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Sertraline and Alcohol: Understanding Depression and Addiction

Sertraline is the generic equivalent of Zoloft. It is an antidepressant that regulates serotonin levels in the brain. They are also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that improves a person’s emotional stability and mood regulation. These medications are effective in managing symptoms of depression. 

However, as psychoactive medications, they come with risks if not taken as prescribed. Alcohol use can particularly cause dangerous risks. Both antidepressants have a high potential for abuse and are highly reported for substance use disorder.

People with other mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are susceptible to these risks. Learning about the harms and early signs of addiction can prevent the drastic consequences of multiple drug abuse. 

What is Sertraline (Zoloft)?

Zoloft is the brand name of the drug sertraline. It belongs to the drug class selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). They are a group of antidepressants with a safe drug profile compared to other antidepressants. SSRIs like Zoloft are the first line of treatment for major depressive disorder.

They are used to manage and treat the following conditions: 

  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Other off-label indications for which Zoloft is prescribed are eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and bulimia. It acts by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain through inhibitory effects. It blocks serotonin reuptake, which results in its accumulation. This neurotransmitter is responsible for regulating mood, personality, and wakefulness. 

It is available in the following formulations:

  1. 25 / 50 / 100 mg tablet
  2. 150  200 mg capsule
  3. 20 mg/ ml solution

It is usually given between 50 mg and 200 mg daily. The dose is gradually increased until the maximum effective dose is achieved. However, tolerance can develop, requiring an increase in dose to maintain its effects. In consequence, harmful effects may arise without proper monitoring and dosage adjustment.

What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants? 

SSRIs are a newer class of antidepressants that are the primary choice of treatment for depression. It is better tolerated and has less reported side effects. Nevertheless, as a drug that acts on the brain, it should be taken with precaution. 

Inform your doctor if you experience the following side effects:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremor
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual impairment

While using Zoloft, other complications may occur with other medications, conditions, or due to susceptible risk. It can have interactions with other drugs, especially ones associated with other medications that affect the brain.

You may develop a serotonin syndrome if taken with other antidepressants that influence serotonin levels.

Another side effect most antidepressant medications have is an increased risk of suicidal thoughts for patients with major depression.

Changes in behaviors, anxiety, or aggravating psychiatric conditions should be immediately reported. Regular monitoring of side effects and dosage of Zoloft is essential to avoid harmful consequences.  

Can you Take Zoloft and Alcohol together? 

Alcohol cannot be taken with antidepressants or any psychoactive drugs. Several medicines have a warning on their label about the interaction of alcohol with prescription drugs. Since both alcohol and Zoloft can cause dependence, they can lead to irreparable harm. However, some people might say that they can drink small amounts of alcohol just fine.

Regardless, they may not notice the effects of alcohol in their body and do not count for its long-term consequences. Doctors believe you will experience cognitive impairment if you mix alcohol with drugs like Zoloft. 

Yet, alcohol on its own should be consumed with caution. Alcohol consumption is a leading factor in more than 200 diseases, injuries, and poor quality of life. Drinking alcohol in itself can take a toll on your health. It affects the brain’s chemical levels and how it works. A person’s mood, behavior, cognition, and lifestyle can drastically change.

According to the World Health Organization, 13.5% of the total deaths are attributed to alcohol in people between 20 to 39 years old. Overall, 5.1% of the global burden of diseases and injuries leading to disabilities is attributed to drinking alcohol. 

What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Zoloft? 

There are concerning side effects of alcohol on a person taking antidepressants. The interaction between these substances is dangerous. On top of this, a person with depression or other mental health conditions should avoid alcohol even if they aren’t taking other medications. 

Worsened Zoloft and Alcohol Side Effects

Zoloft and alcohol can increase the serotonin in the brain. Serotonin syndrome is one life-threatening side effect that should be monitored.

Taking alcohol and Zoloft will cause worsened side effects such as oversedation, cognitive issues, hallucinations, suicidal behavior, and fatal overdose, which have serious adverse effects that can occur. Long-term use will also increase your risk of liver, heart, and brain damage.  

Worsening of depression

Alcohol will reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants. Since it affects the brain’s chemical levels, Zoloft won’t be able to regulate serotonin in the brain properly. More importantly, alcohol will worsen symptoms of depression. As a central nervous system depressant, it counteracts the effects of Zoloft. Watch out for signs of suicidal behaviors or self-harm. 

Zoloft and Alcohol Addiction

Mixing Zoloft and alcohol can exacerbate the potential threat of addiction. Their combination will increase complications of symptoms and treatment. Moreover, people with depression or anxiety are prone to drinking. Eventually, developing an addiction to multiple substances. 

Zoloft with Alcohol Causes Worse Withdrawals

Once a person develops a dependence on one or the other, they will experience withdrawal symptoms due to dependency. Their combined symptoms are more complicated to manage. 

Increased Risk of Overdose if You Drink While Taking Zoloft

If you develop an addiction to multiple substances, you are at higher risk of emergency visits or fatal overdose. An overdose of Zoloft may result in serotonin syndrome. Supportive care and drug detox are recommended to ease any symptoms. However, more serious symptoms may arise with severe toxicity.  

Symptoms of Zoloft overdose: 

  • Muscle rigidity
  • Hyperthermia up to 41 degrees Celsius
  • Tremors
  • Agitated delirium 

What are the Effects of Alcohol on depression?

Alcohol consumption is common in people with people who have unhealthy coping mechanisms due to severe stress and trauma. You will find people struggling with depression to self-medicate with alcohol or in combination with other illicit drugs. Alcohol suppresses the parts of your brain for logical thinking and reasoning.

Heavy drinking can send you into a downward spiral to deeper into depression. Even if you take antidepressants, these medications will become ineffective and only cause harmful interactions with alcohol. 

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are a large concern with depression, which alcohol can influence. You may also be at risk of developing alcohol abuse if you drink too often due to depression. It becomes an escape, and a person with depression will start depending on the “buzz” alcohol provides.

In addition, alcohol will prevent you from developing a healthy sleeping schedule. Alcohol may make you rely on it for sleep if you have symptoms of insomnia with your depression. However, your body clock will not function well if you consume too much alcohol regularly.

Eventually, chronic alcohol use can only give way to developing more psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, manic disorder, or alcohol-induced psychosis.  

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

A person who has developed an alcohol use disorder is on the path to lifestyle diseases and poor life choices. Disability due to chronic diseases precipitated by bad habits or vices is a growing public health concern.

Alcohol use is one of the leading causes of these risks. Being aware of the effects of alcohol with other medications and depression can prevent these harms. 

If you are taking antidepressants with proper monitoring and precaution, it can offer great relief for your condition. However, immediately seek proper treatment if you notice any signs of side effects or misuse.

There are various treatments available for alcohol and drug dependence. You may seek therapy or 24/7 support at a rehab center. 

Addiction Treatment Programs

You can find different treatment options for addiction suited to your needs. At Luxe Recovery, we will help you choose a treatment program that can best serve your needs. After properly assessing your condition/s and its severity, a comprehensive treatment is personalized for every individual. The first step in recovery is to abstain from substances through alcohol detox or drug detox. 

The following are treatment programs available: 

  • Residential treatment programs – They can provide around-the-clock support and are best suited for a severe addiction. The risk of relapse is greatly reduced with proper medical supervision.
  • Intensive outpatient program – With proper assessment, a person can choose an intensive outpatient program for mild addiction. These patients can continue their daily lives at home and obtain medical support and therapy sessions.
  • Dual diagnosis – If you have depression and are struggling with substance use disorder, you can choose to have treatment for addiction and your mental health. This treatment can reduce the possibility of relapse.

If you require guidance or information on substance treatment, please contact us today. We will gladly answer any questions or concerns you may have and provide you with treatment options. You are under no obligation, and all queries will be treated with the strictest confidence. 

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