Tag Archives: Prescription Drug Addiction Arizona

Zoloft and Alcohol

Oftentimes, persons struggling with substance abuse will combine various drugs and alcohol in order to produce heightened effects. What most people are unaware of, however, are the specific interactions from combining substances. One such combination is Zoloft and Alcohol; though commonly taken together, this mix can be dangerous and even fatal. 

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft, also known as Sertraline, is a prescription medication taken orally, belonging to the class of antidepressants known as SSRIs.  Zoloft is frequently a prescription to treat conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Especially for persons displaying depression symptoms, Zoloft is known to improve mood, energy, and ‘zest for life’. However, there are numerous side effects which can occur, including diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, and decreased libido.

In terms of efficacy, Zoloft (and other SSRIs) have been proven advantageous in treating persons suffering from melancholic depression as compared to Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs). This other class of antidepressants, TCAs, is more effective in treating severe depression in inpatient settings.

What is an SSRI?

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are a category of antidepressants, whose distinguishing characteristic is an increased level of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter, Serotonin, is primarily responsible for feelings of happiness and contentment. The process by which this occurs is scientifically complex, as are all matters relating to neurochemistry. Put simply, serotonin is “held in place” (inhibited) so that is more available for neurons (brain cells). While Zoloft is an SSRI, it is not the only; other SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Pexeva. 

How long does Zoloft stay in your system?

In order to understand how long Zoloft stays in your system, it is important to understand the concept of half-life.  In the world of substances, half-life refers to how long it takes for 50% of a drug to be gone from a person’s body.  So, for instance, if a substance’s half-life is one week, then it is 50% out of the system after one week.

For Zoloft, the half-life is approximately 25-26 hours.  Thus, after one day, the levels of Zoloft in a person’s system will be decreased by 50%.  Two days after stopping usage, the levels will be at 25%.  This process continues until Zoloft has completely left the body.  

Is Zoloft Addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedules or categorizes thousands of drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. Zoloft, and by extension, Sertraline, is not included in the Controlled Substance Act, and thus has no scheduling attached.  SSRIs in general are not classified as controlled substances.

Because of this, most do not typically regard Zoloft as addictive or narcotic.  When compared to other prescription medications, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, many feel that Zoloft is not dangerous.  

However, many persons taking Zoloft can become psychologically and physically dependent.  This mostly occurs when individuals attempt to wean themselves off of the drug, and discover that there are in fact withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms can include aggression, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and paranoia.  

If you are currently prescribed Zoloft and would like to stop taking it, please consult with your doctor first.  Withdrawal symptoms can and do occur if an individual rapidly decreases the level of the medication in their system.  Speaking with your doctor about how to effectively wean off of the medication will save you lots of uncomfortability.

Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol

While Zoloft on its own, following a prescription, is generally safe, the combination of Zoloft with other substances can be dangerous. The most common co-occurring substance people use with Zoloft is alcohol.  

Again, Zoloft is not typically dangerous. When combined with alcohol, there are many side-effects that can occur, because of how the biochemistry behind the two substances interact. Some of the side effects potentially include:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Drowsiness

Alcohol and Zoloft share these common side effects, and when combined in the system, the side effects tend to be amplified. For this reason, the FDA has recommended not drinking alcohol while prescribed Zoloft.  

One more piece to be aware of is that both alcohol and Zoloft affect levels of serotonin in the brain. Remember, Zoloft is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor); it actively affects serotonin levels in order to mitigate depression symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it will commonly exacerbate symptoms of depression.  Mixing the two is not advisable.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction to Zoloft and alcohol? If you need help, please call us today so that we can provide adequate information and education. Or, keep reading about other drug combinations here!

Gabapentin High


According to GoodRX, gabapentin is the fourth most prescribed drug in the United States. Due to its prevalence and popularity, it has slowly made its way into the realm of drug abuse and addiction.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription drug used to prevent seizures. An anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug, it is commonly administered orally via capsule. Along with its seizure preventative properties, it can also help dull nerve pain caused from shingles. Different brand names of gabapentin can have different primary uses. For example, the brand Gralise treats shingles pain, whereas Neurontin primarily targets adult seizure activity. Both medications contain gabapentin; however, they also contain a mixture of other drugs to treat the specific ailment.

Gabapentin for Anxiety

Gabapentin has been proven to be effective against anxiety disorders while being potentially a safer alternative to traditional benzodiazepines such as Xanax. It is considered to be a low risk drug that likely will not cause addiction or promote abuse and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not consider it to be a controlled substance. 

Gabapentin Warnings

Gabapentin comes with a long list of medical warnings intended to promote cautious and informed use amongst users. One of these warnings is to not suddenly stop taking the drug. The immediate cessation of gabapentin use, when prescribed for epilepsy and seizures, can cause a condition which is known as status epilepticus. Status epilepticus, a seizure lasting longer than 30 minutes, has a high mortality rate.

Other warnings include avoiding the combined use of the drug with other substances, drowsiness warnings and a depression warning. 

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Most people don’t consider gabapentin to be an addictive drug. However, most anything can cause an addiction or dependency if abused for a long enough period of time. Many individuals who are currently using stronger opioids may also take it. Furthermore, individuals who are attempting to taper off an opioid addiction may turn to it as an alternative as it does not show up in drug tests.

Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin can cause a euphoric high if taken in high enough doses and some users have likened its experience to marijuana. Typically, users will have to take more than 800mg in order to feel the euphoric effects. People who abuse it are also more likely to combine the drug with other substances. With polysubstance abuse, the risk of experiencing an overdose is much greater as your body experiences different effects from multiple drugs which can overwhelm the system. Most of the time, people abuse gabapentin along with opioids or alcohol. 

Gabapentin High

Overdose

Gabapentin overdoses are rare but still well documented. While it is very much possible to overdose, the mortality rate from this is relatively low. In other words, a significantly low number of overdoses are fatal. However, an overdose can still cause permanent damage to your body as it can prevent adequate oxygen from reaching your brain. Unfortunately, unlike opioid overdoses, gabapentin does not have a quick remedy in the case of an overdose. It is possible to inject most patients with Narcan to end a narcotic overdose. There is no such cure for gabapentin.  Therefore, it is important that suspected overdose patients call emergency services immediately. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

Gabapentin Interactions

Gabapentin can interact with other medications such as morphine and stomach acid drugs (aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide). Further, according to drugs.com, there are a total of 219 drugs known to interact with this medication, 24 of which are major interactions such as methadone, oxycodone, percocet, suboxone, tramadol and alcohol.

Gabapentin High

Gabapentin and Alcohol

Gabapentin can increase the effects of alcohol on the body and can seriously affect cognitive ability. It may cause you to experience enhanced side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. Further, the decrease in cognitive ability can cause poor decision making, such as making the decision to drink and drive. 

Side Effects

Gabapentin can cause moderate to severe side effects when taken orally as prescribed. Some of the more serious side effects include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Depression (presence of suicidal thoughts)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increase in aggressiveness 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen skin
  • Rashes
  • Panic attacks

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it may help to call your medical provider and ask for further guidance.

Withdrawal

Gabapentin is known to cause withdrawal symptoms in long-term users. According to one study, those who frequently take between 400mg to 800mg may be at higher risk of experiencing withdrawals. Gabapentin withdrawals will likely cause similar symptoms experienced by alcohol and benzodiazepine users, as all three drugs target the same GABA receptors in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin immediately after quitting and can continue for up to a week. Withdrawal severity is dependent on a variety of factors ranging from age to the regular dosage taken by the patient. 

However, quitting is not impossible. Experts recommend that tapering be done in increments of no more than 300mg every 4 days. While a taper may be a safe way to slowly come off a gabapentin dependency, it does not address possible mental health issues which may have created a co-occuring disorder in the patient. Therefore, we always recommend that individuals seek professional help before beginning their journey to recovery.

Gabapentin High

Treatment

Gabapentin addiction may go hand in hand with other drugs, such as opioids or alcohol. It may also result from a co-occurring mental disorder. Whatever the reason, treatment and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, please contact us today so that we may begin the journey to life-time sobriety, together. To find out more about drug abuse and treatment, read our blog.