How to Safely Drink on Zoloft

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How to Safely Drink on Zoloft? Sertraline is sold as an antidepressant medication known as Zoloft that is commonly used to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. It is a prescription drug that belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other medications that fall under this class include Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, and Lexapro

Zoloft works by changing how the brain cells reabsorb the neurotransmitter serotonin, blocking the brain’s serotonin receptors and causing more serotonin molecules to circulate. This hormone stabilizes an individual’s mood, and increased serotonin levels can benefit brain functions like mood, emotions, and sleep. 

If you have been diagnosed with depression, social anxiety disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder and are taking Zoloft, you may wonder if alcohol consumption is okay. In general, doctors do not recommend the combination of alcohol with a drug like sertraline because it can intensify the common side effects of Zoloft, such as dizziness, sedation, and difficulty concentrating, which can lead to dangerous consequences. Explore the connection between the antidepressant and alcohol, if it is safe to drink while taking Zoloft, and the everyday interactions between the two below.

The Connection Between Depression and Alcohol

Mental health professionals do not recommend drinking if you struggle with depression, even while not on any prescription medication. This is because alcohol is a depressant drug that affects the central nervous system and interferes with receptors in the brain, suppressing neurological signals that change the way you think and reason. While alcohol can help ease symptoms of depression in the short term, it significantly worsens depressive symptoms over time and leads to a downward spiral. Many people diagnosed with conditions like depression, traumatic stress disorder, or experience panic attacks end up developing an alcohol use disorder due to self-medicating and building an alcohol dependency. Fortunately, plenty of treatment programs are available for overcoming a substance use disorder, such as therapy, medications, and support groups. If you are worried that you may have an alcohol addiction, take our free quiz to compare your symptoms with alcoholism.

Heavy drinking can significantly worsen symptoms of depression, such as:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite/weight fluctuation
  • Negative thoughts

Can I Drink Alcohol While On Zoloft?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends avoiding using alcohol while taking Zoloft, even if it is just a glass of wine or a single can of beer. The antidepressant is a central nervous system depressant that interacts with the brain’s receptors to improve its exchange system. At the same time, alcohol is a neurological suppressant that works to inhibit the neurotransmitter exchanges in your brain. Combining the two can complicate the effects of the other and cause harmful interactions with serious side effects and sometimes even be lethal. It is essential to seek medical advice from a healthcare provider before drinking even a tiny amount of alcohol while taking Zoloft. It is best to follow exactly what your healthcare provider tells you and avoid alcohol entirely if they instruct you to do so, even after treatment.

Everyday Interactions Between Zoloft and Alcohol

Alcohol is considered a drug just like Zoloft, and like all drugs, taking more than one at a time can significantly put your health at risk. There are harmful interactions that the mixture can cause to your body, including:

  • Altered communication pathways and functions in the brain
  • Changes to normal moods, behaviors, and feelings
  • Damaged motor coordination, movement skills, and memory loss
  • Difficulty thinking, controlling impulses, and decision making

A 2014 study on the risks of combining Zoloft and alcohol showed mental health issues like increased memory impairment, impulsivity, and violence in some people. Some older studies suggest that some people who take Zoloft can have an alcoholic drink or two, but as previously mentioned, always consult with your doctor before mixing any medications with alcohol to avoid the risk of negative interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you have an occasional drink while taking Zoloft?

The prescribing information for Zoloft says explicitly not to consume alcohol while taking the medication, which is also true for other SSRIs. Other medicines in this class of drugs include Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, and Lexapro. Even without the addition of alcohol, Zoloft has its list of side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, and a single drink can significantly worsen these effects. This is precisely why the prescribing information instructs the user not to drink alcoholic beverages while on Zoloft, even if it is just one glass of wine or a single can of beer. Another reason not to consume alcohol, especially if you just started taking the antidepressant, is you need to clearly understand how Zoloft affects your body, which can be extremely difficult with another substance added to the mix. 

2. Can you drink any alcohol on Zoloft?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against consuming alcohol while taking the antidepressant medication Zoloft. This is because the substance can significantly intensify the side effects of Zoloft, such as dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and sedation which can lead to dangerous consequences and health risks. Healthcare providers recommend that anyone diagnosed with depression on an antidepressant or not should stay away from alcohol altogether since it can worsen symptoms of your depression over time and lead to dangerous side effects. If you have depression and are struggling to quit drinking, consider speaking with your doctor for professional medical advice and treatment options for an alcohol addiction to get the help you need in a safe, comfortable, and effective way.

3. What would happen if I drank while on Zoloft?

Health professionals advise against drinking while taking Zoloft since it can make the adverse effects of the antidepressant come on more quickly and intensely, causing dizziness, headaches, excess sedation, suicidal thoughts, stomach aches, slowed breathing, and overall impairment. If you take a Zoloft after a few drinks out of habit, ask friends or family to monitor your condition. However, if you consume a large amount of alcohol, are beginning to feel suicidal, or are experiencing severe side effects, seek medical attention immediately as you are at a higher risk of unwanted side effects. Remember to consult your doctor about taking alcohol and Zoloft around the same time, as they will know best about decisions that can impact your health personally.

Indiana Recovery Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling to quit drinking while battling depression, the Indiana Recovery treatment center is here to help. We offer various treatment options for alcohol addiction, including detox programs, behavioral and group therapy sessions, and effective medication plans to help manage your condition. Take our free diagnosis quiz to get a better idea of any symptoms you are experiencing. Our team of qualified medical professionals is dedicated to providing patients with a safe and comfortable recovery throughout every process. Our family programs can also provide family members with the tools and skills they need to improve their family life despite the choices made by a member of the family struggling with alcoholism. Contact us at (844) 650-0064 today to learn more about our programs at the Indiana Recovery treatment facility.

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