Dangers of Gas Station Heroin
Many addiction experts and public health officials have begun to sound the alarm about a dangerous drug that may be surprisingly easy for people of all ages to acquire. Known as gas station heroin, this substance can cause considerable harm, including addiction, overdose, and death.
What is Gas Station Heroin?
The term “gas station heroin” can refer to a variety of products that contain a substance called tianeptine. It is classified as an atypical tricyclic antidepressant, but it interacts with opioid receptors in the central nervous system. This has made it an enticing substance of abuse among people who are seeking a recreational opioid-like high.
The reason that these products are called gas station heroin is that they are often sold in gas stations, convenience stores, bodegas, and similar outlets.
Is Gas Station Heroin Legal?
Gas station heroin exists in a legal grey area in the United States. The drug has never been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nor has it been classified as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
You might think that a drug that is categorized as a prescription medication in other countries wouldn’t be allowed on convenience store shelves in the U.S., but those who manufacture gas station heroin have taken advantage of a legal loophole.
Products that contain tianeptine are often marketed as “dietary supplements.” This puts them into a group of substances that are not subject to FDA review or approval prior to being sold to the general public.
At some point, the documented negative effects of these substances could prompt the federal government to ban the sale of products that contain tianeptine. In the interim, several states have enacted their own bans.
At the time that this post was written, the following nine states have passed laws to prohibit the sale of tianeptine:
Common Effects of Gas Station Heroin
As we established earlier in this post, the term gas station heroin doesn’t apply to just one product. Since multiple products (with varying levels of tianeptine) can fall under this general descriptor, the effects that can result from their use can also vary.
In general, though, the following are examples of some of the more common effects of tianeptine abuse:
- Elevated heart rate
- Dangerously high blood pressure
- Excessive perspiration
- Slow, shallow respiration
- Difficulty staying awake
- Confusion or disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
Can You Overdose on Gas Station Heroin?
In addition to causing the distressing effects that we listed in the previous section, gas station heroin use can also result in an overdose. When someone ingests more of this substance than their body can safely metabolize, they may be in grave danger and need immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of tianeptine overdose include:
- Extreme confusion
- Breathing problems
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to be awakened
Tianeptine overdose has also been linked with toxic leukoencephalopathy, which is a potentially fatal condition that involves damage to the white matter in the brain.
How to Treat an Overdose
If you suspect that someone has overdosed on gas station heroin, you should immediately call 911 or otherwise summon an emergency first responder in your area. Some sources – such as a July 2017 article in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology — suggest that naloxone (Narcan) may be able to reverse the effects of tianeptine overdose.
Regardless of whether or not you administer Narcan, it is essential to ensure that the individual who has overdosed receives immediate medical attention. In addition to addressing the immediate threat of the overdose, medical professionals can also test for toxic leukoencephalopathy.
Treatment Options for Gas Station Heroin Addiction
Addiction to gas station heroin is, thankfully, a treatable condition. Depending on a variety of individual factors, the ideal course of treatment for someone who has developed this type of substance use disorder may include detoxification, inpatient rehab, and/or outpatient care.
Within these programs, treatment for gas station heroin addiction may include services such as:
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Holistic therapy
If a person’s struggles with addiction are accompanied by certain co-occurring mental health disorders or a history of untreated trauma, they may also benefit from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and/ or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy.
Contact Our Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA
Sanctuary Treatment Center offers compassionate care for adults whose lives have been disrupted by addictions to gas station heroin and other dangerous substances. Our addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, California, is a warm and welcoming place. Patients receive customized services and comprehensive support from a team of highly skilled professionals.
At Sanctuary Treatment Center, we understand that addiction impacts different people in different ways. We are committed to providing a personalized treatment experience to each person who turns to us in their time of need. We take the time to get to know each patient as a unique and valuable individual, so we can be sure that our programming is aligned with their specific needs and goals.
To learn more about how we can help you or someone that you care about, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call our center today.