Phenibut Abuse and Addiction: The Dangers of this Nootropic and How to Recover

Phenibut abuse is becoming more rampant in the United States, and while this supplement is easy to get, it can become addictive. That concept is a foreign one to many people because they tend to believe that all supplements are safe. That is not necessarily the case, and this one is among the most dangerous of them all.

For those who become addicted to Phenibut, it can feel as though they are trapped. It is a very difficult substance to quit once a person starts taking it, and addiction can happen quickly. Fortunately, there are ways for people to recover, but many do not know where to turn to get the help they need.

We feel that it is important to spread the word about Phenibut so that more people know of its dangers. They need to know the potential side effects, long-term effects and much more. In fact, the more they know about it, they more eager they may become to get the help they need to get off it and recover.

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.

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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.

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 Detox and Withdrawal Treatment

Successfully treating any type of addiction means addressing withdrawal symptoms first and foremost. The best treatment centers should aim to treat the physical part of the problem, which means going through drug detox.

The goal of drug detox is to help the patient get through withdrawal. This is done by lessening the severity of symptoms, and sometimes it can mean shortening their duration. Medical detox is often recommended for people who are addicted to Phenibut. A doctor will prescribe various types of medications to help them with their withdrawal symptoms. Of course, this should also be combined with holistic treatments to improve their overall health and well-being. This will also allow the kidneys and liver to function at a higher level during the detoxification process.

There are several signs of withdrawal that are common for those who stop taking Phenibut. They can include:

  • Feeling agitated
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Problems with focusing or brain fog
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • A reduction in appetite
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Feelings of fear

Some of these symptoms begin very quickly after the last dose of Phenibut. Others may take longer to develop as more of the drug leaves the body.

It can take a very long time to get off Phenibut once the detox process has started. For those who choose to quit without treatment, withdrawal can last for months, or even up to a year. For those who decide to get help and go through drug detox, the process should be faster.

There are some experts who claim that Phenibut withdrawal should only last for about two weeks. But there are others who state that it might take as long as 24 weeks.

The Phenibut withdrawal timeline is based on a number of different factors. For someone who has taken the drug on a short-term basis and only in smaller doses, recovery will be much easier than someone who has not. Those who have taken it long-term and in higher doses will take longer to get through the detox process.

People have many options available to them when it comes to choosing a quality drug detox program. But the safest method to stop using a substance like Phenibut is to enter into an inpatient detoxification center. There, patients are monitored closely for any complications that can arise during this part of recovery. Doctors can make any treatment changes quickly if something does not appear to be working well for the patient.

Alternatively, there are outpatient detox programs, but they are not considered safe by many in the addiction treatment field. They may provide prescriptions for medications to help with withdrawal symptoms, but the patient monitoring aspect is missing.

Rapid detox is another method that has grown in popularity, but again, there are safety concerns. The treatment involves placing the patient under general anesthesia while medications are given to them through an IV. The medications clear the drug from the patient’s body at a very fast rate. Some of these procedures are over in as little as one hour, which is certainly an attractive quality. But again, there are serious risks involved.

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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.

Phenibut Addiction Recovery is Available to You

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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