Health officials warn against ‘gas station heroin’ following recent drug busts

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 6:07 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Recent drug busts in metro Atlanta and beyond are raising concerns about “gas station heroin.”

The state has taken steps to get this drug off store shelves.

Tianeptine is now a schedule 1 drug in Georgia, but health officials are sounding the alarm about this substance that people are still getting their hands on.

Tianeptine is often referred to as “gas station heroin.”

Products containing this drug are sold online and at some gas station convenience stores.

It’s typically sold under names like ZaZa and Tianna.

“Whether you get it online or on the dark web, in the gas station, it is illegal to sell, it is illegal to consume, it’s definitely illegal to possess,” said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, Executive Director of Georgia Poison Center.

Last week Peachtree City Police arrested store employees for allegedly selling products that contain tianeptine.

In November, investigators seized more than 1200 bottles of the drug from a Haralson County convenience store.

“2022 has been our busiest year for these calls,” said Lopez.

He said the majority of tianeptine-related calls they receive are from people in ER with severe withdrawal symptoms.

“The thing that gets most of the people in the ER is the delirium,” said Dr. Lopez. “It’s so bad that they have to have strong sedatives to calm people down.”

Lopez said this drug has shown to be quite addicting.

It’s one of the many reasons why he warns against using it to self-medicate.

“That’s what makes this antidepressant different from many others, it has this sort of superpower if you will, it has the ability to act like an opioid.”

Tianeptine is not approved by the FDA for any medical use.

In February the FDA announced tianeptine presents safety risks and can be abused.