What Are the Risks of Combining Alcohol and Sertraline?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2019
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Very little research has been done on the risks of combining alcohol and sertraline, but it is generally not advised. This is because both alcohol and sertraline affect the levels of serotonin within the brain, and taking them together could therefore lead to uncontrollable fluctuations, which in turn can cause unexpected emotions. There is also a risk that sertraline could increase the side effects of drinking alcohol, such as slow reflexes and drowsiness.

Sertaline is a medicine used to treat depression, panic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. The drug is assumed to work by disrupting the brain’s ability to re-take serotonin. Generally, adults suffering from depression are started on a 50 milligram (mg) dose daily, and it can be increased as needed up to a maximum of 200 mg. This is the same for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Patients suffering from a panic disorder should be started on 25 mg. The drug can cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, dyspepsia, insomnia, dry mouth and dizziness.


Combining alcohol and sertraline is assumed to be a bad idea because both of the drugs affect the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for many things within the body, such as sleep, memory and mood, so taking multiple substances that affect the levels of serotonin could have many unexpected outcomes. Studies have shown that people who are depressed or suffer from anxiety are twice as likely to be heavy drinkers. This doesn’t conclusively show that alcohol leads to depression, but it lends weight to that argument. As a result, anyone who is taking anti-depressants should really avoid alcohol anyway, regardless of the drug interaction.

Although these factors do seem to make taking alcohol and sertraline a bad idea, the lack of conclusive research on the subject means that drinking small amounts of alcohol while taking the drug is unlikely to cause problems. People taking sertraline should not drink more than one alcoholic drink a day, defined as 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. Patients considering drinking alcohol while on the medication should discuss the combination of alcohol and sertraline with their doctor.


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Post 3
@ddljohn-- Sertraline and alcohol is not a good combination because the alcohol basically does the opposite of sertraline. They both have affects on the central nervous system. Sertraline has a good affect because it increases serotonin and creates feelings of wellness and happiness. Alcohol, on the other hand, acts as a central nervous system depressant. It makes people feel unhappy, depressed and anxious. So every time you mix alcohol and sertraline, you are undoing the effects of the medication and putting yourself at risk of serious complications. It can be very dangerous, so please stop combining them.

I urge you to speak to your doctor about your treatment and share your concerns. Who knows, may be you don't even need the sertraline any more. Or you can find ways to socialize that does not rely on the use of alcohol. Your health comes first.

Post 2

I've been on sertraline for three years now and have not experienced side effects. My doctor advised me not to drink while I'm on the drug. I did not drink at all for a very long time, but it's tough to constantly avoid social gatherings and I'm tired of explaining why I'm not having a drink with everyone else. So I've been having a glass or two of alcohol about twice a week for the past few month. I haven't experienced any major side effects. Last week, I felt a bit too depressed after a night of drinking but it was gone by the next day. I think I might continue to drink lightly because I'm not coming off of the medication any time soon and I want to have a social life again.

Post 1

I can't even think of drinking while I'm on sertraline because the medication is giving me nausea and upset stomach. I've been taking it for two weeks, and I have nausea every single day. I've been eating bland foods like mashed potatoes and applesauce. If I had any alcohol, I'm sure I would become extremely sick.

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