Phenibut is a substance that acts as a central nervous system depressant. Phenibut is classified as a gabapentinoid, and when someone uses this substance, it has anxiety-reducing, sedating, relaxing and sometimes euphoric effects. In countries like Russia, phenibut has long been available as a prescription drug. As a prescription medication, phenibut is used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia and PTSD. In the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, phenibut is not regulated or controlled. It’s legal to possess and use phenibut, but it has to be purchased online in the U.S. Phenibut is marketed as a nootropic. Nootropics are supposed to be supplements that improve cognition or have positive effects on thinking.
For many people, phenibut is used as a way to self-medicate various conditions. As an example, phenibut is often used by people who have a social anxiety disorder. Some people say they experience less anxiety and negative thoughts as well as increased sociability when they take phenibut. Phenibut works on the brain of the person taking it by activating GABA receptors. It’s considered a GABA agonist. GABA is a naturally-occurring brain transmitter that calms neural activity and allows a person to feel more relaxed. Unlike some other kinds of GABA supplements, phenibut can cross the blood-brain barrier, which is one of the reasons it can have such significant effects on some people. Along with affecting GABA receptors, phenibut is believed to increased dopamine levels in the brain, contributing to the positive feelings people have when using this substance.
Despite what some believe to be benefits, phenibut isn’t without risks. There are mild side effects such as nausea, dizziness and sedation. There can also be a more serious problem, which is the development of tolerance, dependence and addiction. When people take phenibut often, they may develop a tolerance and need higher doses to feel effects. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of becoming dependent or addicted. If someone is dependent on phenibut and they stop cold turkey, withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, insomnia and more.
It’s not uncommon to mix phenibut with other substances, for a couple of reasons. One reason may be because people don’t realize that phenibut can have interactions with certain substances. There is a tendency to think if something isn’t a controlled substance or illegal drug, then it’s safe. That isn’t always the case. Another reason people may use phenibut with substances like alcohol or even opioids because phenibut is a potentiate of central nervous system depressants. As a potentiate, phenibut can increase the effects of alcohol. As an example, someone with social anxiety might use phenibut and then go out for drinks.
When someone mixes alcohol and phenibut, the side effects can be mild. Side effects can include disinhibition and sociability, or extreme drowsiness and sedation. Some people who mix alcohol and phenibut may experience nausea and vomiting as well. Phenibut can cause its own hangover symptoms, so if someone mixes alcohol and phenibut, they may feel very sick the next day. These are just the mild side effects, however. More severe risks are possible when mixing alcohol and phenibut.
Phenibut on its own is unlikely to lead to a fatal overdose. When phenibut is mixed with alcohol, toxicity and overdose can occur. Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system. Phenibut is as well. When someone mixes alcohol and phenibut, the CNS depression may be so significant that a person suffers from respiratory depression. With alcohol and phenibut used together, there is a chance of sedation to the point that someone loses consciousness. That can cause other risks, such as choking on vomit while unconscious. People who mix alcohol and phenibut are more likely to experience blackouts or short-term memory loss as well.
Along with the physical risks of mixing alcohol and phenibut, there are other things to think about with this dangerous combination. People who use phenibut often do so to self-medicate mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Alcohol can make underlying mental health conditions worse. Also possible with alcohol and phenibut is the development of a dependence to both. If someone is dependent on both phenibut and alcohol, it can make withdrawal symptoms more severe and long-lasting. It can also increase the chance a person needs a medical detox, to be safe during this time.
To learn more about addiction treatment, including medical detox, reach out to The Recovery Village today.
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