Gas station drugs hard to control, could pose public health threat

(Source: WSFA)
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:37 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The state of Alabama is cracking down on substances commonly found at gas stations that are known to mimic high-powered drugs.

The substances are not typically regulated and can make people sick, high, or even psychotic. That’s because there’s no way of knowing how much of a given ingredient is in some of those brightly colored packets and bottles, or even what it really is.

“It’s being sold as an herbal supplement, or an energy supplement, but it affects the opioid receptors in the brain,” said Virginia Guy, executive director of the Drug Education Council.

The most recent example is Tianeptine, banned in Alabama recently, and before that, Kratom. The craze really took off after “spice.”

“It can cause psychosis, acute psychological distress, all the way to overdoses,” said Guy.

Tianeptine has been cited in almost 1,000 poison control center calls, and even three deaths, per Consumer Reports.

Officials have a hard time keeping up with the latest gas station drug trends.

“They tweak it just a little bit and put it back out as a product that is no longer illegal,” explained Guy.

Guy says law enforcement conducts random checks, but sometimes gas station owners just don’t know the risks.

“I often say just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe,” Guy warns consumers.

She advises talking to a doctor about anything you take or consider taking.

She’s also spoken to some gas station owners who decide to take gas station drugs off their shelves after learning the danger.

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