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Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant that can be purchased legally and is currently unregulated in the United States. Phenibut is marketed and sold as a dietary supplement and is often referred to as a sleep aid and a supplement that can help with anxiety and stress. The FDA, which has issued warning letters in regards to Phenibut, has said that Phenibut does not meet the definition of a dietary supplement. This labeling and marketing has been called misleading and is misbranded. Phenibut is regulated and used medically in other countries outside of the United States to treat anxiety and insomnia. Some countries classify Phenibut as a controlled substance.
How Phenibut Works
Phenibut is thought to cause an agonist effect to the neurotransmitter GABA b. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. There are two types of GABA receptors, GABA a & GABA b. Phenibut at lower doses affects the GABA b receptor. Phenibut ingested at higher doses is thought to affect the GABA a receptor. The GABA a receptor is responsible for the effects produced by drugs classified as benzodiazepines such as Xanax. There are three types of receptors in the brain, Agonist, Antagonist, and Partial agonist. Pheinbut is considered a GABA receptor agonist, which means it causes the receptor to function similarly as if it were a naturally occurring neurotransmitter. In other words, it fully activates the receptors once the drug binds to it. An antagonist is the opposite, in which it would prevent the receptor from doing what it would normally do in the presence of its neurotransmitter.
Is GABA and Phenibut Safe to Take
GABA supplements in and of themselves taken responsibly are thought to be safe. Many people take GABA supplements as a natural way to relax and lower their anxiety levels. There are also foods that affect GABA as do some vitamin supplements such as Magnesium. The drug Phenibut taken at low doses can cause calming effects and reduce anxiety similar to a GABA supplement. The drug Phenibut has very similar effects to the drug Baclofen, which is used medically for muscle spasms and even hiccups. Side effects are mild and can be similar to those of benzodiazepines and alcohol. When drugs like Phenibut or Baclofen are taken as prescribed or suggested the dose affects only the GABA b receptor therefore it reduces the potential for addiction, abuse, and withdrawal symptoms. Drugs such as Xanax and alcohol affect the GABA a receptor. When Phenibut is taken at higher doses it is thought to affect the GABA a receptor too, therefore creating a high abuse and addiction potential as well as stronger withdrawal symptoms similar to what you would find with alcohol and benzodiazepine addiction and abuse.
When a drug like Phenibut is taken at low doses on a daily basis it may not have addictive qualities beyond a psychological dependence, although physical dependence can’t be ruled out. The biggest difference between Baclofen and Phenibut from an addiction potential is Baclofen affects the GHB receptor where Phenibut does not, therefore limiting its potential for dependency, especially at lower doses. However, when Phenibut is taken at higher doses its effects on the GABA a receptors increase its abuse, dependency, and withdrawal potential.
At high doses, a Phenibut overdose can occur and many of the overdose symptoms appear similar to those of benzodiazepines. As of now, there are no drugs that can be administered to reverse the effects of a Phenibut overdose. Overdose symptoms can include a few breaths per minute, sedation, vomiting, and seizures. As with most drugs the withdrawal from the drug produces the opposite effects of the drug itself. Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant, therefore the withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia, and agitation. Other withdrawal symptoms include psychosis, mania, restlessness tremors, and nausea. Like with most drugs, the more you take Phenibut, the greater the frequency becomes, the higher the tolerance you build, the more abuse potential you have, and the greater the risk of overdose and the greater the withdrawal symptoms. The drug Baclofen has been used to help with Phenibut withdrawal.
Detox and Rehabilitation for Phenibut Use
Most drugs that have the potential for abuse may require supervision and stabilization in a medical setting, followed by a safe, controlled rehabilitation environment to reduce or eliminate continued use and relapse potential. As with most drugs of abuse that can cause one to be addicted, the concern is as much about the need for self-medication and to not feel one’s emotions as it is the physical dependency. Regardless of the drug or alcohol of choice, addiction is as much concerned with the behaviors associated with the use and abuse while obtaining and consuming the drug. If one could ingest substances with no effect on them or others, the ingestion of substances in and of itself would not be as worrisome. When families or people suffering from addiction themselves seek help it is almost always because of the situations they find themselves in. This is the case far more often than the worry of just abusing the substance or being dependent on them. When one calls for help the drug of choice is mentioned and not much more is said other than the frequency and method in which it is ingested. Most of the conversation looks at what has happened to the person and why. Most of the focus in rehabilitation is on correcting why it happened in the first place and acquiring new coping skills and outlining a treatment plan. If someone is abusing or is dependent on Phenibut in which medical detox is required, it may be equally necessary to follow through with a rehabilitation program involving addressing the underlying traumas and behaviors that caused it. Many people who are abusing Phenibut may be doing so as an alternative to a benzodiazepine addiction. The availability of Phenibut may appear a safer alternative because it is easier to obtain and there is a much lower risk of legal consequences that could come from purchasing or obtaining benzodiazepines illegally. It is not uncommon for those who abuse alcohol or opioids to also use drugs such as benzodiazepines. This combination of drugs can produce a powerful intoxication. The abuse of Phenibut can and should cause those close to the abuser to be concerned.
There is a big difference between someone who purchases Phenibut to consume it responsibly and to benefit from the legitimate effects versus one who purchases it to abuse it. Most who do abuse it are seeking a powerful high similar to the effects that would be produced by large quantities of benzodiazepines in order to escape. Once the abusive behavior leads to other dimensions of your life being affected such as health, job, family, and possible legal problems, it may be time to seek professional help.