KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Madisonville Police Department recently confiscated more than 50 bottles of a Tianeptine from local convenience store shelves after over-the-counter sales of the substance were banned in Tennessee.

Tianeptine, which is marketed as an antidepressant, became illegal to sell over the counter in Tennessee as of July 1st. The new law applies to all possible substances meant to replicate tianeptine.

It’s commonly sold under brand names like ‘Zaza Red’ or ‘Tiana’ and it negatively impacted the lives of many in our community, according to one woman who works with those with drug addictions.

Page Holtzclaw runs True Purpose Restoration Place, a rehab center for those dealing with drug addictions.

“It’s the same characteristics as someone who’s on heroin or a high-level opioid,” she said.

Holtzclaw added some of the symptoms include, “nodding out, drowsy, change in personality.”

Senator Mike Bell, District 9 (R) sponsored Senate Bill 1997 that made the drug illegal. 

“Other states have scheduled it where it can only be gotten by prescription and that’s what we did as well,” he said. 

“A lot of people are using it to try and get off heroin or other hard drugs, other hard opioids,” Holtzclaw said. “But after they get off that, they just find themselves trying to get off of the Zaza, but stuck in withdraws again.”

She added that she’s seen the drug ruin lives firsthand,

“Getting it off the shelves in all the surrounding counties is what’s best for a whole lot of people because it’s not helping anyone. It is just keeping people stuck.”

Madisonville Police Department is doing just that by checking in on all convenience stores within the city limits.

Five out of the 13 stores checked still had Za Za on their shelves and more than 50 bottles were confiscated. Holtzclaw said this is a step in the right direction to get Zaza red off the streets.

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“We know that  all it does is keep addicts in a cycle and it needs to be removed.”

The new law places the drug Zaza under the dangerous controlled drug act as a scheduled 2 illegal narcotic. Anyone who is caught illegally selling or in possession of Za za could be fined with a class a misdemeanor. This carries up to 11 months, 29 days in jail, and/or fines up to $2,500.