Phenibut Abuse and Addiction

Phenibut abuse and addiction can occur when someone uses this substance, which is marketed and sold as a supplement in the United States. Phenibut abuse occurs because of the effects the substance has on the brain, and in particular, the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Along with phenibut abuse and addiction, dependence can occur as well. When someone is dependent on phenibut, withdrawal symptoms have the potential to be severe.

What Is Phenibut?

So, what is phenibut? Phenibut is used as a supplement and recreational drug in the United States. In countries such as Russia, phenibut is available as a prescription medication for the treatment of anxiety disorders, stress and insomnia.

Since phenibut is not a controlled substance in the United States, there are no regulations as far as how it’s marketed, sold or available. Someone can purchase it online and consume it as they please because there aren’t guidelines as to dosages or any similar safety information.

In the United States, people take phenibut as a nootropic. Nootropics are supposed to be supplements and substances that improve cognitive function and ability, although there’s often little research to back these claims. People may also take phenibut to reduce anxiety, including social anxiety, help them relax and help them fall asleep.

Phenibut likely affects the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor sites in the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. Phenibut’s structure is similar to GABA as is its function, meaning it calms overexcitement in the brain. When phenibut activates GABA receptor sites, it can create a similar calming effect, reducing anxiety and invoking a sense of calm.

Phenibut was first available in the early 1960s in Russia, for patients undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Is Phenibut Addictive?

There is the potential for phenibut abuse to occur and this can include addiction, although psychological addiction is fairly uncommon. Any time a substance affects the brain, as phenibut does, there exists the potential for addiction to develop, although the chance of addiction developing from phenibut use is slim.

People can also become psychologically dependent on phenibut for different reasons. For example, phenibut is frequently used to ease social anxiety and is combined with other substances such as alcohol to increase the effects of the substances. Over time, someone who self-medicates to alleviate social anxiety may find they aren’t able to be in social situations without doing so.

When someone is addicted to phenibut, they may develop a tolerance quickly. Initial doses will no longer produce the same effects, so they will take higher doses. Without phenibut, someone may feel fatigued, groggy or deal with a lack of motivation. Signs of phenibut addiction can also include changes in mood and behavior, vomiting and constipation.

Why Is Phenibut Addictive?

People tend to wonder why is phenibut addictive. Phenibut affects GABA receptor sites and can change the function of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which is one reason it can be addictive. Phenibut physical dependence is even more likely than psychological addiction.

Phenibut dependence can occur relatively quickly — sometimes after using the substance only a few times. In such a situation, a person may have phenibut withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Cognitive deficits or brain fog
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations

Finding Help for Phenibut Addiction

Unfortunately, people think that a substance like phenibut is safe or not addictive because it isn’t a controlled substance in the United States. This belief can lead to serious health consequences. If you are struggling with phenibut addiction or dependence, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake can help. Contact a representative at The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake to learn about treatment programs for substance use disorders. You can achieve a substance-free life, call today to get started.

Hardman, Matthew I, Sprung, Juraj, and Weingarten, Toby N. “Acute phenibut withdrawal: A comprehensive literature review and illustrative case report.” Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.