Tianeptine Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

What is tianeptine?

Tianeptine is a prescription medication marketed as a tricyclic antidepressant in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Instead of increasing serotonin like many antidepressants, tianeptine mainly works by affecting the opioid and glutamate receptors in the brain. When taken in high quantities, it can produce opioid like effects. It is often marketed as a supplement or research chemical in the form of either tianeptine sulfate or tianeptine sodium through unregulated online vendors. Due to its legal status in the US some gas stations have also began selling it.

Tianeptine is also known as:

  • Tianeptine sulfate
  • Tianeptine sodium powder
  • Tianaa
  • Tianna Green
  • Tianna Red
  • Tianna White
  • Za Za

What type of drug is tianeptine?

Tianeptine is an antidepressant with atypical properties. It also modulates the same opioid receptors as drugs like morphine.

Is tianeptine legal in the US?

Tianeptine is legal in all US states except for Michigan, Minnesota, and Alabama where it’s now considered a scheduled controlled substance. Tianeptine is not FDA approved for human consumption, it does not qualify as a dietary ingredient, is not an approved food additive, and is not generally recognized as safe by the FDA. To bypass the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tianeptine is typically sold as not for human consumption or as adulterated dietary supplements containing tianeptine.

How is tianeptine used by people?

When prescribed, tianeptine is typically used for treatment of major depressive disorder, and sometimes anxiety, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. Tianeptine is also used recreationally for its mild opioid like effects. Users in online discussion forums and from clinical case reports describe tianeptine as having euphoric effects. Forum users have also reported combining tianeptine with other drugs to potentiate the effects. For recreational purposes routes administration include oral, intravenous, and insufflation (inhalation).

What does tianeptine do to you?

Tianeptine affects several key brain functions, it activates opioid neurotransmitter receptors, inhibits glutamate receptors, and modestly potentiates dopamine. Unlike common antidepressants it does not cause any long-term changes in serotonin levels. In high doses, tianeptine can have effects similar to an opioid which can lead to addiction and other serious health conditions such as respiratory depression and overdose.

What is tianeptine like and how does it feel?

Tianeptine has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties. When used in high amounts, online users report an opioid like euphoric effect. Opioid effects typically involve pain reduction and sedation as well as a general sense of well-being.

How long does it take for tianeptine to work?

Users of online forums report tianeptine sodium and sulfate begins working within 30-60 minutes when taken orally. However, the onset of effects may be faster when taken via other routes of administration.

What are the side effects of tianeptine?

Possible side effects of tianeptine include nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, light-headedness, and changes in dreaming. In high doses, or when combined with other synergistic drugs such as alcohol, phenibut or benzodiazepines, tianeptine can cause drowsiness, confusion, difficulty breathing, coma, and death.

How addictive is tianeptine?

There are studies showing high potential for addiction to tianeptine when it is misused for its opioid like properties. Prolonged misuse of tianeptine at high doses is known to cause withdrawal symptoms consistent with other opioid drugs or potentially worse. The misuse of and addiction to tianeptine is well documented in Europe, and there are more and more cases of tianeptine addiction being reported in the United States. The CDC reported a significant surge in tianeptine abuse or misuse reports in recent years.

Source: American Association of Poison Control Centers

Can you overdose from tianeptine?

Tianeptine at high doses can be dangerous and can cause an overdose. A 2018 study reports 15 cases of tianeptine overdose, about half being in combination with another substance, 3 of which resulted in death. Another study reported two additional fatal cases of tianeptine overdose in Texas.

How long does tianeptine withdrawal last?

Tianeptine withdrawal is consistent with other drugs that affect the opioid receptors. It can take 5 to 7 days for acute withdrawal symptoms to subside, however post-acute symptoms may persist for longer periods of time.

How to detox from and quit tianeptine?

Detox from tianeptine should be done under medical supervision to ensure safety and to reduce discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms. Typically, a replacement opioid tapering schedule can be administered over an interval of 7 or 14 days depending on patient history. In addition, comfort medications can be administered to make withdrawal symptoms more tolerable. Psychological support and guidance are also highly recommended during drug discontinuation phase and thereafter.

Tianeptine Withdrawal Help

At RCA we offer multiple options suitable for treatment of tianeptine addiction and withdrawal. Namely opioid detox, residential rehab and outpatient medication assisted treatment.

Both medically supervised detox and outpatient medication assisted treatment are widely accepted as the safest available opioid treatment options and result in the least discomfort from withdrawal. Additional medications such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, sleep aids and others may be used for treating the symptoms during the withdrawal period.

After medical detoxification, treatment may include clinical therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, family therapy sessions, innovative treatments, and addiction workshops. For patients struggling with tianeptine or other opioid-like substances, additional treatment options to assist with calming the body and the mind such as mindful meditation, yoga, progressive relaxation, fitness classes and other therapeutic techniques are available.

RCA believes strongly in the benefits of helping patients develop coping mechanisms, including those that help patients deal with cravings for the instant relief that tianeptine may have originally provided. Through various medical and therapeutic therapies, wellness and life skills workshops, RCA helps patients develop a balanced lifestyle that includes restoring healthy eating and sleeping habits, developing exercise routines and recreational activities if desired, as well as building healthy social support structures to get them started on the road to long-term recovery.

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