Phenibut (β-phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid) is a psychoactive drug that was developed in Russia in the 1960s. It has been and is approved there for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Since Phenibut was never approved by the FDA, it is not available here as a prescription drug. While still unknown to most Americans, phenibut use has increased in recent years due to its widespread availability on the internet. Phenibut can now be easily purchased online as a “dietary supplement”.
Phenibut is used and abused for a variety of purposes. As a central nervous system depressant, it can relieve anxiety and trigger euphoria. This makes it an attractive alternative for people struggling with alcohol or opioid addictions.
It is less sedating than some other anti-anxiety drugs as it has stimulant properties even at low dosages and is reportedly a nootropic. Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, help to increase focus. Because of these combined effects, Phenibut is widely used to reduce social anxiety, become more sociable, and get work or study done.
Unfortunately, phenibut tolerance can develop within weeks of occasional use. This leads people to take increasingly higher doses, increasing the likelihood of a difficult withdrawal experience.
Phenibut is a synthetic designer drug, but its chemical structure is very similar to that of a naturally occurring amino acid called GABA. Since GABA and other amino acids are proteins according to the FDA, GABA is technically a “food” and not a drug. This loophole allows Phenibut, a GABA lookalike, to be legally bought and sold in the United States.If youIf you
People often assume that legal supplements are safer than illegal drugs, even when taken in large doses on a daily basis. Unfortunately this is not the case.
There are many risks with taking unregulated supplements like Phenibut, and the most important among them is the potential for addiction and withdrawal.
Reports of phenibut withdrawal symptoms are so severe that people have to be hospitalized.If youThese symptoms are usually both physical and mental. Symptoms can include severe anxiety and agitation, as well as tremors, nausea, and vomiting. There have been reports of serious psychotic symptoms such as auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.If youIf you
Withdrawal symptoms can occur between several hours and several days after your last dose. Symptoms may be related to an intense desire to use more phenibut.
Signs and symptoms
Phenibut withdrawal is different for everyone. Some people take large daily doses for a year but do not experience withdrawal or see only mild effects. Other people take moderate doses two to three times a week for a few months and have severe symptoms when they try to stop. Still others only take high doses for a few days in a row and end up in the hospital.
Doctors and researchers in this part of the world have little understanding of phenibut withdrawal. It is not easy to spot in the clinical setting and there are no standard treatment protocols.
What little we know about phenibut withdrawal syndrome comes from case reports published in medical journals and self-reported descriptions on online forums.
Withdrawal from Phenibut can begin as soon as three to four hours after your last dose. Acute symptoms can last for several days and are sometimes followed by a longer period of withdrawal.If youThe physical symptoms can be very distressing, but it’s usually the psychological symptoms that lead people to see a doctor.
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Several cases of extreme psychotic symptoms related to phenibut poisoning and withdrawal have been reported. People have come to the emergency room after experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations.If youIf you
One person described seeing dragons, flashes of color, and disturbing sexual images.If youOthers have described a sense of dissociation or a sense of unreality. Delusions, psychosis, and thoughts or acts of suicide have also been reported.If youIf you
If you have thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for the support and assistance of a trained advisor. If you or a loved one is in imminent danger, call 911.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
Many people experience extreme excitement and anxiety. In several of the reported cases of poisoning and withdrawal, both physical and chemical restrictions were necessary for the safety of the patient and medical staff. Three patients needed intravenous sedation so intense that they needed breathing tubes.If youIf you
While these examples are the worst-case scenario, milder psychological symptoms are not uncommon. In online forums, many people describe feeling “going crazy” or “stuck in hell”. People describe panic attacks, depression, thoughts of suicide, and severe insomnia.
Physical symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, and sweating contribute to intense insomnia. Some people even experience “brain zaps” when trying to sleep.
Depression and fatigue are problems for many people who find it difficult to fulfill their normal responsibilities at home, work, or school. Depression and rebound anxiety can persist for several weeks after the acute withdrawal symptoms wear off.
Coping & Relief
If you experience hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or extreme restlessness, see an emergency doctor immediately.
Withdrawal from Phenibut can be severe, so many people opt for drug detoxification. Although there is no standard treatment protocol, there are several medications that can help manage your acute symptoms and increase your chances of successfully coming off Phenibut.
Trying to manage your withdrawal symptoms at home with prescription drugs or supplements is not a good idea. Treatment for phenibut withdrawal is difficult, and people react differently to the drugs available.
Medications that work in some people can make your symptoms worse. Inpatient treatment in a hospital or detoxification clinic ensures access to a wide variety of prescription drugs.
Medications that have been used to treat severe acute symptoms of phenibut withdrawal in inpatient medical settings include the following sedatives and antipsychotics:If youIf you
For people without severe psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, delirium, or restlessness, or medical problems, the following prescription drugs can be taken at home. It is important to work with a doctor to actively manage and gradually reduce these drugs.
- Benzodiazepines (Diazepam, Lorazepam, others)
- Zolpidem, benadryl, or other sleeping pills
Discussions in online forums also include a variety of supplements that may help ease withdrawal for some people. Frequently mentioned supplements include:
The use of all dietary supplements should be discussed with your doctor.
Withdrawal from Phenibut can potentially be very dangerous. Trying to quit a cold turkey could be a very bad idea and increase your risk of seizures, insomnia, and psychosis.
Your best bet is to come up with a plan to quit Phenibut. Inpatient detox is hands down the safest way to quit.
In an inpatient detoxification facility, hospital or addiction clinic, you will be met by a team of specialists who can help you get through withdrawal with the least possible discomfort. Many insurance plans cover detox and addiction treatment.
If you can’t or don’t want to have inpatient treatment, at least see a doctor before stopping. That way, you will be prepared with a rejuvenating plan and prescription medication to treat your symptoms.
If you stop on your own, arrange the first three or four working days. Make sure you have someone to watch you for signs of danger and help you with home chores like looking after children.
Be ready to face resistance in the hospital or doctor’s office. Most doctors in the United States have very little experience with phenibut addiction and withdrawal. Even addiction specialists may not be aware of the severity of phenibut withdrawal. You may need to tell your doctor about phenibut. So make sure there is an article or case report saved on your phone. Better yet, print one out.
Long term treatment
Many people with phenibut addiction need a long-term treatment plan. Long-term addiction treatment focuses on preventing relapse. Relapses are common in Phenibut users who may go months without the drug and then decide that they are “ready” to treat it again in small doses or only for occasional use. This type of thinking typically leads straight back to addiction and addiction.
Your long-term treatment plan must take into account any current or previous addictions to other drugs or alcohol. If you use phenibut to stop drinking, discontinuing phenibut increases the risk of relapse with alcohol.
Research shows that drug addicts generally need a longer period of sobriety to successfully quit.
If you are concurrently suffering from alcohol use or other substance use disorders, treatment is an ongoing process that you will have to grapple with over many years, especially during periods of high stress.If youIf you
There is another group of people who may need more specialized care. If you use phenibut to treat anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, these symptoms are likely to return after withdrawal. It is imperative that you seek treatment for these underlying disorders. Otherwise, there is a risk of relapse with phenibut or other non-therapeutic drugs.
Evidence-based treatments for single or multi-substance disorders include different combinations of psychotherapy and drugs.If youThe same applies to people with drug abuse and psychological problems occurring at the same time.
Behavioral therapy can take several forms. You can work with a therapist, psychologist, or prescribing psychiatrist. Many people benefit from inpatient treatment programs that offer the opportunity to stay in a healing setting for several weeks after their withdrawal.
Other people prefer outpatient treatment. Often behavior therapy is supplemented by peer-based self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.
Phenibut addiction isn’t widely understood or recognized, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. Check out this message board that is full of people going through the same thing as you: r / quittingphenibut.
When you’re ready to seriously quit, first make an appointment with your family doctor, psychiatrist, or local health clinic. Your doctor can help you find the best place for treatment. Look for a place where your insurance is accepted.
Use this searchable directory of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) to find a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment. You can also call the SAMHSA national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
A word from Verywell
When you first looked for phenibut, you didn’t want to pick up another addiction. Perhaps you have helped get rid of alcohol, kratom, or benzos in the past. Maybe you are very scared. Whatever your reasons, expect these problems to recur during and after your Phenibut withdrawal.
It gets tough and symptoms can last for weeks, but you will get by. Once the fog clears and the withdrawals are over, with the right support you can live your life.