Tianeptine: Abuse, Withdrawal & Recovery

Table of Contents

Tianeptine is an atypical tricyclic antidepressant used for the treatment of depression. Marketed in the United States as a dietary supplement, tianeptine is legal in all U.S. states except Alabama, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Although tianeptine is utilized to treat depression in countries throughout Europe, Asian, and Latin America, the FDA does not approve tianeptine pills for medical use in the United States. The FDA reports that tianeptine is associated with serious harm, including life-threatening overdoses.

Despite the marketing of tianeptine supplement, the drug has been likened to opioids, earning tianeptine the nickname “gas station heroin”.

This guide explores the addictive profile of tianeptine and outlines how to initiate withdrawal and recovery from this novel antidepressant.

Request a call.

We want to help, let’s setup a call and figure out the best treatment options for you or your loved one. Our detox specialists will get back to you immediately.

What is Tianeptine?

Tianeptine is a medication primarily prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder (depression). There is also ongoing research on the suitability of the medication for treating IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). 

The medication is structurally classified as a TCA (tricyclic antidepressant). Despite this classification, tianeptine is atypical because it does not have the same pharmacological properties as typical tricyclic antidepressants.

Developed in the 1960s by the French Society of Medical Research, tianeptine is approved in France, where it is manufactured and sold as various branded versions, including:

  • Stablon
  • Tatinol
  • Coaxil 

You take tianeptine orally in doses of between 25mg and 50mg. The medication can also be administered by intravenous injection.

You take tianeptine orally in doses of between 25mg and 50mg. The medication can also be administered by intravenous injection.

The medication has a mechanism of action that increases uptake of serotonin in the brain. In low doses, this can:

  • Improve mood
  • Reduce stress levels 

Additionally, tianeptine can mitigate symptoms of anxiety disorders and depressive disorders by increasing dopamine production and activating natural opioid receptors in the brain. For this reason, many people compare tianeptine vs. kratom. Kratom is another supplement that is similar to opioids in its mechanism of action.

In all but three U.S. states, tianeptine is not a controlled substance. The medication is typically sold as either a nootropic (a chemical that boosts cognitive function) or as a dietary supplement. Tianeptine is readily available online or in gas stations. Common brand names for tianeptine in this form include:

  • TD Red
  • Tianna
  • ZaZa
  • Tia

Tianeptine Abuse & Addiction

If you take a standard dose of tianeptine, you will not experience a euphoric high. Taking 25mg to 50mg of this medication daily will not cause tolerance to form and will not lead to the presentation of withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. 

The issue of tianeptine abuse typically stems from people who buy the medication online in either of the following forms:

  • As a research chemical purchased from companies in the United States.
  • As a supplement purchased from companies overseas.

Many people who abuse tianeptine take large doses, sometimes injected intravenously. Tianeptine is abused for its rewarding high and for its perceived ability to boost mental clarity and working memory.

Abusing this drug can cause tolerance to form, meaning you will require more and more of tianeptine to achieve the same effects. This often accelerates the development of physical dependence. Addiction often but not always follows.

These are five of the most common signs of tianeptine addiction:

  1. Using larger amounts of tianeptine or using tianeptine for longer than intended.
  2. Repeatedly trying and failing to moderate or discontinue use of the medication.
  3. Spending large chunks of times using and obtaining tianeptine, as well as recovering from its effects.
  4. Experiencing cravings for tianeptine so intense that you struggle to focus on anything else.
  5. Continuing to use the medication despite it triggering problems in your personal and professional life.

While there is no cure for addiction to tianeptine, evidence-based treatment can produce positive outcomes – more on this below.

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Tianeptine?

Research suggests that tianeptine has a high potential for addiction when abused due to its opioid-like properties.

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) notes that the sustained misuse or abuse of tianeptine is known to bring about withdrawal symptoms consistent with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. 

How long it takes to become addicted to this medication will depend on many variables, such as:

  • Amount of tianeptine being used
  • Duration of tianeptine abuse
  • Other substances being abused
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Physical health
  • Family history of addiction
  • Personal history of addiction 

After a few weeks to a few months of tianeptine abuse, addiction could easily develop.

Side Effects of Tianeptine

The FDA deems the unapproved drug tianeptine highly addictive, and also liable to cause people using the medication to subsequently start using other opioids.

The most common side effects of tianeptine are as follows:

  • Stomach aches
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal
  • Overdose (especially when combined with other addictive substances)
  • Coma

Some people have also reported the following symptoms after taking tianeptine:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Cardiovascular symptoms 

Tianeptine Withdrawal

Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant, but it functions similarly to an opioid due to the way it targets opioid receptors in the brain. This leads to intense withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the drug.

The duration and severity of withdrawal will vary depending on the frequency and duration of abuse, the presence of any other addictive substances, and the dosage of tianeptine being abused.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Appetite loss
  • Yawning
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Moodiness
  • Suicidal ideation

How Long Does Tianeptine Withdrawal Last?

Tianeptine withdrawal is consistent with detoxing from any drugs that target the brain’s opioid receptors.

Acute withdrawal symptoms will typically subside after five to seven days of detox. According to CDC, some post-acute tianeptine withdrawal symptoms may linger for longer.

Treatment for Tianeptine

Before you engage with treatment for tianeptine abuse, you should first detox from the medication. This is best achieved under medical supervision at a licensed medical detox center.

In most cases, a tapering schedule can be used to gradually reduce the dose of tianeptine. Other medications may be substituted for tianeptine to reduce the intensity of withdrawal. Tapering typically takes place over one to two weeks.

 

During the discontinuation phase and throughout ongoing treatment, psychological support and guidance can help you to address the mental aspect of addiction to gas station heroin. We can help you with all this and more here at California Detox in Orange County.

Addiction Recovery at California Detox

Before you start a treatment program for tianeptine addiction at California Detox, take advantage of our beachside medical detox center to withdraw from this medication as safely and seamlessly as possible.

After a week or two of tapered dosage reduction, you can transition directly into one of the following treatment programs: 

  • Inpatient program (residential rehab)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)
  • OP (outpatient program)
  • Virtual IOP (remote rehab)
  • Dual diagnosis (for addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

While detox will address the physical component of dependence, you will require ongoing behavioral therapies to overcome psychological addiction to tianeptine. Access the following interventions as part of your personalized treatment plan at California Detox:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

When you are ready to initiate your recovery from tianeptine addiction, reach out to admissions for immediate assistance by calling 949.390.5377.

FAQs

A drug addiction hotline provides confidential advice on all aspects of addiction and recovery for those not engaged in ongoing treatment.

Calling an addiction hotline is one option if you are concerned about a loved one who is addicted to drugs. The hotline staff can assess the situation and redirect you to the most suitable resources, including local drug rehabs, intervention specialists, detox centers, and treatment facilities.

Sources