If you’re wondering whether you should mix the antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) and alcohol, the drug’s medication guide provides a clear answer when it states: “Do not drink alcohol while using Zoloft.”
Although you may not favor teetotalism, it’s important that you understand mixing alcohol and Zoloft presents certain health risks. Those risks, along with what you should do if abstinence is not a reasonable option, are described in greater detail below.
Potential Results of Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol
Sertraline and alcohol, while they’re very different drugs, can nonetheless produce similar effects on the body. This can not only result in Zoloft not working properly, but also enhance some of the possible negative side effects that these two substances share.
Zoloft helps improve mood in patients with depression by regulating serotonin (a brain chemical that affects feelings of well being). Alcohol, however, can cause serotonin levels to drop below pre-drinking levels, which may interfere with Zoloft’s ability to regulate the brain chemical. As a result, a patient might actually experience heightened depression as well as emotional instability when they combine Zoloft with alcohol.
Pfizer recommends that patients avoid drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft because sertaline, like beer, wine, and liquor, can cause drowsiness and negatively impact decision making and one’s ability to operate heavy machinery. Combining these substances, then, can lead to an intensification of alcohol’s effects on the body, potentially resulting in dizziness, blackouts, headaches, sedation, clouded judgment, shaking, sexual dysfunction, and more. Put simply, Zoloft can make one drink feel like several.
If You Drink While On Zoloft, Do So Moderately
Despite alcohol being contraindicated with Zoloft, giving up beer, wine, and liquor altogether may not be a realistic scenario. Medical professionals understand this, and in lieu of alcohol abstinence, will typically recommend moderate alcohol use when the occasion to drink arises.
Moderate drinking means 1 drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men (a drink being 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1-1.5 ounces of spirits). But be sure to speak with your health care provider, who understands your condition best, before consuming any amount of alcohol with Zoloft.
Your doctor might, in fact, recommend that you abstain from alcohol, especially if you have a predisposition towards substance abuse. One reason for this is that some patients have reported increased cravings for alcohol while on Zoloft. Although the evidence for this is primarily anecdotal, science does support the concept that increased serotonin levels (the result of Zoloft) causes alcohol cravings. It has also been theorized that sertraline induces cravings by affecting the area of the brain that controls addiction. Yet another idea posits that Zoloft, by lowering blood sugar levels, creates a desire for alcohol (which, when consumed, initially raises blood sugar levels).
Discuss Zoloft Complications With a Lawyer
A Zoloft alcohol injury is most likely not grounds for a lawsuit against Pfizer, as the company explicitly states that the two substances should not be combined. But several actionable side effects, including birth defects, are linked to Zoloft. To find out whether you might qualify for compensation from Pfizer, speak with an experienced lawyer from the Rottenstein Law Group by filling out this form or calling.
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