Phenibut is a supplement that many people use for various reasons. Anxiety, poor sleep, fatigue, stress, and problems with focusing are some of such issues. But what is phenibut? Does this substance help with these conditions?
Even though research on the touted uses remains questionable, its consumption continues to increase. This is, however, not surprising. Reference to this supplement as a “smart pill” makes it very attractive for students and workers alike.
Our fast-paced world encourages people to look for aids to help get through their day. This partly explains the increase in the intake of coffee, energy drinks, and other stimulants. Let us not forget, though that many of these stimulants and supplements have adverse effects!
Let us talk about 11 things you need to know about phenibut.
Phenibut is a designer drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant. It has anxiolytic and sedative properties. What this means is that is can help with anxiety and also with sleep problems.
This substance is similar to a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It was developed in Russia in the 1960s and continues to have medical uses in this country. In several other countries, however, phenibut is a non-prescription and unapproved (but legal) substance.
It was used by astronauts to treat anxiety and difficulty sleeping. It was, however, noted to improve mental clarity and help as a performance-enhancing drug. As a result of this, it is sometimes referred to as a “smart pill” or “brain booster.” Students and executives use phenibut to improve their attention, concentration, and productivity. Another common use is to self-medicate social anxiety.
Its chemical name is beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid HCL. Also, it is referred to as beta-phenyl-GABA. Phenibut can easily be purchased online as a supplement.
Phenibut does not have an approved medical use in the U.S. So, what is phenibut used for?
People describe different responses to this substance. Some individuals may feel relaxed, uninhibited, with a general sense of wellbeing. Some of the reasons people use this substance are:
This supplement is often promoted as a nootropic drug. Hence, they are referred to as “smart drugs,” “brain boosters,” or “cognitive enhancers.” The reason for this is because they may improve attention, concentration, and memory. Again, this has not been proven by research. Also, there is no proof that it helps with treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Due to a lack of evidence, phenibut has not been approved by the FDA. Its safety as a herbal supplement remains questionable.
Phenibut goes by the following street names:
Phenibut is generally available as a crystal powder, tablet, capsule, or liquid. Concerns with phenibut have been ongoing for many years in the U.S. In 2013, New York issued a report with a “Phenibut Warning.” This was following near-fatal overdoses on this substance.
This report talks about Phenibut HCL, a white powder. It is sour tasting and dissolves in water and alcohol.
What is the dose of phenibut? Doses range from about 500 milligrams to 4 grams per day. According to reports, the effects of Phenibut HCL begin in about 2-4 hours.
How long does phenibut last in your system? It lasts between 4-10 hours. In doses of 1-3 grams, it can, however, last 15 – 24 hours. Note though that phenibut dosage varies wildly depending on the user.
In low doses, this drug acts as a depressant. However, in high doses, it can cause an increase in energy and euphoria. In addition to acting on GABA receptors, this supplement also increases dopamine release in the brain. This may contribute to the cycle of compulsive use, and perhaps addiction — another reason to stay away from this supplement.
Most people take this supplement by mouth. However, there are reports of intravenous and rectal administration.
One problem with Phenibut is that you may very quickly develop tolerance to it. What this means is that you will need to increase the amount to maintain the desired effect. Of course, with higher doses comes more side effects. Also, increasing the amount you consume makes it challenging to stop. Attempts to discontinue it leads to withdrawal symptoms, and these can be very uncomfortable.
The addictive potential of phenibut is not straightforward. We do know, however, that this drug has qualities similar to other addictive substances. For example, tolerance can occur. Also, there are reports of people becoming dependent on this supplement.
Scientists believe phenibut is potentially dangerous. There have been many cases of overdoses on this supplement. Even though death from phenibut is rare, let us not forget the many possible side effects that can occur.
So, what are the side effects of this supplement? Many, it seems! Here are the common ones:
This substance is a depressant of the central nervous system. What this means is that it can cause drowsiness. Hence, the need to avoid driving or operating machinery while under the influence of this drug.
In addition to the side effects of phenibut on the user, there is also the issue of secondhand effects. This is similar to the impact of secondhand drinking. Indeed, yet another reason to abstain from this drug.
During the first 24 hours after the last dose, symptoms are usually minor. Withdrawal symptoms increase and peak from Days 2 to 6. These can be very uncomfortable. As a result, stopping cold turkey without any professional help can be quite a struggle.
Because this supplement acts on GABA receptors, symptoms are similar to alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawals. These can be pretty severe and may include:
Overdosing on phenibut is not as common as it is with drugs like opioids. It does happen, however. In most cases, people overdose because of the delayed onset time. This slow action makes people take more of the drug thinking the initial dose did not work. Luckily, deaths from overdosing are unlikely. Symptoms of an overdose include:
A combination of phenibut with other medications can make overdosing more likely. For example, other central nervous system depressants can have dangerous additive effects. Some of such medications are alcohol, sedatives, and opioids.
There are no specific antidotes for phenibut overdose. Treatment includes
Phenibut has a chemical structure similar to a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This means that it binds to portions of the brain known as GABA receptors.
As a result of this, combining phenibut with certain medications can cause “additive effects.” Such a combination can increase the risk of an overdose. Examples of drugs that may be dangerous to combine with phenibut are:
Phenibut has no clinical use in the U.S. and is not approved by the FDA. It is, however, approved in countries like Russia, Latvia, and Ukraine. In these countries, it is sold under the brand names Anvifen, Fenibut, and Noofen.
In the U.S., it is sold as a supplement and cannot be obtained from a doctor’s office. Online retailers are the source of this substance in the United States. Because it is not a controlled substance in the U.S., some people believe it has no risks. This is, however, not the case!
The FDA issued warning letters to companies marketing misbranded products. These companies were selling dietary supplements containing phenibut. Such products are sometimes sold as sleep aids. Phenibut does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient. This is according to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
It is not advisable to stop using phenibut cold turkey. This is because of how severe the withdrawal symptoms can present. It is always advisable to seek professional help. This can be done outpatient or inpatient, depending on several factors.
The chemical activity of phenibut is similar to baclofen, a muscle relaxant. For this reason, some detox facilities use baclofen to treat the withdrawal symptoms from this substance. Gabapentin is another medication that helps with detox. There are some reports that phenobarbital is also helpful.
It is important to note that stimulants can make withdrawal symptoms worse. As such, it is crucial to avoid them during the detox process. Even common stimulants like caffeine can worsen this process for the individual. Hence the need for proper medical advice.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps with the treatment of this addiction. It changes the cognitions, expectations, and behaviors that promote the use of this drug. Focus on thought processes and stress management skills helps the recovery process.
In addition, treating the underlying cause of substance use goes a long way in addressing this addiction. Some people self-medicate with illicit drugs and supplements. They may do this because of their struggles with mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are just a few of the issues that may need proper treatment.
Phenibut is a designer drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant. It is similar to a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It was developed in Russia in the 1960s. This substance is not approved for medical use in the U.S. but is available online as a nutritional supplement.
People use phenibut for many different reasons. The common uses are to decrease anxiety and improve memory. For this reason, it is sometimes called “brain booster” or “smart drug.” However, there is a lack of evidence that this substance is effective for these uses.
Phenibut is available as powder, tablets, capsules, and liquid. Its effects take about 2-4 hours to begin. As a result of this delayed onset, overdoses are common. This is because the user feels the initial dose is not working and takes some more.
Death from phenibut overdoses is rare, but there are many possible side effects. This drug is also known to cause tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms.
Combining this supplement with some medications can be dangerous due to the additive effects. Some of such drugs are sedatives, opioids, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and alcohol.
If you are struggling to get off this supplement, treatment can be done inpatient or outpatient. Some helpful medications for detox are baclofen, gabapentin, and phenobarbital. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also beneficial for treatment. In addition, it is essential to treat the underlying cause if self-medication is a concern.
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