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Dangers of Mixing Zoloft & Alcohol

It’s not recommended to mix Zoloft and alcohol, as it can produce a variety of bad outcomes. 

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As a general rule, you shouldn’t drink at all on Zoloft and most antidepressants. For those who choose to drink regardless, this should only be done lightly—no more than one or two standard alcoholic drinks. Binge drinking can be very dangerous on antidepressants like Zoloft. 

What Happens When You Mix Zoloft & Alcohol?

Zoloft is a brand name for the antidepressant sertraline. On its own, it can treat symptoms of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder. It helps increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurochemical that helps a person maintain a sense of mental and emotional balance.[1]

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and it usually isn’t recommended that a person taking Zoloft drink significant amounts of alcohol while on the drug.[2] The combination of these drugs can have a number of unwanted effects, including just reducing the overall efficacy of Zoloft, making it less helpful in treating whatever it was prescribed for.[3]

In some cases, these drugs can cause dangerous effects when taken together. As discussed more later, some of these effects may be life-threatening.

Why Do People Typically Mix Zoloft & Alcohol?

Why people mix these substances isn’t well-studied, and it isn’t clear how commonly this is done. However, it’s likely relatively common. Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the United States, and alcohol is a widely available recreational drug.[3] 

Alcohol is also often a drug people misuse when feeling depressed or anxious. Zoloft is prescribed specifically to people who often deal with these issues. There is a clear association between alcohol misuse and depression.[4] While using alcohol to cope with negative feelings isn’t a healthy outlet, and it is even less advisable if one is on Zoloft, it is logical to assume that a significant portion of Zoloft users are also drinking alcohol. 

It should be emphasized that this has the potential to worsen mental health rather than help it. Alcohol has significant abuse and addiction risk, especially for people with chronic mental health issues. Even if drinking may temporarily make you feel less anxious or better in some other way, using it because you don’t like how you feel when sober is unsafe and worsens problems in the long term.

The Dangers of Mixing Both Substances

There are several potential dangers when mixing these medications. Zoloft has a sedating effect on users, and alcohol can worsen this effect. Used together, these drugs have been shown to lead to significant memory impairment and a greater risk of engaging in violent, impulsive behavior.[5] 

Taking these substances together also has the potential to temporarily unbalance serotonin levels, boosting them beyond what is healthy. This can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome, where a person may experience the following:[6]

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle rigidity or twitching
  • Excessive sweating and shivering
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or restlessness

In severe cases, this condition can become life-threatening.

This is all in addition to the important fact that taking Zoloft and alcohol together has the potential to reduce the efficacy of a person’s mental health treatment. If alcohol makes Zoloft less effective in managing symptoms, it likely isn’t worth drinking even if that individual experiences no additional negative side effects.

Speak With Your Doctor Before Using Zoloft & Alcohol

Most medical experts advise against drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft and other antidepressants. However, it’s best practice to talk with your doctor before drinking when on any medication. 

The FDA recommends against mixing these substances, and if you’re unable to stop drinking when advised, it’s likely a sign of a problem. Talk with an addiction treatment professional about your treatment options and the best path forward. We can help—reach out today.

Updated March 7, 2024
  1. Sertraline. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published January 15, 2022. Accessed February 18, 2024.
  2. Can I drink alcohol while taking antidepressants? National Alliance on Mental Illness. Published 2021. Accessed February 18, 2024.
  3. Drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft can cause serious side effects, from seizures to worse depression. Business Insider. Published February 23, 2023. Accessed February 18, 2024.
  4. Alcohol consumption and the use of antidepressants. Graham K, Massak A. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2007;176(5):633-637.
  5. Interaction between antidepressants and alcohol: Signal amplification by multiple case reports. Menkes DB, Herxheimer A. The International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. 2014;26(3):163-170.
  6. Demystifying serotonin syndrome. Foong AL, Grindrod KA, Patel T, Kellar J. Canadian Family Physician Medecin de Famille Canadien. 2018;64(10):720-727.
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