Phenibut is marketed as a supplement in the U.S. and sold online. It’s often described as a “nootropic,” which is a chemical and herbal-based supplement that some claim has cognitive benefits. Phenibut has been used as a pharmaceutical drug in places like Russia since the 1960s. When it’s a prescription drug, phenibut is given to treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD. Other prescription phenibut uses include for alcohol withdrawal, and various stress and anxiety-related conditions. Phenibut is a GABA analog. It acts similarly to the inhibitory and calming neurotransmitter GABA. Unlike a GABA supplement, phenibut also has unique structural properties that allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Table of Contents
Health Risks & Common Withdrawal Symptoms
While some people do feel phenibut has therapeutic benefits for them, there are risks. One of the risks of ordering phenibut online is that it’s an unregulated substance. There’s no way to determine the safety or authenticity, and there are no standard dosage guidelines. Some people may also have negative side effects such as nausea and vomiting. One of the most significant risks of phenibut is the formation of dependence. People rapidly develop a tolerance for phenibut, as well as dependence. For some people, this can occur after using phenibut only one or two times. Quicky, a person requires higher doses to continue getting the effects of phenibut. If someone is dependent and they stop using phenibut suddenly, they may also go through withdrawal.
Phenibut withdrawal symptoms can range from barely detectable to severe. Some of the most common phenibut withdrawal symptoms include rebound symptoms. Rebound symptoms are a more severe reoccurrence of the symptoms someone originally used phenibut to treat. These symptoms can include anxiety and insomnia, as well as rapid heartbeat and other changes in sleep patterns. Phenibut addiction withdrawal can be difficult to manage for some people.
Other Phenibut Withdrawal Symptoms
While the phenibut withdrawal symptoms listed above are some of the most common, others are possible as well. All of the phenibut withdrawal symptoms occur because of the effects this substance has on GABA, as well as other neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine. When the brain is dependent on the effects of phenibut, and that’s suddenly taken away, the brain struggles to readjust. That readjustment is what creates withdrawal symptoms. Phenibut withdrawal symptoms may also include:
- Extreme agitation or feelings of excess physical energy or jitteriness
- Reduced appetite resulting from changes in stress hormones
- Brain fog and other cognitive deficits
- Hallucinations are a rare but possible side effect of phenibut withdrawal
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tension
Phenibut Withdrawal Timeline
The exact length of a phenibut withdrawal timeline can vary depending on some individual factors. For example, how long someone used phenibut, their dosage, whether or not they are gradually tapering off phenibut, and whether someone is taking other drugs or supplements can all play a role. While the more acute, physical symptoms of phenibut may disappear after a week or two, it’s possible that some symptoms can be longer-lasting. For example, post-acute withdrawal syndrome is possible. Also called PAWS, this refers to the long-term occurrence of withdrawal symptoms. Some of the longer-lasting possible phenibut withdrawal symptoms can include psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression. In high-dose phenibut takers, withdrawal has lasted for as long as 24 weeks, and the phenibut withdrawal symptoms and timeline are very similar to what’s seen with drugs like benzodiazepines.
Accessing Help for Withdrawal & Detox
For people who are dependent on phenibut or who fear they could experience withdrawal, the best option is to gradually taper down from the drug. The standard recommendation is tapering down the dosage of phenibut by around ten percent every two to four weeks. Tapering down can help prevent the more severe withdrawal symptoms or help a person avoid withdrawal altogether. Some people also look to supplements to help them as they withdraw from phenibut. For example, some supplements that may be helpful can include magnesium, chamomile, and L-theanine, as well as melatonin. With this in mind, sometimes the best option is to speak to a medical professional.
In some circumstances, a professional phenibut detox may be advisable. First, if someone has underlying mental health issues, medical detox can be necessary. Many people who are dependent on phenibut do have underlying mental health concerns, and that’s why they started using it in the first place. It’s so important to receive appropriate mental health care, including medications if necessary. If someone has polysubstance misuse issues and is simultaneously using phenibut with other prescription or illicit drugs, medical detox may be required as well.
To learn more about medical detox and what happens during addiction treatment, reach out to The Recovery Village today.
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.