Before a health provider prescribes a person medication, they will ask the patient about other substances they are taking. For individuals who are on medicine prescribed by another doctor or using illicit drugs, it is vital to be honest because drug interactions can be unpredictable, dangerous, and in extreme cases, life-threatening.
Zoloft and Xanax are drugs commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety, respectively. Zoloft is also sometimes prescribed to help with anxiety, and Xanax can be used to treat seizure disorders and insomnia.
It’s not uncommon for these medications to be prescribed together, but is there any potential for severe interactions? Probably not unless Xanax is used long-term (not recommended) or either drug is used in excessive doses or more frequently than directed.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax (alprazolam) is a schedule IV controlled substance in the U.S. available by prescription to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax works on the central nervous system (CNS) by stimulating the release of the inhibitory neurochemical GABA, which helps reduce brain activity, resulting in the user feeling more relaxed and less anxious.
Xanax is meant to be a short-term or intermittent treatment option for acute anxiety and panic attacks. It shouldn’t be used long-term as it can be habit-forming, and the development of dependence is possible, meaning that if use is discontinued, the individual will experience unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax crosses the blood-brain barrier and takes effect soon after its ingested, and for this reason, tolerance and dependence can occur rapidly. As well as being prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, it’s also a commonly abused drug that some individuals use for recreation purposes, particularly when combined with other substances, such as opioids or alcohol.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription antidepressant in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which work to balance certain neurochemicals in the brain. Along with helping relieve depressive symptoms, Zoloft is also used to treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and sometimes bipolar disorder.
People are warned against taking certain medications with Zoloft, such as other drugs that increase serotonin levels. If you take Zoloft with another substance that impacts serotonin, this can lead to serotonin syndrome, which can be severe and, in extreme cases, life-threatening. As noted, it’s essential to speak with your doctor about other prescription medicines you take before taking Zoloft and herbal supplements, and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
Zoloft, like other SSRIs, can take several weeks before it begins to be effective. For example, it can take as long as one for symptoms to improve for some people. Health experts warn patients not to stop using it without their approval, even if they initially feel it isn’t working for them.
Zoloft and other SSRIs aren’t considered addictive in the same way Xanax and some other psychoactive drugs are. However, there have been reports of rebound depression and anxiety among those who’ve taken Zoloft long-term and attempt to quit abruptly without a tapering period.
Zoloft and Xanax Used in Conjunction
These two drugs might be prescribed in combination because Xanax is a fast-acting remedy to cope with anxiety or panic disorder. Conversely, Zoloft could be used as a much longer-term treatment that takes longer to work but is considered a much safer option overall.
These drugs are not especially likely to adversely interact if used as directed because Zoloft and Xanax work on different brain pathways. While Xanax boosts GABA and reduces CNS activity, SSRIs like Zoloft are prescribed to help regulate serotonin levels.
While it may not be dangerous to combine Zoloft and Xanax, that doesn’t mean there is zero potential for side effects. For example, mixing these two can result in sedation or problems with cognition and physical coordination.
Another issue might be that taking Zoloft and Xanax may not allow the individual to determine how effectively the Zoloft is working, so they may not be able to accurately advise their health provider if they are initially seeing results or experiencing side effects.
Getting Help for Drug Addiction
While Zoloft can cause some level of dependence, it does not appear to have much potential for abuse. Xanax, on the other hand, is a controlled substance that is frequently misused and can cause severe dependence that results in life-threatening withdrawal effects when a person attempts to quit.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers customized, comprehensive treatment programs that feature a variety of corrective methodologies and enjoyable, complementary activities such as the following:
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Group support
- Relapse prevention
- Substance abuse education
- Art and music therapy
- Adventure therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events