Substance Use

What Are the Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse?

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Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse

Zoloft, also known as sertraline hydrochloride, is one of the most commonly abused antidepressants in the United States. This medication belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) family. SSRIs restore depleted serotonin, which in turn, regulates sleep, digestion, wound healing, and sexual desire.

Zoloft is prescribed as an antidepressant for people with the following mental health disorders:

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder (PD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Suicidal thoughts

SSRIs do not have an addictive nature though some people may abuse them for their euphoric effects. During early 2020, disruptions in the supply chain caused sertraline to go into a shortage. This prompted some people to mix substances with Zoloft to prolong its effects. 

Using Zoloft for longer than prescribed can result in problematic withdrawal symptoms. In addition, people who abuse Zoloft will experience side effects that include physical and psychological changes. These side effects cause short-term discomfort and, in some cases, lasting changes.

It’s difficult to treat Zoloft abuse without professional detox to overcome withdrawal. Zinnia Healing treatment centers provide an array of programs to treat substance use disorders and mental health conditions. If you or a loved one struggles with Zoloft abuse, give us a call at (855) 430-9439 to find out how we can help.

What Are Common Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse?

The most common side effects a person will experience when taking Zoloft are drowsiness and stomach upset. However, high doses can cause the following:

  • Tremor 
  • Myoclonus (involuntary muscle twitching)
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Over-responsive body reflexes
  • Delirium
  • Hyperthermia

According to the National Library of Medicine, a Zoloft overdose is generally well-tolerated, although it does require medical attention. The treatment for serotonin syndrome caused by Zoloft toxicity is discontinuing Zoloft and supportive care.

What Are Short-Term Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse?

The short-term side effect of Zoloft abuse is serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by high levels of serotonin.

This syndrome causes:

  • Changes in mental status
  • Neuromuscular hyperactivity
  • Changes in the autonomic system

This syndrome can be mild, moderate, or severe. Depending on what level of serotonin syndrome a person has, the symptoms can last for hours, days, weeks, or longer. 

They include:

  • Mild: Mild hypertension, fast heart rate, dilated pupils, excessive sweating, shivering, tremor, involuntary muscle movement, and overreactive reflexes. 
  • Moderate: Mild symptoms plus hyperthermia, hyperactive bowels, mild agitation, hypervigilance, and changes in speech. 
  • Severe: Mild symptoms as well as erratic pulse, irregular blood pressure, delirium, and muscle rigidity. 

A person with serotonin syndrome requires hospitalization to treat their symptoms and to remove Zoloft from their system. Although the outcome is favorable, a person could suffer from long-term side effects and complications without quick treatment. 

Physical dependence on Zoloft doesn’t have to end in painful Zoloft withdrawal symptoms. Zinnia Healing’s inpatient rehab centers provide addiction recovery services for those addicted to Zoloft. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to find out more. 

What Are Long-Term Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse?

A person who develops severe serotonin syndrome can suffer from long-term complications. This person may experience seizures, acute respiratory distress, respiratory failure, abnormal blood clotting, coma, and, in some cases, death. In addition, respiratory failure may lead to a lower-than-normal blood oxygen level (hypoxia), which can cause lasting lung damage.

Does Zoloft Abuse Affect Your Personality?

People who abuse Zoloft may display the classic warning signs of drug abuse. These include driving recklessly, having unprotected sex, and getting into legal trouble. Due to the sedative nature of Zoloft, a person abusing the drug may neglect school and work responsibilities. You may also notice the following behavioral changes:

  • Increased secretive behavior
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Unprovoked anxiety and paranoia

When more than one substance is involved with Zoloft use (polysubstance abuse), the person will display additional personality changes. This individual will require ongoing substance abuse treatment (including an aftercare addiction treatment program) to avoid withdrawal and relapse.

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact with Zoloft?

According to Medline Plus, Zoloft is known to cause drug interactions. Before taking sertraline, let your doctor know if you are taking any of the following non-prescription and prescription drugs:

  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors: These include isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), methylene blue, phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Pamate). 
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Miodarone (Nexterone, Pacerone)
  • Amphetamines
  • Anticoagulants (“blood thinners”): This includes Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and Heparin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): This includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
  • Atomoxetine (Straterra)
  • Buspirone
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Any medication containing dextromethorphan
  • Fentanyl
  • Droperidol (Inapsine)
  • Erythromycin 
  • Fosphenytoin (Cerebyx)
  • Iloperidone (Fanapt)
  • Lithium (Lithobid)
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Medications for mental illness 
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Anti-seizure medications such as Gabapentin
  • Medications to regulate the heartbeat: This includes flecainide and propafenone (Rythmol).
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Anti-migraine medications: This includes almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex), and zolmitriptan (Zomig).
  • Mefloquine; methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Nebivolol (Bystolic, in Byvalson)
  • Pentamidine (Nebupent, Pentam)
  • Perphenazine
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek)
  • Procainamide
  • Quinidine (in Nuedexta)
  • Sedatives
  • Sleeping pills
  • Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): This includes citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), and fluvoxamine (Luvox).
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI): This includes desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), levomilnacipran (Fetzima), and venlafaxine.
  • Sotalol (Betapace, Sotylize)
  • Tacrolimus (Astagraf, Envarsus XR, Prograf)
  • Thioridazine
  • Tolterodine (Detrol)
  • Tramadol (Conzip, Qdolo, Ultram)
  • Tranquilizers
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: These include amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin, imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine.
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Zoloft interacts with all protein-bound drugs.

Zoloft addiction doesn’t have to be part of your future. Zinnia Healing’s inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are designed to help you curb current and future cravings. Contact us at (855) 430-9439 to begin your journey today.