Phenibut Addiction Treatment

Nootropics

Summary: What is Phenibut withdrawal and how do you recover from it?

To avoid addiction, abstain for one day for every 500 mg you take. For example, take 1000 mg, wait till the effect hits in 6 hours, then take another 500 mg. Since you took a total of 1500 mg, you need to wait 3 days before doing it again. Do not take more than 2000 mg.

If you become addicted, go for treatment. You can taper off phenibut by reducing your dose by 10 percent each month. Or, you can slowly replace phenibut with baclofen by adding 10 mg of baclofen and dropping 1 gram of phenibut every week until you’re on baclofen alone. Then drop your baclofen by 10 mg per week until you’re off. Seek treatment for the underlying anxiety condition.

Introduction to Phenibut

Phenibut is an anxiolytic compound, central nervous system depressant, with mild dopaminergic effects. It was created in the Soviet Union in the nineteen sixties and is still prescribed in the former Soviet nations. It has structural similarity to the neurotransmitter GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is one of the main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the human brain. It is the main target of alcohol and other depressants. Phenibut has the advantage of producing anxiolysis without drowsiness or fatigue at prescribed doses.

The half-life of phenibut is about 5 hours. Effects come on in 2 to 6 hours and can last 24 hours. Do Not dose more than 2 grams because you think it’s not working. If you break the dose up, for example doing 1 gram, then when the effect hits 6 hours later, do another 500 mg, you may get a better effect. But never dose more than a total of 2 grams. You can get a hangover, extreme drowsiness, and the worst, absolutely incredible nausea. This is why it is mandatory to allow phenibut to clear out of your system for an entire day for each 500 mg dose. So, if you dosed the whole 2 grams, you need 4 days to clear out. A good recreational dose is the aforementioned 1500 mg total in two doses, 1000 mg, then 500 mg several hours later. It will be a light fun time, with a little hangover, and good sleep.

Pharmacology

Phenibut is thought to be an agonist at GABA receptors (similar to GHB and baclofen) and also has a blocking effect at the α2δ subunit containing voltage-dependent calcium channels, a property shared with Lyrica (pregabalin) and Neurontin (gabapentin). Mixing alcohol with phenibut has additive effects and will intensify withdrawal symptoms when the use of either substance decreases or ceases.
Prescribed for:

  • alcohol use disorders
  • alcohol withdrawal treatment
  • anxiety
  • asthenia
  • depressive disorder
  • General dizziness
  • Ménière’s disease (balance disorder caused by inner ear pathology)
  • motion sickness
  • PTSD
  • Stuttering
  • Tic disorders
  • Vestibular (balance) disorders
  • Tiredness
  • Heart palpitations
  • ADHD 500-700 mg/d in children (Zavadenko, Sorokin, and Gorbachevskaya)
  • Headache
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29265084)

Effects of Phenibut

  1. Anxiolysis
  2. Mild stimulation
  3. Sociability
  4. Improved mood
  5. Stress resilience
  6. Mild improvement in libido
  7. Improved heat tolerance

Recreational effects

  • Mild euphoria
  • Nootropic effects
  • Improved cognition, at low doses in combination with an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor
  • Neuroprotection: protects against excitotoxicity in neurons at low doses
  • Sociability
  • Euphoria at higher doses
  • No anxiety
  • Improved confidence in social settings
  • Improved bonding with others
  • Pain relief
  • The general sense of well-being

The usual experience of phenibut from a low dose is basically unnoticeable. You may experience a mild reduction in anxiety with no sedation. A medium dose may increase comfort and sociability and well as reduce anxiety. A high dose can cause anxiolysis, agreeableness, talkativeness, increased libido, and euphoria. Most people describe being highly sociable with friends and family. This pleasant effect will wane with daily use and addiction will become a possibility.

How phenibut is used in medical settings

Medically, phenibut is used at a dose of 250 to 500 mg once to three times daily. That equates to a maximum daily dose of 1500 mg per day. Since phenibut is only prescribed in the Soviet Union, Latvia, Ukraine and perhaps a few other former Soviet countries, we do not have reports on whether doctors tend to advise patients to take the higher dose without breaks. Evidence suggests studies on phenibut have only lasted a few weeks such that long-term use has not been studied scientifically, though it has been available and used long term for decades. Cosmonauts were given phenibut for use in space, though it is not known for what indication. It could be useful to prevent panic in a cosmonaut without causing sedation and with no reduction in the efficiency of thought and performance.

Recreational use

Phenibut is used recreationally most often in a single dose of 500 mg to 2 grams. Another approach is to take one large dose of about 1 gram, then another 500 grams once the effect hits in 2 to 6 hours. When use is new or infrequent, effects may take 6 hours and present with a mood boost, increased comfort, pain relief, and sociability.

Phenibut dosage

Mild – 250 to 500 mg (this dose is taken medically two or three times per day)
Medium – 250 to 750 mg
High – 750 mg to 3 grams (this dose is taken recreationally, infrequently)

Side effects

  • Nausea: This is the worse side effect if you take too much. Often it occurs after a long sleep from overdosing. It can last all day.
  • Headache
  • Hangover: this is also a sign that you took too much. This is unlikely for a dose under 2 grams and not mixed with alcohol or other depressants.
  • Dependence, addiction, withdrawal

Phenibut Withdrawal Signs

Like other GABA agonists, Phenibut use at regular high doses, doses beyond 500 mg can cause significant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. The development of tolerance is similar to that of benzodiazepines and alcohol. As phenibut is taken daily, it may take higher doses to get the same anxiolytic effect, or just to ward off withdrawal symptoms. The user’s dosage may escalate above 500 mg per day and beyond. A case study from 2013 in BMJ Case Reports presents a typical presentation of phenibut addiction. A 35-year-old man had begun using phenibut in combination with kratom to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, and alcohol craving. His dose had escalated to 8 grams per day. This is higher even than ‘recreational’ doses, demonstrating that tolerance had developed. When he tried to reduce the dose, he experienced anger and hostility toward others, increased anxiety, and other unwanted symptoms (Samokhvalov, Paton-Gay and Balchand).

Phenibut withdrawal symptoms can include the following:

Phenibut Withdrawal Symptoms
  1. Anxiety: The anxiety from Phenibut withdrawal can be debilitating and similar to that of alcohol withdrawal.
  2. Irritable excitation: The user may feel hostile, shaky, jumpy, sweaty, unable to sleep or stay still.
  3. Lack of appetite: It may be difficult to eat, there may be nausea present.
  4. Depression
  5. Brain fog
  6. Tiredness
  7. Vertigo
  8. Depersonalized feeling
  9. Hallucinations: This can occur in those who quit very high doses cold turkey.  It may be similar to delirium tremens in alcohol withdrawal.  One man withdrew cold turkey from 20 grams per day of phenibut and experienced psychosis (Högberg, Szabó and Ruusa)
  10. Racing heartbeat and heart palpitations
  11. Insomnia
  12. Nausea
  13. Vomiting
  14. Psychomotor agitation:  shakiness and tremor
  15. Dread

The patient was treated by gradually substituting baclofen for phenibut at a rate of 10 mg of baclofen to every 1 gram of phenibut until the patient was using exclusively baclofen, then he was gradually weaned off baclofen and treated for anxiety and depression with citalopram.

Am I at Risk For Phenibut Addiction?

You may be at risk of developing an addiction to phenibut if you have certain risk factors. The biggest risk factor in the case of phenibut addiction is probably past alcohol addiction. If you’ve been addicted to alcohol in the past, it may be very difficult for you to use phenibut in a controlled way. Some other risk factors include past trauma and addictive disorders in parents. Here is a list with explanations you can use to assess your risk of becoming addicted to phenibut:

Risk Factors for Phenibut Addiction
  1. Past alcohol (depressant) addiction:  If you have a past or current addiction to alcohol, meaning you have more than 2 drinks more days than not, you may be at risk for phenibut addiction.  Most cases of alcohol addiction, of course, involve far more than 2 or 3 drinks every other day.  If you’re drinking every day or have in the past, you can be sure you are at risk of phenibut addiction.  Unfortunately, people who use alcohol to medicate anxiety are exactly the kind of people needing the help that phenibut can provide.  Instead, go to a psychiatrist and try some non-addictive treatments like antidepressants like citalopram and Trintellex, which have a lower incidence of sexual side effects which make people discontinue treatment.
  2. Anxiety Disorders:  Although phenibut is indicated for anxiety disorders, having one can put you at a higher risk of becoming addicted to phenibut.
  3. Chronic stress:  If you are chronically stressed at home or at work, you have a higher likelihood of becoming addicted to phenibut.
  4. Peer group:  If your peer group has a lot of drug users and those who have become addicted, you are more likely to fall into phenibut addiction.
  5. Age of first drug use:  The younger you were when you first used drugs, the more likely you would develop an addiction to phenibut.
  6. How are you taking it?  Are you breaking it up into doses throughout the day as you should, or taking one massive dose?  Are you taking it in pills at recommended dosages, and not more than twice per week or more often?  If you take more, more often, in liquid form to increase the rate of absorption, you are more likely to become addicted to phenibut.
  7. Metabolism and genetic factors:  something about the way your body processes the drug, how high you get, and what side-effects you experience may make you more susceptible to addiction.

Am I Becoming Addicted to Phenibut?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I taking more than I intended for longer than I intended?
  2. Have a tried to cut down and been unable?
  3. Do I waste a lot of time getting it, a lot of money paying for it, a lot of time using it, or having a hangover or other consequences from it?
  4. Do I feel urges to use it?
  5. Is school, home, or work life affected?
  6. Has it caused strain in my relationships?
  7. Has it stopped me from doing important things for work, family, or recreation?
  8. Has my use put me in danger (falling asleep at the wheel, etc.)?
  9. Have I had physical or mental health problems from it and continued to use?
  10. Have I developed tolerance (raised the dose)?
  11. Am I getting withdrawal symptoms when I miss a dose (anxiety, agitation, etc.)?

Here’s how to gauge your degree of substance dependence: If you have 2 to 3 of the symptoms above, you may have a mild substance use disorder, 4 to 5 is moderate, and 6 or more is severe. In any case, help is available and you can come out unscathed. Don’t panic.

Social Media Wisdom: Learning from others’ experience

This is where we scour the internet for the addiction issues others have gotten themselves into and were willing to share.

Erowid experience

This Erowid user took a whopping overdose of 16 grams at once. He experienced nausea and dizziness for several days. Although it is not easy to die from a phenibut overdose, the effects can be severely unpleasant.

Erowid experience

This Erowid user wrote a glowing report of his phenibut use initially, then came back later and admitted that he had lost his ability to moderate his usage and slipped into addiction with very unpleasant consequences.

Erowid experience

This chick on Erowid describes a harrowing experience of becoming addicted and taking as much as 10 grams of phenibut at a time. She finally admitted the addiction to a psychiatrist and was weaned off with baclofen.

Liftmode phenibut faa
Phenibut hcl vs faa reddit

This comment on Reddit appears to have been written by the guys and gals at Liftmode, one of the top supplement/nootropics companies for average biohackers. They explain that most phenibut is phenibut hcl. However, they also sell free amino acid or faa, which is slightly stronger and which some people prefer.

Phenibut Q & A

Q: How much phenibut to get high?
A: 750 mg to 3 grams but hold on buddy. You could take too much and end up in a coma or more likely asleep for a long time and wake up with a hangover. Do not operate heavy machinery, and don’t do this more than twice per week. Take about 1500 mg in one or two divided doses.

Q: What’s the best way to prevent withdrawal?
A: Don’t use more than twice per week.

Q: What happens if I mix it with alcohol?
A: You increase the chances of the hangover, addiction, and severe withdrawal syndromes. If you do it for just one day, you might fall asleep and wake up with a hangover. If you do it many days straight, you will need withdrawal treatment which includes weaning down, and/or replacing phenibut with baclofen and alcohol with benzodiazepines. You can get through it without too much damage if done right, but it may be difficult to find a treatment center that knows how to deal with phenibut. If you replace phenibut with baclofen, it’s gonna make drinking alcohol much harder as it takes much of the pleasure from it and replaces it with wobbling legs and nausea.

Best Place to Buy Phenibut

Liftmode is a favorite supplier.

Phenibut XT by Serious Nutrition Science has 500 mg per capsule, and good instructions and packaging. They tell you how to take in order not to get addicted right on the package and that’s a very good thing. Most phenibut is sold as a powder with ambiguous or no instructions. You have to weigh it yourself and do all the research. So, if you are fairly naive, get 250 mg or 500 mg capsules, so you don’t have to weigh it out yourself.

In general, phenibut is very popular so there are a lot of good suppliers. Search the net, do your research, see what they are saying on social media about brands and make an informed decision.

Strategies to Prevent Tolerance
There are a handful of ways to prevent tolerance from building to a drug.  These are experimental but have shown up in the research.  These are not something to try, but to research.

    1. NDMA antagonists.  These are substances that antagonize then-methyl d-aspartate glutamate receptor.  In doing so, they may also prevent the nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation which is the hallmark of swelling and inflammation during drug withdrawals.  Opioid rebound, for example, is a state of immune system rebound, systemic vasodilation causing lethargy and many other symptoms of sickness behavior.  NMDA antagonists have been shown to block tolerance to opioids.

These are the ones being used by biohackers and how to use them:

    • Low risk: Agmatine.  this is an after product of arginine and functions as a Nitric Oxide Synthase inhibitor, blocking the conversion of arginine to nitric oxide while at the same time providing arginine for use if NO is needed, therefore it’s reversible.  It is mostly used to potentiate kratom but may help block tolerance to phenibut.  Take up to 500 mg per day in divided doses with your phenibut.  Agmatine appears to have few side effects at doses up to 2 grams per day.
    • Prescription only, medium risk: Memantine:  take 5 to 10 mg with phenibut.  Some people experience a dopaminergic crash with memantine as it is also a dopamine agonist so weigh your risk/benefits carefully.  Prescription only.
    • OTC, known risk: Dextromethorphan:  take 2 to 10 mg with phenibut.  Higher doses of dextromethorphan may work like an SSRI and cause anorgasmia and prolactin increase.  It is OTC in cough medicine (Robitussin gels).
  1. Nitric Oxide Synthase inhibitors: these are bi-products of NO metabolism, many have been developed clinically as inhibitors of drug tolerance (Víteček, Lojek, and Valacchi).Agmatine is the only one available commercially.  Citrulline is also one but of very low potency compared to agmatine.  Take either up to 500 mg of agmatine with phenibut, or up to 3 to 6 grams per day of citrulline with phenibut, but not both at the same time.  Both of these are low-risk amino acids widely available.
  2. HDAC inhibitorsLow risk: Sodium butyrate:  This is an HDAC inhibitor usually made by good bacteria in the gut.  HDAC inhibitors can roll back gene changes that come with aging, including the development of tolerance to drugs.  You can buy sodium butyrate online.  It’s a low risk, a good trick used by biohackers.  It also helps with Irritable Bowel SyndromePrescription only, medium risk: Depakote.  Depakote is sodium valproate.  It is related to sodium butyrate and is a prescription medication derived from valerian root, used to treat bipolar disorder.  You would take this for bipolar disorder as a doctor recommends.  It does not need to be dosed with your phenibut dosage.  It may help prevent tolerance to phenibut to those who have bipolar disorder.  Use of sodium valproate is limited by toxicity to the liver.

Figure 1.https://addictionresource.com/drugs/phenibut/withdrawal/

The best way to prevent withdrawal

Here’s how to prevent withdrawal from being an issue, to begin with:

  1. If you take phenibut daily, it should be in doses below 500 mg.
  2. If you take 500 mg, you need one day of rest. For every 500 mg added, add another day of abstinence. So, if you take 1500 mg in one day, you need to abstain for 3 days.
    Too late for that? Don’t worry, we got you.

How To Detox from Phenibut

To be sure, if you have a very bad phenibut problem, you probably need to go to a doctor, especially if it’s combined with alcohol. But, we are going to show you right here what a knowledgeable doctor is going to do. This is based on the treatment protocol for the case mentioned earlier. A 35-year-old man came to doctors for treatment for 10 months of phenibut use, reaching 8 grams per day. Guy got out of this relatively unscathed, so if your phenibut problem isn’t this bad, don’t worry.

Here’s what you, or rather your doctor will need:

Baclofen

The doctors in the case report selected baclofen because it is similar in structure to phenibut and also it’s not easy to abuse because the effects are not very pleasant. It also does not go well with alcohol and is sometimes used for alcohol withdrawal. Doctors rejected using gabapentin or benzodiazepines as the patient had abused benzos and alcohol in the past. Gabapentin is still a candidate; however, it goes well with alcohol so might not be good for those who might be tempted to drink away the withdrawal symptoms. For those who do not drink or abuse benzos, a benzodiazepine such as clonazepam or another long acting benzo might be used instead. Stopping baclofen cold turkey can be dangerous. Here’s how these nerdy doctors did it (what geeks right? they wrote a case report about it)

They took 24 weeks, gradually substituting phenibut with baclofen.
Steps:

  1. Get hold of some baclofen. Your doctor will get you a prescription. In countries where it might not be available, it can be ordered from sites like AllDayChemist.
  2. Substitute 10 mg of baclofen for every gram of phenibut. Each week drop a gram of phenibut and replace it with 10 mg of baclofen. If you need to go slower, drop 500 mg of phenibut, add 5 mg of baclofen.
  3. Once you are on baclofen alone, start tapering off by dropping 10 mg per week. The positive is that you won’t be tempted to abuse baclofen generally because it’s not a fun drug, though it will relieve anxiety.

The drawback of using baclofen is that it has nasty effects if you stop cold turkey just like phenibut. A positive is that it’s 100 times stronger so you need lower doses. Some doctors may instead use a phenibut taper, where you reduce your phenibut dose ten percent every month or two weeks. This may be easier but could take longer. If you are experiencing health problems from phenibut, you may need to detox faster.

Conclusion / Risk Analysis

As a supplement, anything over 400 mg of phenibut is high risk, due to the risk of both hangover and addiction. Overdose appears to be rare, but it’s possible since the effect sometimes doesn’t hit until 6, even 10 hours later. By then, you may have taken a lot more trying to get it to work, don’t do that. The effect is very subtle. It’s just a lack of anxiety, a mood boost, sometimes a little libido boost, and talkativeness and social agreeableness. Dose less than 2 grams not more than twice per week, and you will be fine. If you get stuck in addiction, don’t worry, go to the doctor and let him know the treatment protocol listed above. Good luck and thanks for reading. Leave your comments below.

Bibliography

Högberg, Lovisa, István Szabó and Jaan Ruusa. “Psychotic symptoms during phenibut (beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid) withdrawal.” Journal of Substance Use 18.4 (2013): 335-338. 14 5 2019. https://tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14659891.2012.668261.
Samokhvalov, Andriy V., et al. “Case Report: Phenibut dependence.” Case Reports 2013 (2013). 14 5 2019. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3604470.
Víteček, Jan, et al. “Arginine-Based Inhibitors of Nitric Oxide Synthase: Therapeutic Potential and Challenges.” Mediators of Inflammation 2012 (2012): 318087-318087. 16 5 2019. https://hindawi.com/journals/mi/2012/318087.
Zavadenko, N. N., et al. “EEG response to phenibut therapy in hyperactive children.” Psychiatry Research-neuroimaging 68.2 (1997): 184. 14 5 2019. https://api.elsevier.com/content/article/pii:s0925492797816046?httpaccept=text/xml.

General Medical Disclaimer

NCSM is not dispensing medical advice. If you have a problem with addiction, contact your doctor or an addiction treatment center.

FDA Disclaimer

Phenibut is not regulated as a drug by the United States of America FDA. In the USA phenibut is not a prescription drug meant to treat, diagnose, or prevent disease.

Last updated on June 19th, 2019 at 09:35 am
June 19th, 2019
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