‘Gas Station Heroin’ Is Causing Intense Withdrawals. It’s Legal in Most States.

A drug called tianeptine, known colloquially as “gas station heroin,” has been banned by several states. It’s being marketed as a dietary supplement, but some users are describing it as a highly addictive opioid. 

Tianeptine is a tricyclic antidepressant used to treat depression in some European, Latin American, and Asian countries, but it’s not approved by the FDA for medical use in the U.S. It’s not a controlled substance and is typically sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement, nootropic (a chemical that improves cognitive function), or a research chemical under brand names like ZaZa Red, TD Red, and Tianna. It can be found in gas stations or easily bought online. 

Medical experts say tianeptine functions as an opioid because it hits opioid receptors in the brain, which explains why people have reported severe withdrawal when they try to stop using it. 

“People are using it either to manage or withdrawal from harder, harsher stuff, or they’re kind of starting their journey and developing an unhealthy relationship with it based on its effects—and its effects are opioid-like effects,” said Dr. Patrick Marshalek, an associate professor at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine. 

There’s very little known about tianeptine, including how many people are using it, though reports from both the FDA and the DEA have noted upticks in poison control calls about the drug up until at least 2020. It’s been banned in Michigan, Alabama, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, and Indiana; officials in Mississippi issued a health alert about it earlier this year. 

Experts told VICE News the issues surrounding its use are part of a larger problem where unregulated substances mimic the effects of illicit drugs, despite being marketed in a benign way. 

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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