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Alcohol and Health

Do Sertraline (Zoloft) and Alcohol Mix?

Published:
June 21, 2023
·
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 21, 2023
·
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 21, 2023
·
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 21, 2023
·
8 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
June 21, 2023
·
8 min read

Picture this: it's Friday night, and we're hanging out with friends, the air buzzing with laughter and conversation. We’re holding a cool glass, containing a drink we've been eagerly anticipating all week.

Yet, for some of us, there's a subtle tension beneath the cheer. We've started taking a common antidepressant, sertraline (Zoloft) — but how might it interact with our Friday night ritual in our favorite company?

This article explores how sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol intermix — or don’t — and whether it’s a good idea to drink while you’re on it.

Understanding the Science of Alcohol and Sertraline

First, let's delve into the science behind alcohol and sertraline.

Alcohol is a depressant: it slows down our brain's functioning and communication between neurotransmitters. Sertraline, on the other hand, is an antidepressant in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) family. It's designed to increase the levels of serotonin — a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation — in our brain.

When we mix alcohol and sertraline, we're essentially pushing our brain in opposite directions, creating a tug of war between the depressive effects of alcohol and the elevating impact of sertraline.

This can lead to some unpredictable reactions:

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Heightened depression
  • Increased anxiety

Additionally, alcohol can gradually diminish the effectiveness of the antidepressant.

Identifying the Symptoms

Research suggests a genetic component to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Many of us with a family history and genetic link to AUD also struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety — for which sertraline is often prescribed.

Consequently, it's not uncommon for some of us to be in a situation where we're drinking and taking sertraline (Zoloft) simultaneously.

Recognizing the warning signs is the first step towards change. We may notice that we're drinking more frequently, our tolerance to alcohol has increased, or we're experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we try to stop.

When combined with sertraline, we might see an escalation in side effects of either drug. None of these sound pleasant, and some are downright dangerous:

  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, please get help now. A crisis hotline provides trained counselors who can walk you through it. If you need immediate help, here’s where to start:

These symptoms can signal that our brain is having a difficult time balancing the combined effects of alcohol and sertraline (Zoloft). While sertraline (Zoloft) can cause drowsiness at any dose, those of us with doses above 100 milligrams (mg) run a higher risk.

What’s more, there isn’t a lot of research on the combined effects of sertraline and alcohol — all the more reason to avoid it. The Food & Drug Administration recommends you never mix the two.

Steps Towards Healthier Habits

  1. Reckoning. Accepting that there's an issue is the cornerstone of change. We need to be honest with ourselves about our drinking habits and their impact on our lives.
  2. Seeking professional help. Reach out to healthcare professionals for advice. They can provide us with scientifically-backed strategies and can adjust our medication if necessary.
  3. Learning. Becoming more knowledgeable about the science behind our actions can empower us to make informed decisions. For instance, knowing how alcohol and sertraline affect our brain can influence our choice to avoid mixing them.
  4. Finding better ways to cope. Develop healthier ways to manage stress, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies.
  5. Getting support. Sharing our experiences with trusted friends or family can help more than we might expect. Loved ones can provide encouragement, understanding, and a gentle nudge when we need it. Reframe can plug you into an immediate community of people who are on a similar path.
  6. Locating a sober-friendly environment. If we feel tempted in a bar, then limiting our exposure to environments where drinking is prevalent (at least when we first start changing our relationship to alcohol) can be a good way to stick to our decision.
  7. Setting goals. Creating clear, achievable goals can provide a path forward. Start small, such as limiting which days you drink or how many drinks you’ll have in a night.

As we strive to navigate the complexities of mixing sertraline and alcohol, let's remember that seeking help and understanding our own bodies is a sign of strength. There’s no reason to go it alone!

Take Control and Thrive With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Picture this: it's Friday night, and we're hanging out with friends, the air buzzing with laughter and conversation. We’re holding a cool glass, containing a drink we've been eagerly anticipating all week.

Yet, for some of us, there's a subtle tension beneath the cheer. We've started taking a common antidepressant, sertraline (Zoloft) — but how might it interact with our Friday night ritual in our favorite company?

This article explores how sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol intermix — or don’t — and whether it’s a good idea to drink while you’re on it.

Understanding the Science of Alcohol and Sertraline

First, let's delve into the science behind alcohol and sertraline.

Alcohol is a depressant: it slows down our brain's functioning and communication between neurotransmitters. Sertraline, on the other hand, is an antidepressant in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) family. It's designed to increase the levels of serotonin — a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation — in our brain.

When we mix alcohol and sertraline, we're essentially pushing our brain in opposite directions, creating a tug of war between the depressive effects of alcohol and the elevating impact of sertraline.

This can lead to some unpredictable reactions:

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Heightened depression
  • Increased anxiety

Additionally, alcohol can gradually diminish the effectiveness of the antidepressant.

Identifying the Symptoms

Research suggests a genetic component to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Many of us with a family history and genetic link to AUD also struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety — for which sertraline is often prescribed.

Consequently, it's not uncommon for some of us to be in a situation where we're drinking and taking sertraline (Zoloft) simultaneously.

Recognizing the warning signs is the first step towards change. We may notice that we're drinking more frequently, our tolerance to alcohol has increased, or we're experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we try to stop.

When combined with sertraline, we might see an escalation in side effects of either drug. None of these sound pleasant, and some are downright dangerous:

  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are experiencing suicidal ideation, please get help now. A crisis hotline provides trained counselors who can walk you through it. If you need immediate help, here’s where to start:

These symptoms can signal that our brain is having a difficult time balancing the combined effects of alcohol and sertraline (Zoloft). While sertraline (Zoloft) can cause drowsiness at any dose, those of us with doses above 100 milligrams (mg) run a higher risk.

What’s more, there isn’t a lot of research on the combined effects of sertraline and alcohol — all the more reason to avoid it. The Food & Drug Administration recommends you never mix the two.

Steps Towards Healthier Habits

  1. Reckoning. Accepting that there's an issue is the cornerstone of change. We need to be honest with ourselves about our drinking habits and their impact on our lives.
  2. Seeking professional help. Reach out to healthcare professionals for advice. They can provide us with scientifically-backed strategies and can adjust our medication if necessary.
  3. Learning. Becoming more knowledgeable about the science behind our actions can empower us to make informed decisions. For instance, knowing how alcohol and sertraline affect our brain can influence our choice to avoid mixing them.
  4. Finding better ways to cope. Develop healthier ways to manage stress, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies.
  5. Getting support. Sharing our experiences with trusted friends or family can help more than we might expect. Loved ones can provide encouragement, understanding, and a gentle nudge when we need it. Reframe can plug you into an immediate community of people who are on a similar path.
  6. Locating a sober-friendly environment. If we feel tempted in a bar, then limiting our exposure to environments where drinking is prevalent (at least when we first start changing our relationship to alcohol) can be a good way to stick to our decision.
  7. Setting goals. Creating clear, achievable goals can provide a path forward. Start small, such as limiting which days you drink or how many drinks you’ll have in a night.

As we strive to navigate the complexities of mixing sertraline and alcohol, let's remember that seeking help and understanding our own bodies is a sign of strength. There’s no reason to go it alone!

Take Control and Thrive With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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