BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WBMA) — A surge in overdoses has law enforcement across the state concerned about a brand of supplements available at gas stations and smoke shops.
Florida-based MT Brands markets Phrenze Red as "designed to help boost your mood and chill without the crash. But too much of it can cause some very serious side effects.
"Any of these products could be life threatening, especially in combination with other medications or drugs," warns Ann Slattery, Director Alabama Poison Information Center.
As of last week the center has had 16 calls since mid-March. Blount County EMS has also seen an alarming surge.
"We are getting multiple calls a day anywhere from 3 or 6 to 7 overdoses and sometimes it's two people," remarks Blount EMS Operations Manager Weslie Powell.
With four overdoses in one week Snead Police put out an alert to the public. One person needed to be put on a ventilator, another sent for psychiatric help.
"They were out of their mind, didn't know what they were doing. Most concerning are the calls that come in the person is unresponsive and not breathing," says Powell.
He says people are looking for a "cheap high." They've even had cases of people drinking paint thinner and water to get high. Powell explains the problems are crossing all socio economic levels and genders.
And unlike opioid overdoses Narcan won't help to revive the person. Powell says the biggest issue comes when people use too much, not following the dose directions. "It gives a high then knocks out the respiratory drive," explains Powell.
Phrenze Red became popular after the state reclassified Tianeptine. It's no longer available over the counter. That dietary supplement sold under the Tianna and ZaZa Red brands had opioid like effects leading to addiction according to doctors. So now some users are turning to Phrenze.
The ingredients in Phrenzie Red, phenibut and kava extract, can cause a number of side effects including sedation, confusion, psychosis, withdrawal, addiction and liver damage according to health experts.
But since it's so easily available at gas stations and convenience stores many assume there's no risk. "They are just sitting out there, so they don't look as dangerous as they are," warns Slattery.
We found the products in the local area sell for about $25. ABC3340 News tried to reach the distributor for comment and have not heard back by news time.
If you have questions about any product, poison control is open 24/7. Calls are confidential.
Call (800) 222-1222
Before taking any dietary supplement talk with your doctor.