Alcohol interferes with the central metabolism of the catecholamines and especially with indolamines (5-HT). Thus, the use of an antidepressant such as tianeptine, whose main neurochemical effect is to increase the reuptake of 5-HT, seems to be particularly indicated for the continued treatment of depressed patients after alcohol withdrawal. This study evaluated the therapeutic efficacy and acceptability during long-term administration of tianeptine in depressed patients (major depressive episode or dysthymic disorder) in a multicentre trial, after withdrawal from alcohol abuse or dependence. The results relate to 130 depressed patients, who abstained from alcohol and received treatment for a year. Only one patient dropped-out because of side-effects, and medication was interrupted in 5% of subjects because of alcoholic relapses. Prescribed in the long term, tianeptine did not produce orthostatic hypotension, changes in bodyweight, or alterations in the ECG. All changes found in haematological and biochemical investigations suggested an improvement in patients' physical state. This, and other studies, indicate that tianeptine appears to have the potential to be a safe antidepressant, which might be particularly useful in those patients who are susceptible to the side-effects of psychotropic drugs.