What is Zaza Red?

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Zaza Red is a drug that was originally formulated as an antidepressant and is now marketed as a dietary supplement.  Nicknamed “gas station heroin Zaza,” the Zaza Red high can be compared to the euphoric effects associated with opioids when taken in large doses. The active ingredient in Zaza Red is tianeptine.  

Avenues Recovery, top in the rehab field, explores the history of this drug and explains how to recognize its overdose and withdrawal symptoms.

The History of Zaza

Back in 2019, an Alabama toxicologist was confronted by an outbreak of patients in the ER. The patients were suffering from “gas station dope” withdrawal. The mystery substance was causing severe withdrawal symptoms, and often the patients were admitted to the ICU. At the time, little was known about Zaza Red, the drug causing the symptoms. Searching for answers, the toxicologist turned to users’ reports on Reddit for more answers. He discovered accounts of people who spoke of taking the Zaza drug to “feel okay.” The Zaza pills seemed to be a replacement for prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds for many people.  Further research on his part led to a published review of this substance and the adverse Zaza drug effects. This created legislature in Alabama to get Zaza Red off the shelves and sounded the alarm across the country on this emerging drug trend.

From the years 2014-2019, the use of Zaza the gas station drug increased “24-fold’’. The drug is used by those seeking relief from depressive symptoms. Available for purchase at gas stations, it’s been the latest trend in a concerning track of dangerous gas station drugs. It is also available for purchase online and in many local convenience stores.

What Are Tianeptine Pills?

Tianeptine is an antidepressant that works on atypical centers in the brain. Doctors have also prescribed it for asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Upon entering the brain, tianeptine binds to opioid receptors, enhancing serotonin absorption and simultaneously maintaining the availability of dopamine in the brain. The result is a mood boost and relief from depressive symptoms. However, the drug is addictive since it affects the brain’s reward system. The drug is prescribed but closely monitored in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. In the U.S., the FDA has not approved tianeptine due to its addictive qualities. The substance has made it into pills marketed as weight loss medications called Zaza Red.

What Is the Zaza Red Pill?  

Tianna Red, Tianna White, Tianna, gas station heroin, and Zaza Red are all street names for tianeptine. Marketed as weight loss pills, they are sold over the counter throughout the United States. Consumers report improved cognitive function and “feeling okay” as effects of the drug.

What is Zaza Slang for?

Zaza is slang for “exotic” weed, usually referring to a particularly potent and high-quality strain of marijuana.

What Does Zaza Look Like, and Where Can It Be Bought?

The Zaza pills come in small red and white capsules and can be found online, in gas stations, and in convenience stores. The drug contains a low dose of Tianeptine, between 25-30mg. However, users often consume far larger quantities to obtain the euphoric effect of a “Zaza Red high.”

Addiction to Tianeptine Pills or Powder

The FDA’s concern about the addictive quality of tianeptine has been well-founded. Since the drug’s mechanism works on opioid receptors and dopamine, the potential for addiction is high. The body craves the drug when it isn’t present and associates it with feelings of pleasure. Therefore, the drug contains a high potential for abuse. Not only has it been proven to be addictive, but it also has the potential to be a gateway to other opioid abuse. Studies have found that far more males use tianeptine pills than females. Long-term use of the drug can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Zaza Withdrawal Like?

Once tianeptine leaves the user’s system, withdrawal symptoms set in. The longer and more frequently one has been using the drug, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

What Is The Zaza Red Half-Life?

The half-life of the tianeptine in Zaza Red is 2.5 hours, which causes withdrawal symptoms to set in quickly. Tianeptine is rapidly broken down in the blood, therefore it has a short half-life compared to other drugs. This increases the chances of cravings during withdrawal.  Tianeptine withdrawal symptoms often mimic those of opioids since the drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain.

What Are The Zaza Side Effects?

The tianeptine or Zaza Red side effects range from concerning to the risk of fatality in extreme cases.

Common Zaza drug effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Body aches
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Abnormal body movements

While not common, studies have found the potential for psychotic symptoms upon withdrawal in some cases.

Tianeptine Overdose Symptoms

Symptoms of overdose from tianeptine typically set in about two hours after the last dose and can often be extreme. The physical symptoms and agitation can be challenging to manage. If someone experiences extreme symptoms, they should immediately go to the nearest emergency room. Some patients have been admitted to the ICU to manage symptoms.

How Long Does Tianeptine Withdrawal Last?

Tianeptine withdrawal typically lasts a week. However, symptoms can start later than expected and last longer.

Early withdrawal stage - During the first few days of tianeptine withdrawal, flu-like symptoms will occur. This can include muscle aches, runny nose, watery eyes, and increased anxiety, insomnia, and agitation. These symptoms can last 1-3 days, depending on the person.

Late withdrawal stage - During this stage, a person may experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, cravings, and depression. These symptoms may carry on for a few more days.

Although not common, some patients experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) after quitting tianeptine Zaza Red use. This usually occurs when the person is using another opioid. Symptoms of PAWS can be challenging to manage and last a few months.

In What States Is Tianeptine Illegal?

While the FDA has not approved tianeptine, it is still legal to purchase in most states. A few states have taken measures to control the substance.

The following states have restricted the use of Zaza Red.

  • Alabama
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia

Does Zaza Red Show up on Drug Screens? 

One of the issues doctors confront when treating patients with Tianeptine overdoses is that it does not show up on a drug screen. The drug is metabolized as TCA, a compound not tested for in most drug screens.

Zaza Red Alternative Options

Zaza Red is another cautionary tale of the dangers of gas station drugs. Like many of its predecessors, the drug has numerous unwanted and unaccounted-for side effects. Those who are looking for a solution to depressive symptoms, anxiety, or cognitive function should consult a doctor, and appropriate medication can be prescribed. As for weight loss, the FDA cautions against marketed “miracle drugs”, and a balanced approach to weight loss is recommended. As one can see, the risks associated with Zaza Red and other gas station drugs are too high. The safer, slower alternatives carry fewer risks and can give real results.

Zaza Red Treatment Plan

Now that you know what Zaza is, it can be easier to identify in the future. If you or a loved one are struggling with Zaza Red addiction, reach out to Avenues Recovery for a variety of confidential, professional, and effective treatment plans. Our team has extensive experience with tianeptine withdrawal and drug detox treatment and is eager to help you take your first step toward healing.

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