Phenibut – Mysterious, Underground, Russian, Anti-Anxiety Drug – Often Abused

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Phenibut: Developed in the 1960’s at the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute in the USSR, phenibut is a central nervous system depressant with sedative and anxiolytic effects. It is classified as a GABA receptor agonist “Gabapentinoid”.

  • U.S and European citizens can purchase phenibut tablets or powders online, where it is advertised as a dietary supplement and nootropic.

However, it is widely prescribed in Russia, Latvia and Ukraine for treating insomnia, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. When taken at higher than normal doses, phenibut can induce auditory and visual hallucinations as well as acute psychosis. Mixing it with alcohol significantly intensifies its effects. It is currently marketed under these and other brand names;

  • Noofen
  • Fenibut
  • Anvifen

Phenibut Physical and Psychological Effects

If it were legal in the U.S., it would probably be designated like an opioid, since tolerance to the drug develops quickly. People under the effects of phenibut should never drive an automobile or operating machinery. Effects of it can include:

  • Sedation/sleepiness
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech

Phenibut as a Nootropic & GABA Neurotransmitter

It is considered a nootropic because it is said to improve motivation, creativity, memory and overall cognitive functioning.

A modified formulation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), phenibut’s anxiolytic and disinhibiting properties may enhance cognition by alleviating anxiety and obsessive thoughts. Additionally, it acts on GABA receptors similar to the way alcohol acts on GABA receptors.

  • Never combine Phenibut with alcohol, it would be dangerous.

Phenibut Contraindications

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children under 16, people with liver problems and or ulcerative lesions affecting their stomach or intestines should not take phenibut. Not much research is available regarding how it interacts with pre-existing conditions but users should view phenibut contraindications as the medical community views opioid contraindications.

Phenibut Overdose

No antidote for an overdose exists. Emergency doctors typically use gastric lavage, activated charcoal and supportive treatments to reduce overdose effects. No deaths have yet been reported from overdosing on phenibut. However, first-time users often overdose on phenibut because it takes an hour or more for users to feel the effects. Consequently, users will take another dose of phenibut because they don’t think the first dose is working. Overdosing on this drug causes extreme;

  • drowsiness
  • dangerously low blood pressure
  • nausea & vomiting
  • kidney & liver damage
  • seizures and delirium

Phenibut Withdrawal

People can experience when they discontinue its use. This may produce withdrawal symptoms, such as;

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • muscle/joint aches
  • vomiting
  • fever

Legal Status

No countries have designated phenibut as a controlled substance.

  • Instead, it is currently deemed a “legal intoxicant”.
  • It is not approved in the U.S. for recreational or medicinal use.

Several years ago, Europe considered making it illegal but decided not to due to its profitability potential as a recreational drug. Australia announced its plans to make it a schedule 9 (prohibited) substance, referencing health concerns associated with its addictive properties.
 
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