Mixing alcohol with a number of other drugs produces an intensified effect that some people seek out purposely. However, the combination often results in a dangerous mix that can lead to a number of threatening side effects. Because so many medications react poorly with alcohol, it’s important to stay aware of these bad combinations. The mixture of alcohol and Zoloft, an antidepressant, produces a negative reaction that can become deadly.
Zoloft: The Basics
Sertraline is the name of a prescription antidepressant. Usually sold under the brand name Zoloft, it falls under the classification of SSRIs, and doctors often recommend it to treat a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Panic Attacks
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Zoloft is particularly effective in patients suffering from depression and its symptoms. While the drug’s main purpose is to improve an individual’s mood, energy, and appreciation for life, it can also cause a few side effects. Fortunately, the side effects are usually fairly mild:
- Decreased Libido
The family of drugs that Zoloft belongs to, SSRIs, show promising results in helping individuals who suffer from melancholic depression, when compared to Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs). At the same time, TCAs were observed to be more effective in helping patients who suffered from severe depression. So, while Zoloft and similar drugs are effective at treating some forms of depression, some cases may require the aid of a different kind of medication.
How Does Zoloft Work?
Zoloft and SSRIs are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Effectively, this means that SSRI antidepressants work by slowing the brain’s process of absorbing serotonin. As a result, people experience serotonin’s mood-boosting effects for longer. Since serotonin is largely responsible for the brain feeling happy or satisfied, it helps the patient stay in a more positive mood. Zoloft is just one of many medications that classify as SSRIs: Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Pexeva all work in similar ways.
What is Zoloft’s Half Life?
The term “half-life” refers to the period of time it takes for a given substance to halve. In this case, half-life effectively means “how long until 50% of the substance is gone?” If a given substance has a half-life of 2 days, then it would take a person roughly two days for their body to remove half of the substance. Then in another two days, only a quarter of the original amount is left. This continues over and over again until the substance is entirely gone from the patient’s body.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) determined Zoloft’s half life to be just over a full day: 25-26 hours. If an individual took a small dose of 10mg of Zoloft, then about 25 hours later, there would be 5mg of Zoloft left in that patient’s body. Since a common dose size of Zoloft is 50mg, the medication is likely to be entirely gone about a week after a single dose.
Can Zoloft be Addictive?
Most drugs’ potential for abuse and addiction can be gauged based on whether or not they classify as controlled substances under the Drug Enforcement Agency. Zoloft and SSRIs in general do not classify as controlled substances, meaning that Zoloft and medications like it are less likely than others to have addictive potential.
While the drug isn’t strictly classified as a narcotic, patients who take Zoloft for long periods of time sometimes experience withdrawal symptoms:
- Tingling/prickling skin (paresthesias)
These side effects, while generally unpleasant, can usually be avoided by speaking to a medical professional before deciding to stop taking Zoloft.
If you would like to stop taking Zoloft, speak to your doctor before doing so. Stopping abruptly can result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, so it is important to stop slowly with a doctor’s instruction.
How Does Alcohol Mix With Zoloft?
Zoloft by itself is usually harmless. By following a prescription, and being aware of the side effects of Zoloft, patients can know what to expect from taking Zoloft. However, mixing Zoloft with other substances or medications can cause complications or dangers. One of the most commonly mixed substances with Zoloft is alcohol, and the combination can be extremely dangerous.
The main danger from mixing Zoloft and Alcohol comes from both sets of side effects mixing at the same time. The side effects from Zoloft and the side effects from alcohol compound each other. Some of the more threatening effects include:
- Decreased Heart Rate
- Suicidal Thoughts
Since Zoloft and alcohol produce similar effects in the body, together they create dangerously strong side effects. The Federal Drug Agency (FDA) has advised against consuming alcohol while taking Zoloft.
One more thing to consider when observing the two is their drug classifications: Zoloft is an antidepressant, while alcohol is a depressant. Zoloft works toward stopping the symptoms of depression, while alcohol works toward depressing the central nervous system. Having both of these substances working at the same time isn’t only counteractive, it’s also dangerous.
If you think you or a loved one is struggling with any kind of addiction, feel free to contact us today. Our staff will be more than welcome to answer questions you may have. Taking steps toward recovery is important, and lifelong sobriety isn’t impossible, especially with help.