Summary: Don’t take sertraline with alcohol. While sertraline doesn’t make the mental and motor skills of alcohol consumption worse, those studies were done in healthy subjects – not people with depression. Plus, alcohol is a known depressant. Not a good idea if you are being treated for depression.
Dear Curtis: I know this seems like an odd question but I take sertraline and I’m not really a drinker. But I do like to have a glass or two of beer once in a while. What’s the worry with taking sertraline and alcohol together. Will it make my sertraline less effective? If so, I’ll definitely stay away from it. Or, is it some other concern?
Well, there’s a couple of stances on the issue.
Understandably the drug companies frown upon using sertraline with alcohol. From a liability standpoint they have to say this.
However, if you look at the fine print the clinical trials showed that experiments in healthy patients sertraline did not show the ability to increase mental and motor skill impairments that you can get from alcohol.
So, it’s okay to just have a drink or two with your sertraline, right?
Not so fast.
Notice that the clinical trials were done in healthy patients?
And that’s really the kicker.
Depression Is Serious
I really stress to patients that if you are being treated with a drug like sertraline, which is a powerful antidepressant, it means that your doctor (and you) are concerned about your disease and want to treat it aggressively.
So, first and foremost, you need to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of improving. And, in sertraline’s case, that means avoiding alcohol completely.
And, just so you know, I have the occasional drink as well. So I’m not down on alcohol at all. But it’s not for everyone – especially folks who are being treated for depression. Speaking of which …
Problems With Alcohol Itself
There’s also another issue that you need to think about. You’re probably well aware that alcohol introduces another problem into the mix: it’s a known depressant.
Now, when I explain it this way people either get defensive or a little light goes off and they think, “ya, you know what. Drinking – even if it’s only one or two – probably isn’t the best thing to do right now.”
Practical Experience and Results
I’ll be completely honest with you: some patients who are on sertraline do drink alcohol moderately and I haven’t been made aware of any major side effects they’ve experienced with sertraline. But I also haven’t noticed them improving. And that’s really the bottom line.