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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

An image of someone mixing Zoloft and alcohol

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Combining Zoloft and alcohol is inadvisable.

Many people diagnosed with depression or anxiety find that medications like Zoloft provide welcome relief from symptoms.

Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription SSRI antidepressant. Like other SSRIs – serotonin reuptake inhibitors – Zoloft’s mechanism of action involves changing the way your brain cells reabsorb serotonin, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger.

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States, so if you are prescribed Zoloft, you might be wondering whether mixing Zoloft and alcohol is safe. Today’s guide highlights the potential dangers of combining these substances.

Can Zoloft and alcohol kill you, then?

Can You Die from Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol?

Medical professionals typically advise against combining alcohol and Zoloft. While everyone metabolizes alcohol and medications differently, interactions from combining these substances can be dangerous and possibly life-threatening.

Zoloft is an SSRI antidepressant that triggers the circulation of more serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, informally known as the happiness hormone, is associated with:

  • Emotions
  • Mood
  • Sleep

If you are prescribed Zoloft or any other SSRI, you should avoid drinking alcohol to minimize the likelihood of adverse interactions. These interactions occur because alcohol induces some of the same side effects as SSRIs.

Zoloft and alcohol death can stem from complications related to over-sedation. Additionally, combining these two increases the risk of suicidal ideation with potentially deadly effects.

An image of people at a bar mixing Zoloft and alcohol

Zoloft and Alcohol Side Effects

Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs. Taking multiple drugs at the same time increases the risk of negative interactions. Alcohol can intensity the side effects of Zoloft, increasing:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Suicidal thoughts

Combining these two can also trigger the following adverse outcomes:

  • Extreme oversedation
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Liver damage and toxicity
  • Suicidal ideation and behavior
  • Depression

Extreme oversedation

Alcohol and Zoloft are both CNS depressants. Working on the CNS (central nervous system), these substances both slow and suppress activity in the brain. When combined, the substances can induce oversedation.

In the most extreme cases, oversedation can trigger:

  • Dangerously slowed breathing
  • Coma
  • Death

Both alcohol and SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft cause the following effects:

  • Reduced alertness levels
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination

Combining alcohol and Zoloft can magnify those effects, potentially leading to accidents or injuries.

Serotonin syndrome

Zoloft is an SSRI medication that prevents the reuptake of serotonin, leading to increased serotonin levels in the brain. Alcohol also temporarily increases serotonin levels in the brain.

Combining these substances can bring about dangerously high serotonin levels, potentially triggering a life-threatening condition known as serotonin syndrome. Effects of serotonin syndrome include:

  1. Rapid heart rate
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Coma

Liver damage and toxicity

If you are taking an antidepressant and you drink too much alcohol, your liver may struggle to process the toxins, resulting in liver damage or toxicity.

Suicidal ideation and behavior

Some people taking antidepressants like Zoloft report in increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This can be heightened when the medication is combined with alcohol.

Depression

If you have depression, drinking alcohol is inadvisable, whether or not you are taking a medication like Zoloft. Alcohol suppresses brain signaling, adversely affecting your thinking and reasoning abilities. This can worsen depression and inflame the following symptoms:

  • Appetite loss
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Worthlessness
  • Insomnia

Get Help for Zoloft and Alcohol at Renaissance Recovery

Here at Renaissance Recovery Center, we offer a variety of outpatient treatment programs for alcohol use disorder, depression, and co-occurring disorders.

Studies show that outpatient programming is just as effective as residential rehab for treating most substance use disorders. Beyond that, outpatient therapy offers a more flexible and affordable way to initiate recovery from addiction and mental health issues while remaining anchored to your everyday commitments.

Choose from the following treatment programs:

If you require assistance with a supervised detox, we can connect you with licensed medical detox centers throughout Orange County.

Pursue a whole-body approach to recovery at Renaissance with access to these interventions:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapies like CBT or DBT, both proven effective for treating alcohol use disorder and mental health conditions)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Holistic therapies

Once you complete your treatment program, either steps down to a less structured form of care or move back into your everyday life. Your treatment team will equip you with the coping skills and relapse-prevention strategies you need to minimize the likelihood of relapse in your recovery.

For immediate assistance, reach out to Renaissance at 866.330.9449.

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Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country

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