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Phenibut Long and Short-Term Effects and Risks

As an unregulated substance, there is still a lot that isn’t known about phenibut. While it is sometimes used to treat anxiety, it can be habit-forming, and its long-term effects are largely unknown. 

Medical professionals recommend more traditional methods to control anxiety.

Why People Try Phenibut

Anxiety is a normal emotion we all feel during a crisis. But being in a constant state of agitation may signify a problem that requires treatment. Doctors should conduct several assessments to diagnose an anxiety issue properly.

However, some people may decide to find treatment on their own. If you do not have enough money to pay for required prescriptions, it may be tempting to use something you can buy online to treat generalized anxiety or any feelings of anxiety.

Phenibut is sold as a supplement in the United States, but it was invented in Russia in the 1960s to control anxiety, per a February 2018 report from The Conversation

If something is available online that is possibly cheaper than a prescription and can help you cut costs related to visiting a physician, then why not get it? All supplements carry potential risks, so it’s important to understand what you are putting in your body.

What Is Phenibut?

Phenibut was created to deal with anxiety and enhance mental acumen. It could potentially help with insomnia.

It is sold as a powder or a capsule. It is known by street names like party powder, pbut, and noofen.

Phenibut works by affecting neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) called γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By binding with GABA, phenibut can change how your brain reacts to stimuli that cause overexcitement, and it can influence whether or not you become anxious.

Phenibut thus causes a reaction similar to what GABA can produce on its own. Research shows phenibut can bypass the blood-brain barrier. This system prevents harmful elements from getting into the brain if they are in your blood. 

Because it can cause you to feel euphoria, phenibut will decrease anxiety in patients when used.

What Is Anxiety?

The mental health community considers anxiety to be a mental health affliction that causes a person to feel excess fear, stress, and worry. People with anxiety can expect:

  • Higher than average blood pressure
  • Feelings of tension
  • Excessive feelings of worry

One reason why anxiety afflicts people in the modern world is that humans are wired to become anxious in order to survive. People used to have to run from dangerous animals, and they had to hunt and gather to find food to eat.

Today, people experience anxiety because of work, family troubles, and life events. Regardless, anxiety activates your fight-or-flight response because of adrenaline — a hormone that lets your brain and body know it is facing a life-threatening situation. 

How Anxiety Is Usually Treated

The Mayo Clinic states that doctors diagnose anxiety by:

  • Conducting physical exams to get an idea of what could be causing your anxiety.
  • Asking you detailed questions to gather information about your medical history and health
  • Conducting a psychological review, if needed
  • Ordering urine, blood, or other tests if the cause of your anxiety is a physical issue

Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will check how anxiety is affecting your quality of life. The most common form of treatment is therapy, and some people are prescribed medications to deal with the issue. You might end up using one or both of these methods in combination.

Common medications for anxiety are:

  • Benzodiazepines. These are sedative medications that should be used only for a short time. They are known to be addictive and not a good choice for people who have misused other substances or alcohol in the past. These help you feel calm and reduce anxiety.
  • Antidepressants. Some antidepressants work as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and they are often used in people with anxiety.
  • Buspirone. This medication specifically deals with anxiety and may take a few weeks to start working just right.

Even with these options, some people may still want to check out other alternatives.

Risks of Phenibut

At the moment, phenibut is sold legally in the United States. A 2015 report on VICE mentioned that the sale of phenibut as a supplement and “smart drug” is big business in the U.S. But just because something is legal does not mean it is a viable medical option. 

Phenibut is known to be habit-forming. A February 2013 case report published on BMJ Case Reports shows that people can build dependence on phenibut. 

The case study looked at a patient who used this supplement to treat anxiety and insomnia on their own. Phenibut seemingly worked for a while. However, the patient built a tolerance to the supplement and felt symptoms of withdrawal when usage stopped. 

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Withdrawal From Phenibut

In addition to its potential for misuse, it is not safe to buy something that is not regulated, even when used for valid reasons, such as reducing symptoms of anxiety.

There is no federal oversight of supplements; therefore, it can be difficult to trust what you are getting.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation states that withdrawal can present a variety of symptoms. Some are mild, but others could be more intense. Withdrawal occurs because your body gets used to working with a drug in its system. Withdrawal may feel like the opposite effect is happening.

For phenibut, this may mean:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme excitability

Alternatives to Phenibut

Using phenibut on its own is a risky move, but taking it along with prescription medication could also be a problem. The best thing to do is to discuss your options with your doctor and let them know about any supplements you take or plan to take.

The Mayo Clinic mentions that you can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce the negative impact of anxiety on your day-to-day activities. 

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol, which could make anxiety worse
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit coffee and nicotine

Your doctor can also provide you with more information about treatments that have been proven to alleviate anxiety.

While some people tout the benefits of phenibut, any supplement use can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before you begin taking it.

Sources

(February 2018) Weekly Dose: Phenibut –the Russian anti-anxiety drug linked to Gold Coast teens’ overdoses. The Conversation. Retrieved March 2019 from https://theconversation.com/weekly-dose-phenibut-the-russian-anti-anxiety-drug-linked-to-gold-coast-teens-overdoses-92339

(October 2018) What to know about anxiety. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454.php

(August 2015) Can the Pills That Claim to Make You Clever Also Make You Rich? VICE. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/bnpvkz/the-complicated-business-of-selling-smart-drugs-809

(October 2017) Generalized anxiety disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20361045

(February 2013) Phenibut dependence. BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3604470/

(2012) Withdrawal. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Retrieved March 2019 from https://adf.org.au/alcohol-drug-use/supporting-a-loved-one/withdrawal/

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