SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A potentially dangerous drug is popping up in gas stations across Alabama. It’s called Tianaa and it’s advertised as a replacement for the now-banned drug Kratom.
The main ingredient in Tianaa is tianeptine. It is a highly addictive, synthetic drug that gives its users a euphoric high, and strong withdrawal symptoms. The drug claims to help with anxiety and depression and is marketed as an herbal supplement.
Nick Likos was addicted to the drug for three years. Today, he is three weeks sober.
“It got to a point where I was taking 7 pills at a time. 15 pills at a time. It would give you that euphoric feeling of opiates, just like heroin. And I became dependent on it,” said Nick Likos.
After recovering from opioid addiction, Likos was clean. He saw Tianaa advertised as a replacement for Kratom. After trying the drug, he continually increased his dosages.
Likos said, “I got to a point where I was taking 20 to 60 to 120 pills per day.”
This drug has made its way onto the radar of the Shelby County Drug Task Force. Cpt. Clay Hammac said the drug labels are entirely misleading.
Hammac said, “[The drug is] marketed as an herbal supplement, but please understand there is nothing herbal about this product.”
Hammac warns to take this drug seriously.
Hammac said, “Bottle line, tianeptine is highly addictive. The withdrawals are reckless. This is not a product that should be carelessly taken or consumed.”
Along with being highly addictive, the drug is also very costly. One bottle of 15 pills ranges anywhere from $25 to $45 dollars.
Nick Likos was draining his and his wife’s accounts to maintain his addiction.
Likos said, “I have maxed out all of our credit cards. I had a car that was paid off, that I refinanced to pay off those credit cards. In turn, I maxed them out in a month.”
Nick came clean to his wife Barbara when the addictions were too expensive. Now the couple is spreading their message so others don’t fall victim.
“The lies, the destruction you’re doing to your body. Nobody has any idea what you’re doing to your body. It’s not FDA regulated,” said Nick’s wife, Barbara Likos.
Lawmakers have drafted a bill to make the main ingredient in Tianaa, tianeptine, a schedule II drug. This would mean the drug would no longer be allowed in gas stations, or anywhere. It’d be illegal to possess, purchase, or distribute.
To read the full bill, click here.
If you or someone you know has struggled with addiction to Tianaa or other products containing tianeptine and would like to share your story, please email Malique at firstname.lastname@example.org.