brown bag asked in HealthMental Health · 1 decade ago

Can anyone tell me SPECIFICALLY why you should not drink alcohol while taking Zoloft?

1rst, yes I know you are not supposed to mix these two through reading the literature. However, I have found very little out there that actually states why. If it is because you don't want to mix an antidepressant with a depressant, exactly what happens when you mix the two. Does it simply make the anti loose it's affect? Or, is the combo actually potentially life-threatening? I'm looking for answers that can actually explain what happens when they mix and identify the "real" (not I heard this or that) potential for bodily/mental harm. I know lots of people want to help on this type of question since most of us have experienced or seen first-hand the effects of mixing drugs or drugs with alcohol, but please only answer if you can offer some real info to the discussion. 90% of answers to questions similar to this one just say, "medication + alcohol = BAD". I understand that and wouldn't even be asking this question if I did'nt. I appreciate any assistance you may offer.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    As you well know, Zoloft (sertraline) is in a class of anti-depressants called serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's).

    I treat a lot of patients with depression, anxiety, and OCD.

    This question has been asked many times.

    The problem is that there are no long term studies that have studied the effects of ethanol with any of the ssri's.

    To cover their asses, the pharmaceutical companies have to put that notation in the literature.

    Theoretically, the reason that you should not mix ethanol with zoloft is that both drugs change the levels of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in your system.

    I usually tell my patients an occasional glass of wine or a beer is not going to hurt them while taking zoloft, however, many people overindulge which can really screw up the balance of neurotransmitters in your central nervous system thus potentiating some of the side effects of zoloft, ie sedation, tremors, headaches, etc.

    The research/medical community still is not sure, thus they have to state that mixing is "not recommended". They do not say that you absolutely cannot and must not drink alcohol while taking zoloft.

    That is about the best answer I can give you at this time. Your statement about mixing them may cause a reduction in the efficacy of the antidepressant is a good one, and may even play a role. We just dont know at this time.

    As far a the mixture being life threatening, you would have to take a large amount of zoloft which can cause something called "serotonin syndrome" which can be lethal. Adding alcohol on top of a large dose of zoloft can be lethal.

    I hope this helped to answer your question and I apologize that I dont have a more definitive answer for you at this time. There just isnt enough data out there to say for sure.


    Warren Shaffer, M.D.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The reason for this warning is because when a person who is taking Zoloft (or other such antidepressant) and then consumes alcohol, the chemical effect is that the Zoloft potentiates, or intensifies, the depressant effect of the the alcohol. That is the reason. The caution is that a person who has consumed, say, 3 beers, will be much more drowzy and less coordinated, etc., than expected due to the amount of alcohol consumed. The effect will be different from person to person and is difficult to predict, hence the warning that it is best to simply not consume alcohol while taking the medication.

    Source(s): I'm a paramedic.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Important information

    You should not use Zoloft if you also take pimozide, or if you are being treated with methylene blue injection.

    Do not use Zoloft if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.

    Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

    Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

    Do not give Zoloft to anyone younger than 18 years old without the advice of a doctor. Zoloft is FDA-approved for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is not approved for treating depression in children.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You answered your own question. Mixing an antidepressant with a depressant, my understanding is that some of the effects (or side effects) can be enhanced. There have been reported cases where people mix the two and have adverse effects. Is drinking really that important to you? If so, maybe you should seek help for that as well.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Mainly because it will increase the sedative effect of the medicine. I would go out on a limb and say a couple of units are unlikely to cause you any real danger, assuming all other factors of health are well.

    Source(s): Pharmacist
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Alcohol may increase the feeling of drowsiness you might experience from the Zoloft. Don't mix them.

    Source(s): ima nurse.
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