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Addiction to Over-the-Counter Tianeptine Lands Corinth Businessman in Rehab

Booneville, Miss., resident John Doe (not his real name), 25, vaguely remembers what happened in 2021 when a gas-station employee told him to “try this new thing.” Doe told the Mississippi Free Press on Dec. 16, 2022, that he later purchased Pegasus, the product’s name. It contains Tianeptine, a chemical substance that the French Society of Medical Research discovered and patented in the 1960s.

France and other European countries use Tianeptine to treat depression, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for “any medical use” in the United States and, in fact, warns of “a potential for abuse.“ The Practical Pain Management Journal said that there is “evidence of increasing rates of tianeptine abuse over the past two decades.”

Doe, who is white, runs a business in Corinth, Miss., about 20 miles from Booneville in northeast Mississippi, and agreed to share his story on the condition of anonymity.

“I wouldn’t call it super strong, I guess maybe like a pain pill,” he said of his initial experience after taking the drug. “After a while, it was more of—if you didn’t take it, you knew it, and if you took it, it was like a normal feeling.”

“At the very beginning, there wasn’t like a severe withdrawal effect, but it didn’t take super long to become what I would call dependent, and going without it for some time, the withdrawal symptoms kicked in,” he said. “If it went far enough—like shaking or you may feel nauseous or tense, it would start like a minor headache, like an agitated-type feeling, anxious, I guess might be a word.”

The Food and Drug Administration says using Tianeptine poses a risk of abuse. Logo courtesy FDA

The FDA warns that using Tianeptine can come with the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. “The clinical effects of Tianeptine abuse and withdrawal can mimic opioid toxicity and withdrawal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” the agency reports.

“The FDA has identified cases in which people experienced other serious harmful effects from abusing or misusing Tianeptine by itself or with other

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