BROOKFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – There is a fairly new drug circulating that is worrying doctors and those who treat addiction.
Certified “addictionologist” Dr. Heather Mourtacos says the substance known as tianeptine has been around since the 1960s and was sold in Europe and Asia as an anti-depressant. In the U.S., it is widely available online as a supplement that’s never been approved by the FDA.
“It’s just listed as an ingredient. People don’t have any idea that this is actually a medication that was developed,” Mourtacos said.
Tianeptine, which is known as “gas station dope,” affects users like an opioid and is highly addictive.
“To try to come off, they say that the withdrawal symptoms are worse than heroin, worse than pills,” Mourtacos said.
Mourtaco operates Trinity Recovery and Wellness and has treated patients who’ve used the substance, saying withdrawal can also lead to deep suicidal depression. She first learned about tianeptine late last year about the same time Ohio was making it illegal to buy, but it remains in Pennsylvania and online.
Mourtacos says she’s now trying to spread the word about Tianeptine, which has been outlawed in a number of other states. However, many in local law enforcement haven’t even heard of it. Mourtacos fears young people will try it, thinking it’s an easy-to-buy, safe alternative to potentially deadly opioids like heroin and fentanyl.
“They think it’s natural. They think it’s a supplement. They think it’s safe,” Mourtacos said.
Only, Mourtacos said it’s anything but safe.