Mississippi just became the latest state to take action to ban tianeptine, a drug that has been dubbed “gas station heroin” because it mimics opiates and causes severe withdrawal in some users. The drug, which is sold under names like “zaza” or “tianna,” has even been linked to fatal overdoses.
Mississippi last week passed a bill to make tianeptine a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning people caught with it could face a fine or up to 30 years in prison, depending on how much they possess. If signed into law, the bill will go into effect on July 1 and give gas stations and cigar shops, where these products are typically sold, until then to get rid of their inventory.
Mississippi’s proposed ban follows a similar emergency ban passed by Ohio in December; Michigan, Alabama, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, and Indiana also banned tianeptine.
Have you been affected by a tianeptine ban? Or are you an addiction expert helping people addicted to tianeptine? Contact manisha.krishnan@End-shutdown.com to share your story.
Although tianeptine, a tricyclic antidepressant, is used to treat depression in some European and Latin American countries, it is not approved by the FDA for use in the US, therefore it is not regulated at all and is generally marketed As a natural supplement it can improve a person’s mood and ability to concentrate.
However, complaints to the FDA about the “adverse effects” of the drug have increased in recent years. as are calls to the poison control center. Dozens of people have contacted VICE News to say they are addicted to the drug and now take several bottles of capsules a day to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweats, restless legs, insomnia and anxiety.
Lowndes County, Mississippi, had been considering its own ban on tianeptine. Speaking at a recent council meeting, Sheriff Eddie Hawkins and Columbus Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said two people fatally overdosed on taking tianeptine, according to the office.
“There’s no age restriction on the sale, which means a 15-year-old could go into a store and buy these things, which is scary,” Hawkins said.
“There’s no age restriction on the sale, which means a 15-year-old could go into a store and buy these things, which is scary.”
A 35-year-old man in Lowndes County was arrested in January for allegedly stealing Za-Za, a brand of tianeptine, from a convenience store on two separate occasions.
“Obviously it’s addictive or you wouldn’t have anybody walking into convenience stores to get it,” Hawkins told The Dispatch.
dr. Patrick Marshalek, an associate professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, told VICE News that he would like to see a person’s toxicology results before determining whether or not they overdosed on tianeptine, in part to see if they consumed some other substance. However, he said that tianeptine hits the opioid receptors that govern breathing, “and that’s where it gets dangerous.” (Opioids are respiratory depressants.)
He said that banning tianeptine or opioids may have unintended consequences, which could result in users replacing them with other substances.
“If you ban this and the lawsuit is still there and we walk away and think about the disease of addiction, that fire is burning. So it’s going to look for some other kind of fuel to burn, whether it’s gas station heroin or fentanyl on the street or something else that’s easy to get and maybe uncontrolled,” he said.
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