Zoloft and Alcohol

Alcohol and Zoloft
Mixing Zoloft and alcohol is not recommended

Zoloft and alcohol

According to Zoloft's official website, a combination of Zoloft and alcohol "has not been shown in experiments with normal subjects to increase mental and motor skill impairments".

However, drinking alcohol while taking Zoloft or any other antidepressant is not advised due to the inconsistent and complex chemical reactions of brain neurotransmitters and ethanol, the psychoactive substance found in alcohol.

In addition to provoking the familiar "drunken" behaviors exhibited by individuals who are drunk, ethanol also modifies production of neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, which directly influence thoughts, emotions and behaviors. By distorting Zoloft's influence on an individual's thinking processes, alcohol could cause extreme behaviors to manifest themselves that otherwise would not be seen.

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Also referred to by its generic name Sertraline, doctors frequently prescribe Zoloft to alleviate symptoms of:

  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Phobias

As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Zoloft effectively retains sufficient amounts of serotonin in the brain rather than allow receptors to essentially inhibit serotonin from circulating throughout the brain. This continuous, rich supply of serotonin regulates mood as well as sleep, appetite and sexual drive.

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Causes of Serotonin Imbalance

Researchers have yet to discover the cause of serotonin imbalance or other neurotransmitter imbalances occurring in the brain. However, results of studies have indicated that several factors play important roles in why an individual may suffer from depression and anxiety.

Individual environmental, behavioral and cognitive reactions to life experiences seem to affect neurotransmitter actions, as well as the development or underdevelopment of coping skills.

Studies investigating the interaction of Zoloft and alcohol have revealed no pertinent or statistically significant results.

However, empirical observations of individuals who take Zoloft and drink alcohol suggest that people who drink while taking this antidepressant experience:

  • Intensification of alcohol's effects on psycho-motor functions
  • Aggressiveness
  • Increased depression and possible suicidal ideation
  • Exaggerated impulsiveness
  • Blackouts, if enough alcohol and Zoloft are ingested

For chronic alcoholics who are recovering but suffer from sustained liver damage, having a less than optimally functioning liver may inhibit elimination of Zoloft which could cause subsequent toxic levels of Zoloft to accumulate in the body.

Individuals with impaired liver functioning usually need to take lower than normal doses of Zoloft while continuing to be monitored by their physician.

According to Suzanne LeVert, author of the book The Facts about Antidepressants (2006), alcohol appears to stimulate protein compounds that facilitate the breakdown of Zoloft in the bloodstream. This means that levels of Zoloft in the body are significantly lower than the prescribed level, which may possible worsen depression and anxiety symptoms.

The Central Nervous System, Zoloft and Alcohol

Alcohol, unlike Zoloft, depresses neurochemical processes in the brain which control thinking, muscle control and metabolism. Pharmacological medications often interact with ethanol which detrimentally exaggerate or minimize desired effects of the medication.

Drinking often exacerbates depression by temporarily anesthetizing neuronal activity in the brain. Once the effect wears off, the depression still exists and may even worsen, causing the person to reach for the bottle again.

Zoloft is meant to relieve depression, anxiety and other symptoms of serotonin imbalance.

When Zoloft and alcohol confront each other in the brain, the negation of each other's impact on someone's behavior and thoughts struggles to occur with possibly unfavorable results. While Zoloft wants to elevate your mood, alcohol wants to bring it down. This unhealthy interaction could create extreme behaviors resulting in physical injury.

Zoloft, as well as other antidepressants, should never be discontinued because someone feels the need to drink. Abruptly stopping Zoloft usually causes depression and anxiety to worsen. Obsessive compulsive behavior will become more rigid as well.

If you are having trouble abstaining from alcohol while taking Zoloft to control a psychological disorder, you could schedule a free consultation with Deborah Morrow, The Alcoholism Guides counselor.

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