Phenibut Abuse and Addiction: Washington State Recovery and Treatment Options

People are often surprised to learn how common Phenibut addiction and abuse are in Washington State. This nootropic is “just” a supplement, but treatment may be needed to stop using it successfully. It is not uncommon for people to be shocked to find out that it can be dangerous and even addictive when it is used long-term.

When people get addicted to Phenibut, they often feel as though they were trapped. It does not take long to form an addiction to it, and some do within just a few weeks of taking it regularly. Going without it for even a short period of time can quickly lead to withdrawal symptoms. People are typically eager to take it again just to get the withdrawal to subside; even temporarily.

So many people are completely unaware of the dangers and addictive nature of Phenibut. We want to do our part to make them more aware of the risks, and also to let them know that they can recover. Washington State has so much to offer in the way of addiction recovery options, and people need to know there is hope.

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What is Phenibut?

Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant that has some stimulant effects. People take it for a number of reasons, and they assume it is safe because it is a supplement, and not an illegal drug.

It is often sold under various brand names, such as Fenibut, Noofen and Anvifen.

In the body, Phenibut acts as a full agonist of the GABA receptor, and it is similar to Baclofen. When it is taken in higher doses, it acts as an agonist of the GABA receptor. This is the one that responds when a person drinks alcohol, or takes barbiturates or benzodiazepines.

Even though it does have therapeutic uses, Phenibut is often used recreationally. It does produce sensations of euphoria, and people like it because they believe it makes them more social. It can take a few doses before people experience the full effects because the body has to take some time to acclimate to it. Many first-time users believe that it does not work for them, but after subsequent doses, it does.

Phenibut has been around since the 1960s, and it was first developed in the Soviet Union. At that time, it was introduced for medical use. It is not approved for clinical use in the United States, but it is marketed widely in Russia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. It can be purchased online in the United States and it is marketed as a supplement and nootropic.

This supplement is considered a controlled substance in Australia because of the potential for harmful side effects and abuse. Europe may be reconsidering its legal status as well, and Phenibut has recently gotten a lot of attention from the FDA in the U.S. We will talk more about that in just a moment.

People use Phenibut for many different reasons. It is often used to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear. People have used it to treat insomnia, stress, fatigue and depression as well. There has been some research that indicates that it might work well to treat symptoms of PTSD.

Interestingly enough, sometimes alcoholics choose to start taking Phenibut because it can help with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. This is purely speculation because there have been no studies done to confirm its efficacy for this purpose.

A lot of people gravitate to Phenibut because they have heard it called a “smart drug.” It does have a reputation of helping people improve their levels of focus and concentration. It also improves energy levels.

The answer to this question is, yes. It can be. There are people all over the United States that cannot help but tout the benefits of Phenibut. Many take it religiously, but they do not realize how easy it is to become dependent upon it. In fact, addiction and dependence are two of the most common side effects of taking it. People often form a physical dependence to it quickly, and after just a few doses of it, they usually find that they have formed a tolerance.

As with other drugs, the longer a person takes it, the bigger the risk is that they will become addicted to it. Also, at lower doses, Phenibut tends to act as a depressant, and it is relatively safe. But when people take higher doses because of tolerance, this triggers effects that are more euphoric and energizing. This is also when addiction is more likely to take place.

In one case study on Phenibut dependence, a patient was using the drug to self-medicate. He suffered from anxiety and insomnia, and he had intense cravings for alcohol. Initially, it gave him relief from his symptoms, but eventually he developed a dependence on it. He was experiencing a growing tolerance, and he would go through withdrawal within three or four hours after his last dose. He was losing productivity at work and at home. He finally got treatment and received the help he needed to get off the drug.

Phenibut Addiction

Does Phenibut Have Side Effects?

Most drugs – and even supplements – carry a list of side effects. Phenibut is no exception. When people take it, they generally experience both physical and psychological effects from it. There are also some dangerous side effects that can occur, which people need to be made aware of.

The most common side effects of Phenibut include:

  • Feeling sedated
  • Feeling irritable and agitated
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Having an allergic reaction
  • Nausea

When the drug is taken at higher doses, all of the above may be present as well as a few other, more concerning side effects. It is not uncommon for these individuals to experience hangovers, motor impairment and loss of coordination and balance.

The most dangerous side effects of Phenibut are the risks of tolerance leading to dependence and addiction. Some people who take it are in danger of becoming severely depressed as a result. Withdrawal symptoms can develop quickly; even when not much time has passed since the last dose.

According to the website, Erowid, one user posted the following review after using Phenibut:

At approximately 10 PM, I ingested 16,000 mg or 16 grams of Phenibut HCL. I felt a good buzz, but quickly fell asleep around 2 am. Next day I wake up high as a kite. I was quite happy, talking enthusiastically with anyone. Needless to say, my family was intrigued. After eating breakfast, a very strong wave of nausea hit me like a brick. I spent the morning energized, then bedridden for a few hours until the nausea subsided. Thankfully I didn’t vomit, however when I would stand up for an hour, the nausea would come back. My balance was really thrown off by this point, and I’m not sure how I was able to escape without losing my stomach contents.

I was extremely nauseous for hours on end, dizzy, and had horrible coordination and balance…At 11 PM, the nausea came back with full force. I was still in my bed trying to deal with the pain, probably went to sleep around 4 AM, it was that bad. Overall, a very negative experience that will last a LONG time (I still felt the effects for over 3 ½ days).

Phenibut in the News

Phenibut is a supplement that has caused a lot of controversy over the last few years. Many experts are very concerned about how addictive it is, and they fear that people are not being warned of that. It may not be very long before the FDA issues a ban on the substance.

Four different organizations released a joint statement warning people about the dangers of Phenibut. These organizations were the United Natural Products Alliance, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the American Herbal Products Association. They stated that it was being illegally marketed in products that were incorrectly labeled as dietary supplements.

The warnings they issued were very clear. People who use Phenibut typically develop a quick tolerance, which is one of the most common signs of addiction. Their tolerance leads them to use more of it to get the desired effects. Stopping it can result in severe withdrawal, which is another sign that a person has gotten addicted.

The FDA recently issued an announcement regarding unlawful ingredients in dietary supplements. In their press release, they state:

While many dietary supplements meet the FDA’s standards, there are some companies who knowingly distribute and sell dangerous or otherwise illegal products that put consumers at risk. As the agency entrusted with the oversight of dietary supplements, we will not stand by and allow these companies to compromise the health of the very people who are seeking out supplements to aid in their well-being.

The press release goes on to say that the FDA has issued warnings to three different companies for marketing dietary supplements that contain Phenibut. They claim that the products are mislabeled because they present the drug as a dietary ingredient. It does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient. The companies have 15 days from the date of the letter to respond by informing the FDA of their intent to reach compliance.

Clearly, if the FDA is that concerned, they must have a reason to be. It is a dangerous supplement that should be avoided.

Considering the fact that there are many supplements that contain harmful ingredients, it can be impossible to identify them. That puts a lot of consumers at risk who may try them as a way to improve their health. But the FDA has created a new tool called the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List. It is a great reference for the general public because it includes ingredients that people may want to avoid ingesting.

Phenibut does not currently meet the FDA’s standards as a lawful dietary ingredient. Although they do send out warning letters to companies selling products that contain it, this tool is an added source of help. It allows consumers to take a proactive stance in understanding which ingredients might be harmful for them.

The Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List is constantly being fine-tuned to remove and add new ingredients as necessary. It is a wonderful resource for anyone who is new to using supplements, but it can also be eye-opening to those who have used them for years.

How Can Abusing This Drug Lead to a Phenibut Addiction?

When a person begins taking Phenibut, as long as they take a low dose, it should be relatively safe. But there can be issues once they begin increasing their dosage amount.

In addition to interacting with the body’s GABA receptor, Phenibut also results in higher dopamine levels. That is what leads to the experience of euphoria with higher doses. Dopamine is a chemical that naturally occurs in the body, and it is what makes people feel happy. When they take this supplement, those levels are increased dramatically, and as the abuse continues, those higher levels become a person’s new normal.

As Phenibut begins to leave the body, something like a “dopamine crash” takes place in someone who is addicted. Their brains are no longer to make the chemical on their own because they have relied on the drug so long to do it for them. This is how abusing this supplement can and does lead to an addiction for so many people.

When a person is addicted to a drug or supplement like Phenibut, they often display certain signs. They can be physical, psychological or behavioral, but they all indicate that a person has a substance abuse problem in need of treatment.

Some of the more common signs of addiction include:

  • Bizarre behaviors; usually the person is either too active or not active enough.
  • Strange speech patterns.
  • Dilated pupils or redness in the eyes.
  • A runny nose.
  • Having a pale or undernourished appearance.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of interest in people and/or activities.
  • Financial problems.
  • Obsessing about using substances or obtaining them.
  • Having intense cravings.
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms when no longer using.

It is very common for people with addictions to live their lives in denial. They do not believe that they are addicted, and they feel in complete control of their drug use. These individuals may benefit from talking with an expert and explaining their situations. Many drug rehab programs offer free phone assessments for that reason. They allow them to actually speak with someone who can give them a definitive answer.

But not everyone is ready to speak with a professional, even just to get more information. These individuals may prefer to start by taking an addiction quiz. The one we offer on our site asks a variety of questions about the drug use and then offers results immediately at the end.

Recovering From a Phenibut Addiction

As we mentioned earlier, it can be very difficult to stop taking Phenibut without some form of support. That usually means that people need to get treatment in order to recover from their addictions. There have been some who have done so on their own, but their stories are few and far between. People who attempt to quit without support put themselves at risk for a relapse that could potentially become a deadly overdose.

When it comes to a drug like Phenibut that produces significant withdrawal symptoms, it is important to start there. Withdrawal can be very difficult to get through, and it is the number one reason most will return to using.

Drug Rehabilitation Programs

After a person has gone through detox, they are ready to move on to drug rehab. This is the next phase in recovery, and it is the one that addresses the psychological part of the addiction.

People who become addicted to Phenibut started taking it for a specific reason. For many of them, it was their answer to treating anxiety, pain or even simply stress. They felt that it would help them with their symptoms, and eventually it turned into an addiction.

During drug rehab, people participate in many different types of therapy, but they all have one specific goal – to determine the cause of the addiction. There are so many issues that people have to work through when they are being treated for a substance abuse problem. In most cases, that is not possible without going to drug rehab.

A significant percentage of people who suffer from addictions also have co-occurring disorders. As we mentioned previously, this is typically the case for people who are addicted to Phenibut.

The term co-occurring disorder refers to a mental health diagnosis that the individual may or may not be aware of. People who take Phenibut could be suffering from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or a multitude of other mental health issues.

Some rehabs offer treatment for co-occurring disorders, and it is called dual diagnosis treatment. This allows both conditions to be treated at the same time, and it generally results in better long-term outcomes.

So many people believe that once they have gone through detox and rehab, their recovery journeys have come full circle. It would be wonderful if that was true, but treating an addiction is not so simple. It takes a lot of time, and it is important for people to make their follow-up appointments; even if that means just attending NA meetings. Most of the people who do not are the ones who are most likely to relapse.

What to Expect During Phenibut Addiction Treatment in Washington State

It is normal for people to be concerned about going to drug rehab when it is a new concept for them. So many are shocked to discover that they became addicted to a supplement like Phenibut. For them, the idea of needing treatment was something they never considered. But it helps to know what to expect.

Because Phenibut can lead to withdrawal when it is stopped, detoxing is extremely important. This should always be done on an inpatient basis due to the possibility of complications or emergencies. It may take about a week to detox off this supplement, and then the individual is ready to go to rehab.

During rehab, the goal is to discuss the issues that led to the substance abuse problem. The individual participates in a variety of therapeutic activities and counseling sessions. This can be done on either an inpatient or outpatient basis.

At Northpoint the Evergreen, we have worked with many people who came to us with Phenibut addictions. We have a high-quality outpatient drug rehab program, and it is designed to be personalized to meet each of our client’s individual needs.

Our main focus is on our intensive outpatient program, which is recommended for almost every client we work with. During IOP, our clients participate in group therapy and individual counseling sessions as we work to help them get and stay sober. They come to their appointments several days each week for a few hours each time. This gives us plenty of time to spend with them, working on the issues they are facing.

We have two locations for our clients’ convenience. We have facilities in both Seattle and Bellevue. We also participate in many health insurance plans as well. For many of our clients, their health insurance coverage for outpatient treatment is much better than it is for inpatient programs. This helps us make going to rehab much more affordable, which is extremely important.

At Northpoint the Evergreen, we have worked with many people who came to us with Phenibut addictions. We have a high-quality outpatient drug rehab program, and it is designed to be personalized to meet each of our client’s individual needs.

Our main focus is on our intensive outpatient program, which is recommended for almost every client we work with. During IOP, our clients participate in group therapy and individual counseling sessions as we work to help them get and stay sober. They come to their appointments several days each week for a few hours each time. This gives us plenty of time to spend with them, working on the issues they are facing.

We have two locations for our clients’ convenience. We have facilities in both Seattle and Bellevue. We also participate in many health insurance plans as well. For many of our clients, their health insurance coverage for outpatient treatment is much better than it is for inpatient programs. This helps us make going to rehab much more affordable, which is extremely important.

Because we personalize our treatment plans for our clients, there is a process to beginning rehab. We want to make sure our clients receive all the services they need, and that they are placed in the right level of care. This is why we offer free assessments over the phone before we even meet them.

Once we meet them in person, they are assessed again and their treatment plan is developed. This way, we can ensure they receive our utmost attention. We are invested in our clients’ care.

Learn More About Phenibut Abuse and Addiction Treatment in WA State

It is very sad that so many people are getting addicted to Phenibut – a supplement that is marketed to be safe and effective. Here at Northpoint the Evergreen, we offer the type of treatment that can help people recover and find the freedom they are looking for.

While we do not offer detox services, we do provide referrals for programs we know and trust. People are then encouraged to becoming enrolled in our intensive outpatient program (IOP) for drug rehab.

Do you have additional questions about Phenibut abuse and addiction? We would like to hear them. Please contact us.

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