A drug called tianeptine has gained popularity in some parts of the United States recently being called, “gas station heroin.” Tianeptine is an antidepressant medication used in some parts of Europe and Latin America where it is regulated. However, it is not approved in the United States for medical use. Yet, it can be found being sold in unregulated forms as a supplement at gas stations and smoke shops in the U.S. under brand names like Zaza, Tianna, TD Red, and Pegasus. It is often marketed as a “dietary supplement” or “research chemical,” but tianeptine is highly addictive and has a high threshold for dependency. Make no mistake, this gas station heroin is dangerous. VICE News recently reported on this drug, showing a user with the issue.

Tianeptine is prescribed as an antidepressant in some countries to treat depression and anxiety and can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. These effects are similar to opioids. As a result, tianeptine has been abused by some as a recreational drug, often in combination with other drugs. Tianeptine abuse, however, has serious health risks because of the drug’s negative effects on both physical and mental health.

Dangers of tianeptine abuse include:

  • Physical and psychological dependence are potential side effects of tianeptine addiction.
  • Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can be worsened or triggered by tianeptine abuse.
  • When taken for an extended period of time, tianeptine abuse can cause liver damage.
  • Memory loss, confusion, and difficulty concentrating are some of the symptoms of tianeptine abuse, as it causes cognitive impairment.
  • When tianeptine is abused, it can cause respiratory depression, seizures, and even death from overdose.

What are the withdrawal symptoms associated with tianeptine?

There is a wide range of severity among withdrawal symptoms based on the dosage of tianeptine taken, the duration of use, and medical history of the individual. Rather than abruptly stopping tianeptine, it is best to gradually decrease, aka taper, the dosage over time to manage withdrawal symptoms. By doing so, the body is able to slowly adjust to lower levels of the drug. In order to determine the appropriate dosage reduction and monitor the patient’s progress, it is highly recommended to do tapering under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Common withdrawal symptoms from tianeptine, including:

  • A feeling of anxiety and agitation
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Shifts in mood
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Sweating and tremors
  • Hallucinations and seizures

The sooner you seek help for tianeptine abuse, the better your chances of recovery. Fortunately, addiction is a treatable disease, and recovery is possible with the right support and treatment. Some tianeptine addiction treatment options include:

  • Inpatient rehab: People addicted to tianeptine receive intensive, 24-hour care in an inpatient rehab program. This is best for those with a severe addiction.
  • Outpatient rehab: For those who cannot commit to full-time treatment, outpatient rehab programs provide flexible, part-time care.
  • Therapy: People who are addicted to tianeptine benefit from individual and group therapy to address the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping skills. These strategies can help someone stay on the recovery path long-term.

Despite being marketed as a harmless dietary supplement, tianeptine is an extremely potent drug. It has a high potential for abuse and dependence. In addition to addiction and overdose, tianeptine abuse has serious health consequences. In the event that you or someone you know is suffering from tianeptine abuse, it is imperative you seek help right away as treatment and support are essential to recovery. Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® provides a wide range of services to support people that are struggling with substance abuse issues. Visit or call 1-888-NODRUGS for more information and support.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.