What is Tianeptine? Side Effects, Risks, and Addiction

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Walk into a convenience store or smoke shop and you might find dozens of kratom or CBD products lining the shelves. Now, tianeptine, a powerful antidepressant referred to as “gas station heroin”, has made its way onto these shelves and it’s growing in popularity. Although the substance is sold as a mood booster and focus aid, there is not much research to support this claim. Below we talk about why people use tianeptine, its harmful side effects, and its high potential for addiction.

What is Tianeptine?

Tianeptine is an antidepressant that boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine, which impact happiness, and norepinephrine, which controls the body’s fight or flight response. Tianeptine also activates opioid receptors in the brain, producing euphoria and pain relief. However, there are many unwanted side effects such as stomach pain, anxiety, lethargy, and a risk of overdose.

Some of the most common brands are Neptune’s Fix, ZaZa, and Tianaa Red which appeal to a range of users with flashy bottles and flavors including lemon, tropical, chocolate-vanilla, cherry, and more.

Tianeptine is not approved for medical use in the United States and the FDA does not regulate it since it is classified under “dietary supplements.” Furthermore, nobody knows the true contents of these small shot-sized bottles, not even the manufacturers. This means that the effects can be unpredictable as well as its interactions with other medications.

Tianeptine is now an emerging threat across the country. Individuals quickly build up a tolerance and need more of the substance to feel the same effects plus avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. In a Vice article, one user says, “Tianeptine is the devil. I want the whole world to know these things are evil.”

What Are the Side Effects of Tianeptine?

While some vendors claim tianeptine can help improve brain function, treat opioid addiction, and reduce chronic pain, the harmful side effects far outweigh any possible benefits of this substance. Tianeptine’s euphoric, opioid-like effects can make it highly addictive, especially when used in high doses or for recreational purposes. Little is known about the purity, efficacy, or safety of each product and the amount of active drug can vary by brand or even by pill.

Tianeptine has a range of adverse side effects including:

  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Hallucination
  • Insomnia

If you or someone you know develops unexpected symptoms after using tianeptine, contact Poison Control online at www.poison.org or by phone at 1-800-222-1222 for expert advice.

Is Tianeptine Legal?

Tianeptine is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use, and it is not considered a controlled substance at the federal level. The FDA has issued two warnings both urging Americans to stay away from supplements containing tianeptine while more research is done. Some states, such as Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and more, have banned the dietary supplement, but officials are urging the FDA to take action.

As of January 2024, the FDA reported that Neptune Resources LLC, the maker of the products, has agreed to voluntarily recall all supplies of Neptune’s Fix Elixir, Neptune’s Fix Extra Strength Elixir and Neptune’s Fix Tablets. The agency also sent notices to convenience stores, gas stations, and other retailers to stop selling the products, whether they will listen is unclear.

Tianeptine Addiction and Withdrawal

Tianeptine addiction can be a serious issue, and individuals who find themselves dependent on the drug may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. Individuals who are trying to stop using opioids such as heroin or fentanyl often will turn to tianeptine in the hope that it will relieve their addiction.

One of the trademarks of tianeptine abuse is the financial cost. An average bottle of Neptune’s Fix costs $30 and some of the heaviest users may consume up to six bottles a day to feel the full effects. So, this can amount to over a thousand dollars a week spent on the dietary supplement.

Tianeptine withdrawal can be challenging and uncomfortable, often resembling the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Some of the most common symptoms include anxiety, depression, muscle aches, nausea, fever, and sweating. It’s important to seek professional help when discontinuing tianeptine to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure a successful recovery.

Seeking Professional Help

Although manufacturers label tianeptine as a natural dietary supplement, there is a reason it is nicknamed “gas station heroin.” This substance is completely synthetic, and nobody knows for certain what ingredients are added.

There is not enough evidence to support that tianeptine can relieve depression or anxiety symptoms. While quitting tianeptine may seem daunting, there are support resources available. Reach out to an addiction treatment center such as Mountainside which can assess your situation and work with you to develop an appropriate wellness plan.

An expert can help decide the right combination of therapy, medication, and mindfulness practices that will guide you through recovery and any mental health challenges. They will also help you build a strong network of friends and family that can provide emotional support during times of need. Remember, you are not alone, and there is no shame in seeking help.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.