Is Zoloft Addictive?

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Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in America. In 2020, 14.8 million adults struggled with depression which caused severe impairment. Additionally, nearly 40% of the people who suffered from depression did not receive treatment.

While therapy helps treat depression, many people also use prescription drugs to balance chemicals in their brains. The first line of treatment for depression is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin available in your brain.

One of the most common SSRIs used to treat depression is Zoloft (sertraline). It can help people overcome symptoms of major depressive disorders like suicidal thoughts. This medication is generally safe to take and is not considered addictive.

While Zoloft is not addictive, some people attempt to abuse it. Additionally, you can become physically dependent on Zoloft, which means suddenly stopping it will result in withdrawal symptoms.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is used to treat different types of depression disorders and anxiety. It is also referred to by the name sertraline. Because many people with depression have co-occurring anxiety, Zoloft is frequently used to treat both conditions.

Zoloft may be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder (PD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Mental health professionals like using Zoloft to treat a wide range of conditions because it is not commonly abused. In other words, it is considered a low-risk prescription medication. It may cause temporary side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, tremors, or decreased libido.

Do People Abuse Zoloft?

When someone takes Zoloft, it will improve their mood over time. It usually takes a few weeks for the benefits of Zoloft to kick in. With that being said, Zoloft does not cause a high.

Even though Zoloft does not cause a high, some people might attempt to abuse it. Those at an increased risk of Zoloft abuse include people with pre-existing substance use disorders.

Abusing sertraline puts you at risk of developing a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome. This condition occurs when there is too much serotonin flooding your brain. Symptoms might include:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive sweating and high body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors and muscle rigidity
  • Involuntary twitching or jerking
  • Strange eye movements
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Serotonin syndrome requires immediate medical attention. If you believe your loved one is suffering from serotonin syndrome, contact emergency medical services immediately.

If you struggle with Zoloft abuse, it’s time to seek professional help. While Zoloft is not addictive, abusing it is a sign of a substance use disorder. Contact a medical professional to discuss your treatment options.

Is Zoloft Addictive?

If you are wondering whether Zoloft is addictive, the answer is no. However, you can become dependent on the medication.

If you are taking Zoloft to treat a mental health condition, being dependent on it is not necessarily a bad thing. It only means you cannot suddenly stop using it, as withdrawal symptoms, also known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, will occur.

The withdrawal symptoms associated with Zoloft include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Significant mood changes
  • Dizziness
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Tingling sensations
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety and confusion
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy or insomnia
  • Hypomania
  • Tinnitus
  • Seizures

Due to this risk of seizures, you should always ask your doctor for assistance before you stop taking Zoloft. They can help you begin a tapering regimen to ensure you remain safe and comfortable. Additionally, since Zoloft works to treat depression and anxiety, stopping the use of it could cause rebound symptoms.

What Should You Do if Your Loved One Abuses Zoloft?

While Zoloft abuse is rare, it can happen. The main signs of Zoloft abuse include running out of prescriptions early and engaging in secretive behavior or social isolation. If you believe your loved one is abusing their Zoloft, it’s important to take it seriously.

Sertraline abuse can result in serotonin syndrome, so family members must find their loved one’s substance abuse treatment if they are struggling. Addressing the root causes of the Zoloft abuse can prevent your loved one from developing serotonin syndrome.

Even further, it is possible to overdose on Zoloft. If your loved one is taking large amounts of it at once, it’s time to find them professional substance abuse treatment.

Even though you cannot become addicted to Zoloft, drug rehab is the best course of action. Most people who begin abusing their Zoloft are abusing other types of substances as well. Addiction treatment centers can teach your loved one how to cope with their struggles without turning to drugs and alcohol.

Finding Help for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Whether you are abusing Zoloft or another type of substance, professional addiction treatment is the answer. Abusing drugs and alcohol indicates that you have underlying problems that require attention. Drug rehab programs offer individual and group counseling to help you address the root causes of your substance use disorder.

New Jersey Interventions can connect you with a top-rated addiction treatment program in your area. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Medically Reviewed: February 28, 2024

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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