Zoloft and alcohol the combination is growing

It seems that in this day and age, doctors are handing out anti-depressants more than ever. One of the most common anti-depressants is Zoloft; statistics show that nearly 30 million prescriptions are written every year for this drug. We must ask ourselves, out of these 30 million people, how many of them are consuming alcohol at the same time? Because alcohol and Zoloft are so popular, there needs to be some concern with the possible effects of combining Zoloft and alcohol.

What is Zoloft?

Before beginning to understand what the possible harmful effects of combining Zoloft and alcohol, we must understand what the role of this anti-depressant is. Zoloft is a brand name and is also marketed under other names such as: Asentra, Serlain, Xydep, and Gladem to name a few. These are all brand names for Sertraline hydrochloride. Sertraline is used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but has been prescribed for treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), panic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

They Both Affect the Brain’s Neurotransmitters

The actual purpose of Zoloft is to inhibit the brain’s ability to reabsorb serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends nerve impulses between nerve cells and influences the person’s mood. Alcohol also affects the serotonin levels in the brain. Combining Zoloft and alcohol could not only be dangerous, but potentially produce unexpected and unwanted emotions.


Unfortunately, very little research has been done on the effects of Zoloft and alcohol. There has been a great deal of research on Zoloft alone. There has been a select few studies in which they gave people, who were not depressed, and did not have any disorders, Zoloft and alcohol. The results from these studies showed that when combing the two, alcohol had no effect on Zoloft and vice versa. One must keep in mind, that the people traditionally did not have any problems in the first place. Another study showed that Zoloft alone can increase the risk of suicide, especially in younger people. When alcohol was involved, the risk became greater. Because there is still so little research done on the effects of combining Zoloft and alcohol, we slowly have to learn about the outcomes through real life experiences and situations unfortunately.

Possible Effects

This anti depressant can cause a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to decrease. Some patients have claimed that they feel the urge to drink alcohol when taking Zoloft. Combining Zoloft and alcohol may increase the effects of alcohol at a more rapid rate than when consuming alcohol by itself. There is also a greater risk of feeling drowsy or dizzy and suffering from impaired judgment and coordination. These feelings may happen quickly without any advance warning. Combining the anti depressant with alcohol may also cause headaches, sexual dysfunction, and further depression.


The company that develops Zoloft recommends that the patient does not consume any alcohol while on the medication. However, getting every person to listen to their advice is not possible. It will always come down to the individual’s choice. As always, it is important to try to educate oneself with knowledge that could potentially save their life or someone else’s life. Because Zoloft and other types of anti depressants are only increasing in popularity, hopefully more studies will be conducted on the possible effects that alcohol has on these drugs. It is only with this sort of research that better evidence of the potential effects can be provided.

It is important to note that Zoloft is very addicting and has some serious side effects as well as painful withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol is no different.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

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