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January 1, Gas Station Heroin: New Jersey Battles Surge in Havoc Illnesses



A perilous substance is wreaking havoc in New Jersey, with health officials raising the alarm over its increasing prevalence. The drug, often found on the shelves of local convenience stores, is contributing to a surge of illnesses across the state.

Products such as Neptune’s Elixir and ZaZa Red, colloquially known as “gas station heroin,” are being marketed as dietary supplements. These items can be purchased in gas stations or online, as per a health alert issued by the New Jersey Department of Health.

“Between June and Nov. 2023, there were 20 reported cases of tianeptine causing “severe clinical effects” in New Jersey,” according to a Feb. 1 alert from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This marks a significant increase from the two or fewer calls the poison center typically receives each year.

Tianeptine, a tricyclic antidepressant not approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, is the active ingredient in these products. Companies market this drug as a remedy for pain, anxiety, and depression, or as a tool for enhancing mental alertness.

The drug is often promoted as a “safer” alternative to opioids. However, experts are cautioning that tianeptine possesses highly addictive and dangerous properties.

“Tianeptine interacts with opioid receptors in the brain, and in larger doses, can mimic the effects of traditional heroin such as euphoria, but also the consequences frequently associated with tolerance, withdrawal and toxicity,” Dr. David Campbell, clinical and program director of Recover Together Bend in Oregon, told Fox News Digital.

“With such ease of access, even kids are getting caught in the crossfire.”

Tianeptine can be sold in various forms including pills, powder, salt, or liquid, and is widely available in many states, says Dr. Adam Scioli, corporate medical director and head of psychiatry at Caron Treatment Centers in Philadelphia.

“We have seen patients come in having gotten tianeptine over the internet or at gas stations,” Scioli told Fox News Digital. “They often suffer from withdrawal symptoms similar to those of an opioid withdrawal and often need medication-assisted treatment such as buprenorphine.”

“Why it is being sold commercially as an active ingredient in a supplement in everyday settings is beyond me.”

The drug’s widespread availability and easy access at gas stations, minimarts, and smoke shops are among the main reasons people seek it out, according to Scioli.

“There is also this ongoing misconception that if something is easily accessible, legal in some states and available, it is safe — which isn’t true of several substances, not just products that contain tianeptine,” Scioli warned.

“These are dangerous, addictive substances with potentially fatal outcomes.”

Scioli labeled tianeptine a “substance of abuse” that can be addictive and deadly.

“Tricyclic antidepressants have what we call a narrow, therapeutic index, meaning that it is fairly easy to tip into the non-therapeutics/toxic range,” he said.

“Tricyclic antidepressants in and of themselves can also cause seizures, electrolyte abnormality and death in overdose. Symptoms will be similar to an opioid withdrawal or overdose.”

Tianeptine’s withdrawal symptoms can be severe and significant, including nausea, vomiting, confusion, flu-like symptoms, depression, anxiety, coma, and even respiratory failure and overdose, according to Campbell.

In 2023, the FDA issued an alert warning about the dangers of Neptune’s Fix or any other product containing tianeptine.

“FDA has received severe adverse event reports after use of Neptune’s Fix products, including seizures and loss of consciousness leading to hospitalization,” the agency stated.

“FDA considers tianeptine to be a substance that does not meet the statutory definition of a dietary ingredient and is an unsafe food additive. The FDA is aware of several serious adverse event reports associated with tianeptine.”

Despite tianeptine being illegal to sell in several states, including Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio, companies continue to market and sell products containing this substance to consumers, warned Scioli.

Campbell of Recover Together Bend in Oregon echoed the need for stricter regulation of tianeptine.

“The FDA ought to be called upon to act now before the increasing use of this substance and other ‘gas station drugs’ leads to yet another drug epidemic in this country,” he said.

“Until the time comes when tianeptine is more strictly regulated or preferably banned, prevention and education must take center stage for parents, schools and other institutions to curtail the scope of underage use,” he added.

Mark Stovall, regional executive director for American Addiction Centers in Mississippi, noted that the FDA has urged convenience stores, gas stations, and other organizations to stop selling tianeptine products. However, he emphasized the need for increased awareness of non-approved FDA drugs and supplements to prevent severe health risks and addictions.

“With such ease of access, even kids are getting caught in the crossfire.”

“If you have an inkling of gas station drugs being sold in the future, be empowered to apply community pressure,” Stovall advised in an interview with Fox News Digital.

“Take initiative by visiting your local gas station and ask them why they’re selling these addictive drugs. Explain the dangers and ask them to stop selling before more individuals are negatively impacted. Talk with your local law enforcement. Some local officials have already started to control these dangerous substances even without federal involvement.”

Experts also urged parents and caregivers to be aware of the risk to kids and teens.

“With so many supplements and substances easily available to children through the internet and stores, it is imperative that parents, guardians and schools become educated — not just about the substances and their effects, but also about how to talk to children and teens about them,” said Scioli.

“An open dialogue is imperative, especially with the proliferation of adulterated drugs sold online. With the overdose risk, there is no safe experimentation.”

On Jan. 28, 2024, Neptune Resources, LLC, the maker of Neptune’s Fix, issued a voluntary recall of its products due to the presence of tianeptine. However, experts are warning that other products may also contain the drug.

Fox News Digital reached out to Neptune Resources, LLC, as well as to MRSS Inc. (maker of ZaZa Red) and Super Chill Products, a New York-based distributor of Neptune’s products that has since issued a recall. Comments were also requested from the FDA and the New Jersey Department of Health.

Anyone who is using tianeptine or a product containing tianeptine and is experiencing withdrawal symptoms can call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or seek emergency medical assistance, experts advised.

Why It Matters (op-ed)

The rise of “gas station heroin” in New Jersey is yet another example of the left’s failures to protect our citizens. This dangerous drug, tianeptine, is easily accessible and deceptively marketed as a safer alternative to opioids.

Health officials are clearly overwhelmed, and the FDA’s lax regulation of these substances is putting lives at risk. The time for prevention and education is now, before we face another drug epidemic in our country.

We must demand stricter regulation and enforcement against those who continue to sell these addictive drugs. It is our responsibility to protect our communities and ensure our children are not caught in the crossfire of this growing threat.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. PatrioTEA

    February 25, 2024 at 8:31 pm

    It is all part of the Progressive’s Deep State plan to destroy this country led by Democrats and the Biden regime.

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