Approximately 86 percent of Americans drink alcohol, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). At the same time, approximately 38 million Zoloft® prescriptions are written per year, and thousands more Americans abuse the drug recreationally. When we look at the enormous populations tied to both substances, it’s only natural that they overlap on some level. It’s important to realize, however, that there are genuine and immediate, and short-term dangers of mixing alcohol and Zoloft. If you or your loved one are drinking and taking Zoloft at the same time, here’s what you need to know about the risks and how to get help if you can’t stop.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft is a prescription antidepressant and the most prescribed drug in its class. The generic form of Zoloft is called sertraline. This medication is what’s known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Some of the main side effects of Zoloft can include nausea, dizziness, lethargy, changes in appetite, joint and muscle pain, dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrhea, and trouble sleeping. When used properly, Zoloft can help promote calmness, stop people from obsessive fixation, and improve mood.
Why Is It Bad to Use Zoloft and Alcohol Together?
Drinking and taking Zoloft can amplify the effects of the medication. This means it can compound drowsiness and tired feeling, lead to incoherent speech, listlessness, and more. Both Zoloft and alcohol increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. In some situations, such as in the case of depression treatment, alcohol can actually lessen the healing effects of Zoloft and make depression symptoms worse. This means that if you chronically drink and take Zoloft, you’re not only limiting the efficacy of your treatment, but you’re also taking two potentially addictive substances simultaneously. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also expressly recommends not drinking while taking Zoloft.
Other dangers of mixing alcohol and Zoloft include, but are not limited to:
- Thoughts of Suicide
- Increased Depression
- Increased Anxiety
- Migraine and Headache
- Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
Both alcohol and Zoloft slow the heart rate, which means if taken together, there is a risk that the combination can slow the heart rate down to the point of stopping. If you or your loved one are unable to stop using alcohol and Zoloft simultaneously, it’s important to get help for both.
Treatment for Zoloft and Alcohol Abuse
Treatment for simultaneous Zoloft and alcohol abuse requires comprehensive medical detox to realign the brain’s chemistry and alleviate your withdrawal symptoms. After that, it’s important to seek behavioral rehab that allows you to not only address the causes and origins of your mental health issue but also your alcohol addiction. Rehab allows you to seek alternative means of mental health care beyond prescription medication and is offered in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you or your loved one get the help you need for your alcohol and Zoloft abuse today. We’re in-network with most major insurance companies and offer all levels of care. Contact us today to start your treatment and recovery.