A pill called ZAZA Red is sold at gas stations and convenience stores, offering an intense mood boost that can lead to addiction. But experts say it’s more like “gas station heroin” than a dietary supplement and is linked to several overdoses and deaths.
The pills and powders known as Zaza Red, Tianna Red, or Coaxil/Stablon are being marketed as a dietary supplement in America despite not having FDA approval or any scientific backing. The drugs contain tianeptine, an atypical tricyclic antidepressant that is legal in Europe, Asia, and Latin America but is controlled in the US due to its potential for abuse. The drug is said to produce feelings of euphoria similar to those produced by opioid painkillers, and can also be used to reduce anxiety and depression.
However, people are abusing the drug by taking large doses, and combining it with alcohol or other drugs that interact with the same receptors as tianeptine in the brain. This can produce adverse effects such as confusion, drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, sex disturbances, heart problems, and even death.
Kristin, a single mother of an 11-year-old daughter, started taking the Zazas after her husband brought them home from work in a paper bag, saying they were “new things to try out.” At first, she took seven the first night and felt good but dizzy. The next day, she took 15, and by the end of that week she was downing a bottle and a half every day. The euphoria would last all day, but it didn’t help her anxiety and depression, so she turned to opioids for relief.
But, as Kristin’s opioid use progressed, she began experiencing side effects such as constipation, sex disturbances, and an overactive immune system. She struggled to maintain a job and care for her daughter, and eventually lost custody of the child. Kristin says she is now in detox and trying to overcome her addiction with the help of a treatment program.
Several states have taken action to stop the spread of the drugs, with Alabama passing a law on June 6 that makes possession of tianeptine a Class A misdemeanor. The state is also requiring convenience store owners to confiscate the drug and educate employees about the dangers of it.
While medical detox is necessary for many individuals struggling with any kind of substance abuse, following that up in a residential treatment program away from their daily triggers and habits can ensure the best chance at recovery. For those struggling with a Zaza Red addiction, a treatment center that can help minimize withdrawal symptoms is critical for long-term success. Get the help you need today. Call the national hotline for a free, confidential assessment. 1-800-273-8255. The line is open 24/7. You can also chat with a representative online by clicking on the link below. Then you can take the next steps to getting on a path to recovery. You deserve it. The National Alliance on Substance Abuse has resources to help you find treatment for a Zaza Red addiction or other form of substance abuse.