Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol: Is It Dangerous?

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a brand-name antidepressant which is commonly prescribed to treat mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Zoloft works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which helps improve mood and reduce symptoms of mental illness.

When combined with alcohol however, this medication can cause a variety of dangerous reactions including increased drowsiness, confusion, nausea and vomiting. The severity of these side effects will depend on how much alcohol is consumed and how long the patient has been taking antidepressants.

The most common antidepressant medications that are taken by patients who also drink alcohol include tricyclic and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include drugs such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Paxil. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) work by blocking the reuptake of both norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. This allows them to increase levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain and improve symptoms of depression. TCAs are also used to treat anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain.

SSRIs on the other hand increase serotonin levels in the brain, which is what helps reduce symptoms of depression. They have become a popular choice among patients due to their effectiveness and lower side effects compared to TCAs. However, it has been shown that these medications can cause severe drowsiness when combined with alcohol. This can lead to decreased reaction time, impaired judgment and increased risk of accidents.

Side Effects of Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol

The side effects that are caused by mixing antidepressants such as Zoloft with alcohol can vary from patient to patient depending on the medication they are taking, how much they drink and how long they have been using them. For example, a person who has been using Paxil for several months may experience more severe side effects than someone who only drinks occasionally and starts taking Zoloft one week before drinking. The following are some common side effects that patients may experience when taking these medications:

  • You may feel more depressed or anxious. 
    Drinking can counteract the benefits of your antidepressant medication, making your symptoms more difficult to treat. Alcohol may seem to improve your mood in the short term, but its overall effect increases symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Side effects may be worse if you also take another medication. 
    Many medications can cause problems when taken with alcohol — including anti-anxiety medications, sleep medications and prescription pain medications. Side effects may worsen if you drink alcohol and take one of these drugs along with an antidepressant.
  • You may be at risk of a dangerous reaction if you take MAOIs. 
    When combined with certain types of alcoholic beverages and foods, antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure. If you take an MAOI, be sure you know what’s safe to eat and drink, and which alcoholic beverages are likely to cause a reaction.
  • Your thinking and alertness may be impaired. 
    The combination of antidepressants and alcohol will affect your judgment, coordination, motor skills and reaction time more than alcohol alone. Some combinations may make you sleepy. This can impair your ability to drive or do other tasks that require focus and attention.
  • You may become sedated or feel drowsy. 
    A few antidepressants cause sedation and drowsiness, and so does alcohol. When taken together, the combined effect can be intensified[1].

Signs and Symptoms of Zoloft Withdrawal

It’s important to note that you should never stop taking your antidepressants just so that you can drink. Skipping doses of Zoloft or any medication can make them less effective for your depression or anxiety. Suddenly stopping Zoloft can cause withdrawal symptoms that you may not want to happen. Withdrawal symptoms may occur a few days after you stop taking the medication and can include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Electric shock-like sensations
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seizures[2]

When stopping antidepressants, some symptoms may persist for up to six weeks and occasionally may continue for up to a year. You should always talk to your healthcare provider first before you stop taking Zoloft so that you can gradually be tapered off the medication under proper supervision.

Can One Alcoholic Beverage with Zoloft Put Me In Danger?

If you take Zoloft, it’s not likely that one serving of alcohol will be life-threatening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examples of one serving of alcohol include a 12-ounce beer (5% alcohol-by-volume or ABV), a 5-ounce glass of wine (12% ABV), or 1.5 ounces of liquor (40% ABV).

However, the problem is that having one alcoholic beverage can lead to more. Drinking alcohol is known to impair your judgment and may lead to choices that you wouldn’t make if you were sober. Since the dangers of mixing alcohol and Zoloft are very serious, don’t take the chance to put yourself in a potentially harmful situation. Stick to the rule of simply no amount of alcohol is safe to consume while on Zoloft.

There’s Help If You’re Struggling If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, Coastal Detox provides clients with a state-licensed, accredited medical detoxification facility staffed by nurses, doctors, therapists, and technicians trained in addiction detox and treatment. Additionally, we provide a holistic treatment approach to detox (the first step in recovery) followed by an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs. Do not let fear stop you from reclaiming your life. Contact Coastal Detox today and let us help you on your journey to recovery.


[1] Antidepressants and Alcohol: What’s the Concern? Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/antidepressants-and-alcohol/faq-20058231

[2] Pfizer https://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=517&section=MedGuide#:~:text=Stopping%20ZOLOFT%20too%20quickly%20may,%2Dlike%20sensations%2C%20shaking%2C%20confusion

Connor Barton
Connor Barton
The staff here is amazing. Caring and attentive. I finally kicked the sticks and couldn’t be happier.
Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

No products in the cart.