Monday September 15th 2014

Zoloft and alcohol

Zoloft, alcohol and food interactions

Certain foods and beverages such as alcohol can interact with medicines and make them less effective, cause dangerous side effects or other problems. This is true for Zoloft, as well. In fact, changes in the effects of Zoloft due to alcohol intake can be significant. However, other individual factors influence personal variations of effect such as:

    age
    dose
    gender
    general health
    weight

As a rule, food increases absorption of Zoloft, so you should take Zoloft consistently (either always with food or always on empty stomach) to reduce variations in absorption. Additionally, grapefruit juice can increase the quantities of some medications such as Zoloft in your body, leading to adverse effects. So, avoid grapefruit juice when taking Zoloft.

Is it safe to take Zoloft and drink?

Experts can’t seem to agree on this question, and prefer to take it on a case-by-case basis. This is why most people will tell you to talk with your Zoloft prescribing doctor.

However, you should know that alcohol has not been found to significantly interact with Zoloft/setraline to affect mental or motor skills. Simply put, experiments have not proven that the Zoloft increases the mental and motor skill impairments caused by alcohol. Nonetheless, the use of ZOLOFT and alcohol at the same time is not advised. Why? Two main reasons:

1. Benefits decrease while adverse effects increase

The first reason to avoid drinking alcohol or while you are taking antidepressant medications like Zoloft is because the beneficial effects of the medication may be decreased and adverse effects may be increased (ex. sedation). so even though Zoloft has not clinically increased the likelihood of lowered cognitive and psychomotor skills, the risk is present. Avoid alcohol on Zoloft, and avoid unnecessary bad judgment or accidents.

2. Alcohol is not good for depression

Which leads us to the main reason that physicians and pharmacists advise that people who are on Zoloft avoid alcohol. The logic is that people who are depressed should not drink alcohol. Rather straightforward, alcohol can increase symptoms of depression. And if you are taking Zoloft for depression, you may be cancelling out the positive effects of the anti-depressant by drinking. This is also why experts suggest that you avoid kava kava or valerian while taking Zoloft.

Zoloft and Antabuse

As an aside here, Zoloft (setraline) comes in oral concentrate form , and has as an inactive ingredient 12% alcohol content. Therefore, Zoloft oral concentrate is contraindicated with Antabuse (disulfiram) due to the alcohol content of the concentrate.

Questions about Zoloft

In summary, ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while you are taking sertraline. Do you have a question about taking or using Zoloft? Please leave your questions here and we’ll do our best to field them. Or, if you are taking Zoloft and want to comment on the experience of drinking alcohol on Zoloft, please let us know. We welcome all comments.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the ideas presented here should not replace the advice from your doctor or pharmacist. If you have any questions or concerns about possible drug interactions between Zoloft and alcohol, consult a medical professional.

Reference sources:
Zoloft medication guide from the FDA
Sertraline American Society of Health-System Pharmacists encyclopedia entry on sertraline
Department of Health and Human Services, State of Maine Drug Guide

Photo credit: Stuck in Customs

Leave a Reply

9 Responses to “Zoloft and alcohol
Maude
7:40 pm August 14th, 2011

I tried drinking while on Sertraline once, I would strongly advice against it, I got really depressed the following days. It was like the effect of the Sertraline was gone for 3-4 days or so, after drinking.

Byron
1:39 pm February 24th, 2012

Please do not drink alcohol while taking Zoloft, or any other anti-anxiety, anti-depressant drug, since in my case it significantly increased my desire to drink alcoholically!! BEWARE!

Jill
4:28 am March 12th, 2012

Before I started taking Zoloft on a regular basis, I would consider myself a social drinker. I was always sure not to drink more than I could handle and would rarely experience hang-overs and had never experienced any black outs. When I combined the use of Zoloft with social drinking I have found that I am susceptible to black outs and uninhibited behaviors I had never done before. Therefore I recommend that people who take Zoloft and drink be extremely cautious when doing so until you know how your body reacts to it.

5:10 am March 12th, 2012

Thanks for sharing all about your experiences with Zoloft and alcohol. I hope that what each of you has experienced can help someone else think about drinking while on Zoloft. I wonder if your doctors or pharmacists warned you about the possible interactions or if you were left to discover this on your own?

Moss
2:48 pm April 2nd, 2012

As a seasoned alcoholic, I noticed that it caused me to blackout much more frequently. I would blackout and then continue to drink and talk with bar patrons until the bar shut down, wander through bad neighborhoods, take the Red Line home (Chicago), and come to sitting upright on my sofa with Doritos crumbs on my chest. Not an optimal lifestyle. Bourbon is the primary culprit, but the Zoloft didn’t help.

6:38 pm April 2nd, 2012

Hi Moss. Thanks for sharing about your experiences drinking while on Zoloft. Blackouts are very frightening, at least in my experience they were. It is amazing that the brain continues to function, but that memory processing stops. I truly believe that someone or something was looking out for me during my drinking days!

Jan
2:31 am June 14th, 2013

I have been on 1/4 tsp setraline at bedtime for just 4 nights. I take .50 Xanax as needed, usually 1.50 mg within 24 hours. The last two days I have been MORE anxious, upon awakening and during the day. I also take 30 mg temazepam for sleep.
Could it be that the Zoloft is increasing my anxiety?
Jan

11:59 am June 15th, 2013

Hello Jan. I’d suggest that you speak with your prescribing doctor. This is really a question that requires medical advice and experience.

blubells
12:23 pm July 1st, 2013

I have no trouble drinking alchol I’m on 100mg zoloft

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