform tasks that require focus and attention like driving and operating machinery. There are also greater chances for increased mood fluctuations which may result in extreme moodiness.

Side Effects of Zoloft and Alcohol

Alcohol has the potential to increase the symptoms of depression when taken by people suffering from depression. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Increased Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or insomnia
  • Restlessness

Common side effects of sertraline that can be aggravated by alcohol consumption include;

  • Increased sweating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleepiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased libido
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Tremors
  • Unusual weight loss

The side effects of each of the two substances are significantly magnified when taken together.

Summary

Zoloft should not be taken with alcohol because its side effects may become more pronounced.

It is safer to stay off alcohol while treating depression. If you need help with quitting alcohol, you may want to talk to your physician so you can consider centers that would help you quit.

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