Tianeptine is an antidepressant medication used in Europe but not in the United States. Its pharmacology is a little complicated - it has properties of both tricyclic antidepressant medications but is also partially an opioid medication. It is not regulated here in the US and is therefore not considered legal or safe for use.
If you're in recovery from an opioid use disorder (OUD), these pills could trigger a relapse. If you've never taken opioids before, Tianeptine is considered dangerous as it is an opioid medication and, like other opioid medications, carries the risk of overdose.
Tianeptine misuse is on the rise in the United States. Here's what you need to know about Tianeptine.
What Is Tianeptine?
Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant which also has some opioid properties. It has a half-life of two to four hours. It's not prescribed in the U.S. Instead, it's considered a dietary supplement and is included in products like ZaZaRed or Tianna.
Tianeptine products are regulated via the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Under DSHEA, pre-market testing is not required to assess the purity, efficacy, or safety of substances marketed as supplements. Manufacturers also don’t have to tell their customers about the harm their products can cause.
Tianeptine works on opioid receptors, and it’s inherently dangerous. But manufacturers aren’t required to disclose this fact on their labels.
Dangers of Tianeptine for Those With OUD
Any supplement you buy could be dangerous because supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that medications are. Tianeptine could be particularly risky for people with an OUD for the following reasons:
Substances that claim to contain Tianeptine can often obtain other substances or other opioids instead. If you purchase Tianeptine illegally, you don’t really know what substance you are getting, or how much
Risk of Opioid Misuse
You might buy Tianeptine products to help treat cravings or withdrawal symptoms for opioids, however Tianeptine has misuse potential for people in recovery from OUDs.
Risk of Overdose
Tianeptine is an opioid medication and thus carries the same risks of other opioids, including respiratory suppression and overdose.
How to Stay Safe
Don't trust supplement suppliers. If you can't tell exactly what's inside a packet or pill you're about to buy, don't take it.
If you’re tempted to use Tianeptine to treat an OUD, reach out to your doctor. There are much safer, regulated, FDA approved medications to treat OUD that are available to you, including MAT (Suboxone, Methadone, and Naltrexone).