JOPLIN, Mo. — We’ve all heard about the ongoing battle many patients have with opioid addiction. And — there’s a new substance, sold over-the-counter– that can have similar challenges and risks.

“We had some patients come in to us in our detox unit when they were going through opioid withdrawal, but they didn’t have opioid in their system,” said Dr. Nauman Ashraf, New Directions Addiction Med. Fellowship Program. “So when he asked and they said, ‘Yeah, there’s a new thing available on gas stations, and they call it Tianaa.'”

The drug’s official name is tianeptine. It’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for any medical use. But it is still sold as a dietary supplement or with other unsubstantiated claims.

“It’s approved outside the U.S. In Europe, it’s used for depression and anxiety. It’s a tricyclic antidepressant, is not approved by FDA in the U.S. What that means is that anybody can then compound it as a dietary supplement and can sell it because the FDA is not regulating it,” said Dr. Ashraf.

The effects can be similar to a weak dose of opioids, meaning it can cause health problems or an addiction — or worse.

“If you’re using any other compounds that depress your breathing, like say opioids or alcohol or benzo, and you mix it with tianna right, potentially it can be fatal.”

Some patients even take it to help with opioid withdrawal, which can have dangerous results. The Ozark Center New Directions Clinic is a better choice.

“Then we’ll be happy to help you with your disease,” said Dr. Ashraf. “You can call 417-347-7730. You can do the walk-in clinic. It’s at 3320 Wisconsin Avenue in Joplin and from Tuesday ’til Friday. We have doctors that will see you the same day.”