What Is Phenibut?

Phenibut is marketed in the U.S. as an herbal supplement. In some places like Russia, it’s a prescription drug used for the treatment of anxiety. Phenibut is classified as a GABA agonist, and it has a calming effect on brain activity. GABA is a brain neurotransmitter responsible for reducing neural overactivity and reducing feelings of anxiety. Phenibut is also helpful for conditions like social anxiety because it can reduce over-thinking and self-consciousness. Along with treating anxiety, it is used in countries outside the U.S. to treat depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Despite the fact that phenibut is not approved in the U.S., it is still sold online as a supplement and even as a nootropic. Nootropics are so-called “smart” substances that marketers say help with cognitive function. While some people do find benefits with the use of phenibut, it’s unregulated and can cause negative side effects. Phenibut has the potential to be psychologically addictive, and it is likely people who regularly use it will develop a physical dependence. Often people will see phenibut labeled as natural or as a supplement and think that means it’s automatically safe and healthy, which isn’t necessarily true. One area of discussion is phenibut for opiate withdrawal. People wonder if phenibut could have benefits to ease uncomfortable symptoms that occur when abstaining from drug usage.

Understanding Opiate Withdrawal

Opiates and opioids are a class of drugs prescribed to alleviate pain. This class also includes heroin. Opioids are incredibly addictive. Even when people use opioids under the direction of a physician, addiction is possible. Opiates and opioids affect the brain and central nervous system by activating certain receptors. Then, these receptors trigger a flood of dopamine into the brain of the person taking the drug. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasant feelings, which is why people feel high even while using prescription opioids. Unfortunately, that high often begins a cycle of addiction. Addiction is a psychological disease, where the use of opioids becomes compulsive. Someone addicted to opioids no longer has control over their use.

Physical dependence is a separate side effect of opiate and opioid use. Dependence doesn’t have to occur with addiction, but it can. When someone is dependent on opiates or opioids, their body needs them to function “normally.” If someone tries to suddenly stop using opiates after they’ve become dependent, they will likely go through withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. While they’re not typically life-threatening, symptoms are extremely uncomfortable. Even if someone is prescribed opioids for just a few weeks to treat acute pain, their doctor will usually taper down the dosage rather than having them stop cold turkey.

Medically-Assisted Detox

For people who want to stop misusing opiates or opioids, they will first have to detox from these substances fully. Detox is the time when you abstain from the substances you’re dependent on, and they are cleansed from your system. Due to the uncomfortable symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal, many people are unsuccessful when detoxing on their own without medical care. A medical detox means a person has access to medical and alternative treatments that will help them be more comfortable during detox. This increases the chances of a long-term recovery.

Unfortunately, some people believe they can self-medicate through opiate detox. That’s why there are questions about using phenibut for opiate withdrawal. Antidotal stories are circulating online about people who detoxed from opiates using phenibut. Phenibut could theoretically help with psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety; while it may temporarily help with some of the symptoms, there are also risks. For example, phenibut isn’t approved for use in the U.S., and especially not as a medication-assisted treatment for opiate detox.

Most people who use phenibut also develop a physical dependence. A person using phenibut for opiate detox may end up becoming dependent on the phenibut and having to go through another detox from it. Despite possible benefits, there are so many unknowns. Phenibut has yet to be fully researched, and it is especially lacking within the context of opioid withdrawal.

The best thing to do for opiate withdrawal is to contact a professional treatment facility. The Recovery Village offers extensive detox and treatment options so that people can move safely and comfortably through withdrawal, paving the way for a successful recovery.

Treating Opiate Addiction

Opiate addiction does not have to be a journey taken alone. With help from resources like The Recovery Village, you will be one step closer to a healthier life and a successful recovery. Let our team of trained medical professionals guide you to the best treatment program to address your needs. In time and with support, you too can gain the skills necessary to help overcome your addiction.

Read Previous
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.