HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Tianaa Red, Tianaa White, Za Za Red: these names may not mean anything to you.
But for some, they are painful reminders of addiction and loss.
They’re dietary supplements, not approved by the FDA, sold at convenience stores.
If you take enough, some say it gives off a high, similar to heroine.
On Tuesday, we told you about a bill in Montgomery trying to get them off store shelves, but a state committee may beat them to it.
Phillip Hundley says if it weren’t for the Tianaa pills, two of his friends he met at His Way would still be here today.
The pills are marketed as a dietary supplement and contain the drug tianeptine. It’s used to treat depression in some countries.
But when you take too much at one time, it works like an opioid and can cause addiction and withdrawals.
The problem? You can find them behind the counter at most gas stations.
Hundley says he knows many who have become addicts.
“It just kind of set the stage to relapse on heroin. Cause that’s the closest thing that the Tianaas feel like,” Hundley said.
Phillip Hundley is no stranger to addiction.
“I was on meth for 20 years and there were times that I thought that I was going to die doing meth. Not as a result of the drug, I just did not think I was ever going to get off of it,” he said.
He came to His Way to get clean last May.
That’s where he met multiple people, including his friend Jon Brown, who used the supplement to fill a void.
“Just the availability of the Tianaas just made it so easy for him to slip right back into addiction,” Hundley said.
Rather than get through the withdrawal period, Hundley says two of his friends switched to the Tianaas.
The pills cost between $18 and $34 a bottle and do not show up on a drug test.
“It’s just living agony for a few weeks. A sober, logical person would see that and think, just go through the two weeks and get over it, but it’s not that easy,” Hundley said.
Brown’s father says his son was making remarkable progress, but if Tianna wasn’t easily available, he would have rid himself of his addiction and not relapsed on heroin after leaving the program.
“It’s my belief that they would be alive today if it weren’t for the Tiannas,” Hundley said.
If they are pulled from the shelves on March 15, Hundley hopes those addicted will get help.
“There’s out patient programs, there’s the rediscovery down at the Saving Way Thrift Store down on University. Seek help because addiction isn’t something that you can overcome by yourself,” he said.
The state committee with the State Board of Health voted to make tianeptine a Schedule II drug in January, banning it from stores.
If the ban goes through without being challenged, it won’t need legislation to be illegal.
It would mean tianeptine products would be banned come March 15.