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Tianeptine Overview: Abuse Potential, Effects, & Treatment

Depression is a severe problem that affects our society as a whole, and it is estimated that worldwide, 300 million people struggle with the disorder. A stigma has been attached to the disorder for decades, and those who deal with the worst of its effects seldom get the help they need. In some cases, however, depression is debilitating and can leave a person bedridden and feeling that they lack a purpose in their lives. 

The problem with depression is how painful it can be, and those who have never experienced it cannot empathize. It’s possible you’ve heard “just get over it; mind over matter; and it’s all in your head” when someone is trying to talk you out of depression, but it’s not that simple. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain that causes this, and for some, medication is required to treat.

Depression does not discriminate your socioeconomic background, and all walks of life can develop the disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines a major depressive episode as at least two weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. 

There are significant sleep issues virtually on a daily basis from either sleeping too much or too little, changes in appetite, decrease energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, psychomotor agitation, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. The symptoms must cause distress or impairments in an individual’s quality of life. There is no single cause of depression, but genetics and life experiences can play a significant role.

The medications that are used to treat disorders like depression, anxiety, or any social disorder, can cause adverse effects and create additional problems in their lives. Unfortunately, while tianeptine is designed to treat the battle with depression, it has a high likelihood of causing addiction. People who have used the drug advise those who are addicted to opioids not to start using tianeptine because of how intense the withdrawal effects are. With that said, let’s delve into the facts and learn more about this drug.

What Is Tianeptine?

Tianeptine, sold abroad under the brand names Stablon and Coaxil among others, is an unapproved antidepressant medication that is becoming widespread in the United States. WebMD suggests opioid users are turning to the drug to treat depression or as an alternative to opioid use. With opiate production slowing down and doctors becoming severely restricted in the amounts they can prescribe, it has pushed the users to turn to street drugs like heroin or fentanyl or seek other alternatives in the form of unapproved drugs.

Tianeptine is used in some European, Asian, and Latin American countries for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of the drug in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even with the restriction in place, the U.S. poison control centers have received a multitude of calls related to tianeptine. The report highlights 207 calls to poison control centers within the past four years, with just 14 in the years prior.

Tianeptine is classified as an atypical antidepressant, which is used mainly in the treatment of major depressive disorder. It can also be used to treat asthma, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome. The drug produces anxiolytic effects with a relative lack of sedative, anticholinergic, and cardiovascular side effects. The substance was discovered and patented by the French Society of Medical Research in the 1960s.

Tianeptine Effects

When used in heavy doses, tianeptine is reported to produce opioid-like recreational effects such as:

  • Stimulation
  • Physical euphoria
  • Bronchodilation
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Physical fatigue
  • Motivation enhancement
  • Anxiety suppression
  • Cognitive euphoria
  • Focus enhancement
  • Thought acceleration
  • Rejuvenation

The chronic use of the drug can be considered addictive and is capable of causing physical and psychological dependence. When physical dependence develops, withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage. Tolerance to the effects can develop with prolonged use, including therapeutic effects. It results in users having to administer increasingly large doses to achieve the same impact, and after that, it takes three to seven days for the tolerance to be reduced to half, and one to two weeks to be back at baseline.

The most common adverse effects of Tianeptine include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in dreams

Studies indicate that the dose should be decreased in elderly patients and those who have severe renal failure, but an adjustment is not necessary for those with alcoholism or hepatic impairment or those undergoing hemodialysis.

Treatment Options for Tianeptine Addiction

Therapeutic doses of the drug are typically safe for most, but some individuals are at increased risk of abusing the drug. Some individuals who struggle with tianeptine abuse report taking as much as 1 gram per day, which is well above the starting dose of 25 mg (milligrams). Due to withdrawal symptoms being as unbearable as opioid withdrawal, it will be difficult to overcome the drug without medical supervision.

There is no recognized use of the drug in the United States, and it is not as commonly abused; however, with the rise of its popularity and increased regulations around opioids, many individuals can begin to abuse it by purchasing it online where it is marked as a dietary supplement. Consuming drugs without medical supervision is strongly advised against and never recommended for any pharmaceutical drug.

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While abuse numbers are still low in the U.S. currently, clinicians always suggest that medical detoxification is the most efficient way to get off tianeptine. Since the medication functions similar to opiates, drugs such as buprenorphine can be administered to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals can evaluate the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and determine what the best course of action is.

Once detox has been completed, the client should be referred to a treatment center, which will provide evidence-based group and individual therapy to change compulsive behaviors around drugs. The process has been highly successful for those who struggle with opioid addiction and can extend to tianeptine abuse as well.

If you’ve fallen victim to addiction while trying to treat your depression, it is time that you reach out and get help. Ocean Breeze recovery can diagnose and treat your depression in a way that will not fuel your drug addiction.

Call Ocean Breeze Recovery for Tianeptine Abuse Today

If you or someone you care about is abusing Tianeptine, Ocean Breeze Recovery wants to help. We offer intensive outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization services. Additionally, we provide medical detox and residential at our sister facility, Arete Recovery. We can also find you a sober living home once treatment ends to ensure your long-term recovery is safe.

Call 844-554-9279 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about which of our treatment programs is best for you. You can also contact us online for more information.

Sources

Verywellmind. (2020, March 21) . (How Many People Are Actually Affected by Depression Every Year? Morin, A., & LCSW Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-statistics-everyone-should-know-4159056

Mayo Clinic. (2016, June 25). Atypical antidepressants. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/atypical-antidepressants/art-20048208

Mental Health Daily. (n.d.) Tianeptine Withdrawal Symptoms. Retrieved from https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2018/02/23/tianeptine-withdrawal-symptoms/

CNS Drugs. (2001). Tianeptine: A review of its use in depressive disorders. Wagstaff, A. J., Ormrod, D., & Spencer, C. M. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11463130

WebMD. (2018, August 02). Opioid Addicts Turning to Unapproved Antidepressant. Thompson, D.Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20180802/opioid-addicts-turning-to-unapproved-antidepressant#1

NIDA. (2018, January 17). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

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