Sertraline (Zoloft®) and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Dr. Adrian Rawlinson, MD
Medically reviewed by Adrian Rawlinson, MD Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 9/9/2019

From a glass of wine with your dinner to the occasional beer with friends, colleagues or family members, it’s normal to enjoy alcohol from time to time. However, if you use an SSRI such as sertraline (brand name: Zoloft®), you may want to think twice before you pop that next bottle. 

Sertraline is one of several SSRIs used to treat major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other conditions. With millions of prescriptions in the US alone, it’s one of the most widely used SSRIs on the market.

If you like to enjoy the occasional adult beverage and you’ve been prescribed sertraline, you probably have questions about drinking alcohol while you take it. Below, we’ve answered common questions about consuming alcohol while you use sertraline and the health risks it can create.

Spoiler alert: Sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol don’t go together.

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Using Sertraline?

The FDA recommends avoiding alcohol consumption while using sertraline. 

Sertraline is thought to work by increasing the amount of serotonin that’s active in your brain. Alcohol, as a depressant, can affect your body’s serotonin levels and communication between different parts of your brain, potentially worsening sertraline side effects. 

Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft (in which sertraline is the active ingredient), also recommends avoiding alcohol while using sertraline, as the two mixed may cause you to experience an increase in drowsiness.

While mixing alcohol and sertraline isn't a “hard no,” and people on this medication do mix it with alcohol, it's still best to always follow the user guidelines when taking any medication. 

Our point? Avoid alcohol while taking sertraline when possible.

Should I Just Skip My Next Dose of Sertraline so I can Drink Alcohol?

If you use sertraline to treat depression or anxiety-related conditions, you should take it exactly as  your doctor tells you to, which most likely means you shouldn’t skip a dose. In fact, sertraline has been shown to have mild discontinuation syndrome symptoms, which include nausea, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, irritability, etc. 

It’s probably a good idea to avoid all alcoholic beverages if you have depression or anxiety. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can contribute to and worsen many of the most common symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although alcohol may improve your mood in the short term, even just one or two drinks could cause you to feel more depressed than normal. 

At the very least, it is recommended to avoid alcohol while taking sertraline because it may make you feel drowsier than normal.

How to Learn More About Sertraline

In general, it’s best to avoid mixing alcohol and sertraline. If you’re invited to an event that’s likely to involve alcohol, keep taking sertraline as your doctor prescribed and consider skipping the booze and drinking a non-alcoholic beverage instead.

Do you currently use, or are considering using, sertraline? Our Sertraline 101 guide goes into more detail on how sertraline works to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and a variety of other conditions. 

How to Get Help Right Away

If you are — or a loved one is — in distress or struggling with thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, or you just need someone to talk to, there is help available. Call one of the numbers below:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1.800.273.TALK (8255)

  • The 24/7 free hotline has trained crisis counselors who provide confidential support to people in distress.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: Call 1.800.950.NAMI (6264) or text NAMI to 741741
  • The NAMI HelpLine is a free service that provides referral, information, and support to those affected by mental illness.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: Call 1.800.662.HELP (4357)

  • The SAMHSA helpline provides 24/7 free and confidential referrals and information to individuals and their family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.