The dietary supplement tianeptine goes by many names—“gas station dope,” “hillbilly heroin” and under the brands ZaZa Red and Tianna, to name a few. But make no mistake, although it is legal to buy and sell tianeptine, this is a dangerous drug that can cause significant harm to one’s health, or even cause death.
The promise and the lies
Tianeptine is often touted as a legal alternative to opioid drugs. It falsely claims it can cure many health problems. Some of these claims include:
- It can give users energy and help them focus
- It can be used to treat anxiety and depression
- It can be relaxing and soothing
But make no mistake, tianeptine causes negative health effects. Not only is there no proof it can achieve any of the health effects it claims it can achieve but it can also have side effects similar to those of opioid drugs.
Tianeptine is an addictive substance and can make users drowsy and confused. An overdose could cause a user to fall into a coma or even die. Those withdrawing from tianeptine can suffer paranoia and hallucinations similar to opioid withdrawals.
Tianeptine is legal in Virginia, for now
Tianeptine is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thus, it is legal to sell as a “dietary supplement” and it can make the claims it can with little to no consequences.
But some states are changing that. Tianeptine is illegal to sell and buy in several states, including the southern states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Virginia still allows the sale of tianeptine, but some would like that to change.
Opioid addiction is a serious problem in the United States but substituting opioid drugs for dangerous substances like tianeptine does nothing to help those with an addiction. Moreover, as more states start to criminalize the sale and use of tianeptine, more users of the drug might find themselves facing drug charges if they get caught with it.