Substance Use

Zoloft and Alcohol Substance Abuse

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

bottle of liquor and rx pill bottle

Mixing Alcohol and Zoloft: What Are the Dangers?

The 2019 coronavirus pandemic amplified feelings of hopelessness and overwhelm for people worldwide. In June 2020, over 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health due to the pandemic, with 13% using substances to cope. This number has only increased since the FDA announced a supply-chain interruption which caused the antidepressant Zoloft to go into a shortage. While physicians have switched their patients to other well-tolerated drugs in the same category as Zoloft, some patients have resorted to using alcohol to prolong the effects of this drug. 

Mixing alcohol with certain antidepressants can affect how a person behaves; it can even affect their health. Since antidepressants fall under different medication classes, the effects of mixing alcohol with them can range from mild to severe. 

This article will discuss the effects of mixing Zoloft with alcohol and why this combination can lead to dangerous consequences. If you are worried about these effects and are currently combining alcohol with Zoloft, call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 for help quitting. 

Why Are People Mixing Alcohol With Zoloft?

According to a study on Alcohol Consumption and Use of Antidepressants published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, individuals with clinical depression drank more when they were not on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) than those who were. This is due to Zoloft providing a similar serotonin boost as alcohol, so using one counteracts the need for the other. Even still, people may mix alcohol and Zoloft to prolong a feeling of euphoria. They may also mix alcohol to avoid “coming down” from Zoloft and reexperiencing the symptoms of depression. 

Mixing Alcohol and Zoloft: The Dangers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns those who take Zoloft to avoid drinking alcohol. Zoloft can cause drowsiness and slow your reaction time. For these reasons, taking Zoloft when operating heavy machinery or a vehicle is unsafe. The depressive effects of alcohol may amplify these effects.

Mixing alcohol with Zoloft may result in the following dangers:

  • Higher risk of car accidents due to slowed reaction times. 
  • Increase in risky behavior such as having risky unprotected sex or taking part in dangerous activities for fun. 
  • Increased risk of injury caused by impaired motor skills. 

Taking Zoloft impairs your ability to function normally, so if you mix it with alcohol, you may drink more than you intended. Drinking too much alcohol in a short time can result in alcohol poisoning (alcohol overdose), a medical emergency.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Impaired speech, memory, attention, coordination
  • Blackouts
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Unresponsiveness 
  • Suppression of vital life functions
  • Coma
  • Death

Zoloft: What Is it?

Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline hydrochloride, a prescription selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat the following mental health disorders:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD): A mood disorder that causes a relentless feeling of sadness. 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): An uncontrollable impulse to perform the same actions repeatedly. 
  • Panic Disorder (PD): A sudden, unprovoked feeling of fear and anxiety. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A set of disturbing psychological symptoms that occur after a traumatic event. 
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD): An extreme fear when meeting new people or interacting with others. People with this condition avoid social situations. 
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): An extreme version of premenstrual syndrome. 

As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Zoloft increases depleted serotonin stores. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a chemical neurotransmitter that behaves as a hormone. It works to regulate sleep, digestion, wound healing, blood clotting, and sexual desire. It is also a major contributing factor to mood stabilization. A serotonin deficiency is often the cause of clinically diagnosed depression. 

If you have been diagnosed with a mood disorder and you’re mixing alcohol with Zoloft to cope, Zinnia Healing can help you recover. Quitting can help you get a handle on depression and live and happy and fulfilling life. Call us 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.  

Side Effects of Zoloft

It is common for sertraline to cause side effects. Although they are uncomfortable, they should not be severe.  

Side-effects of Zoloft include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia 
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weight change
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Trembling
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Sweating

The following side effects should be reported to a medical professional immediately:

  • Seizure
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Rash
  • Hive
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Confusion 
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of coordination

Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms

Abruptly discontinuing Zoloft can cause adverse reactions. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • Nausea
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Vertigo
  • Sensory disturbance 
  • Tremor
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep disorder
  • Tinnitus
  • Seizures

To avoid Zoloft withdrawal symptoms, a tapering dose is prescribed over a specified time.

Have you or a loved one attempted to stop using Zoloft while drinking but suffered severe withdrawal symptoms? Zinnia Healing can help. We offer dual-diagnosis programs at our treatment centers to help with mental health disorders and addiction. In addition, we provide inpatient and outpatient support group services and inpatient detox under professional medical supervision. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn more. 

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Alcohol with Zoloft

There are no reported long-term effects of mixing alcohol and Zoloft. However, drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft may worsen symptoms of depression since it counteracts antidepressants. When combining them, you may feel that your prescribed Zoloft isn’t working, resulting in ‘untreated depression.’

People with untreated depression run a higher risk of developing alcohol abuse and substance use disorders. These conditions, if left untreated, can cause the following:

  • Social isolation
  • Deterioration of your physical appearance
  • Financial problems
  • Lack of motivation
  • Changes in your speech 
  • Changes in your personality

Zinnia Healing Can Help

If you’re struggling with feelings of depression and you feel that drinking is the only way you can cope, Zinnia Healing can help. We not only treat substance abuse, but we also treat your underlying depression.

Our medication-assisted detox programs are designed to safely wean you off alcohol while continuing your Zoloft treatment for depression. We also offer talk therapy in an individual or group setting to get you on the right track. Mixing Zoloft and alcohol doesn’t have to be part of your future. Call us at (855) 430-9439 and begin your path to sobriety.