If you’ve researched phenibut online, chances are that you’ve already read some unpleasant stories about phenibut withdrawal.
Phenibut is popularly used as a cognitive enhancer at low doses (100-250mg). At moderate doses, it relieves stress, anxiety, and increase slow wave sleep. High-dose phenibut is potentially dangerous and is considered recreational use (or misuse, depending on your perspective).
A major disadvantage of this nootropic agent is the tendency for chronic phenibut use to result in vicious cycle of dependence, withdrawal, craving, and finally reinstatement.
It’s therefore imperative to weigh this risk if you’re considering adding phenibut to your regimen nootropic stack. If you have a history of substance use or an addictive personality, it’s probably best to steer clear. But let’s not forget that phenibut can be used responsibly in a way that mitigates dependence while also maximizing the benefits of the drug.
In this article I want to share with you my own experience with phenibut dependence and withdrawal. I’ll also discuss how phenibut withdrawal manifests and some actionable tips to mitigate withdrawal symptoms.
Keep in mind that phenibut is just like any other anxiolytic compound (e.g. benzodiazepines); its misuse can cause serious problems.
Phenibut Withdrawal Risks
Several studies suggest that phenibut is safe and has few negative side effects when used cautiously at low doses (i.e., 100-250mg). However, a common complaint is increased drowsiness, particularly when phenibut is taken in the morning. This side effect is much more pronounced with benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax). Benzodiazepines are like the riskier counterpart to phenibut.
Phenibut also has a high therapeutic index.
The therapeutic index is just a comparison of the amount of therapeutic agent that causes a therapeutic effect to the amount that causes toxicity. An example of a drug with a low therapeutic index is the bipolar treatment lithium carbonate. The therapeutic dose of lithium is just below the toxic dose, which is why patients’ lithium blood levels must be carefully monitored.
There have been reports of nootropics users taking high doses of phenibut without adverse effects. One user reported taking over 20g of phenibut and “felt nothing.” Even so, you should limit your phenibut intake so that you don’t become dependent or experience inter-dose withdrawals.
Some drugs interact with phenibut, particularly anticonvulsants (used to treat epilepsy and suppress seizures). Therefore, if you’re taking MAO inhibitors or some epilepsy medicines such as oxcarbazepine or carbamazepine, it is important that you consult with your doctor.
It’s also best to avoid co-administering any drugs or medications that have a tranquilizing effect with phenibut. For example, it’s unwise to take phenibut with alcohol. That’s because both alcohol and phenibut affect GABA. This shared mechanism can lead to potentially dangerous interactions.
Phenibut can be taken twice a day or as needed by each individual user so long as it does not exceed the recommended 250 mg to 1500 mg daily dose. You should recognize that chronic phenibut use (daily dosing) will probably result in dependence, even at “safe” doses.
Note that health care professionals consider many factors in prescribing the appropriate dosage for this supplement. To prevent the development of tolerance or phenibut withdrawal, you might one strategy is to “test the water” by taking it for a week followed by another week of rest. Another possible plan includes taking phenibut for a couple of days in a week with lots of “off-time” in your program.
Phenibut Withdrawal: When to Ask for Help
Occasional use of phenibut is the best way to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Cycling your phenibut dosages is highly advisable. Always allow your body to adjust, as it strives to achieve homeostasis. But, if you feel that you’re developing withdrawal symptoms, you must seek medical advice from your healthcare provider. Your physician might advise that you taper off your dosages over the course of a month to ensure that you won’t shock your body with abruptly stopping phenibut intake.
Phenibut Withdrawal: Timeline
Everyone desires a clear-cut answer with regards to the precise duration of how long phenibut withdrawal symptoms last.
The problem with providing a particular answer is that this range may not apply to some individuals. Each individual has unique physiology and what may be true to a person may be different to another. Researching phenibut withdrawal online can lead to hypochondriasis, because you might mistakenly think that something more serious has occurred if your withdrawal timeline doesn’t match the reports of other users.
A highly plausible hypothesis regarding phenibut is that some individuals may actually experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) particularly to those who have been chronic and high-dose users. Keep in mind that phenibut acts as a GABA-B agonist.
Literature suggests that withdrawal symptoms from phenibut may last for around two weeks. This two week recovery period is based off of available reports from recreational phenibut users.
Several case studies of high-dose users have documented that full recovery takes up to 24 weeks. In some cases, discontinuation from phenibut can take as long as 6 months, in sensitive individuals. It is therefore crucial to consider that the duration of serious phenibut discontinuation depends on varying factors as well as on one’s individual coping strategies.
Signs and Symptoms of Phenibut Withdrawal
Included below is a list of withdrawal symptoms that you might experience when discontinuing phenibut. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from one person to another. Some phenibut users are less sensitive to drugs might not experience any withdrawal symptoms. The most frequently reported symptoms are increased heart rate, anxiety, and sleep disruptions.
Stress is one of the most frequently reported symptoms of phenibut withdrawal. Most users experience stress after abruptly discontinuing phenibut. This phenibut withdrawal symptom occurs primarily because of alterations in GABAergic transmission. Note that it will take a while for your brain to return to homeostasis (equilibrate).
For the first few days or weeks after stopping phenibut, you might feel agitated, restless, and unable to relax. This sense of “inner restlessness” can be disconcerting. Agitation is also an adverse effect of many antidepressants and can contribute to what’s called a “mixed state” in patients with bipolar disorder.
Decrease in Appetite
After discontinuing phenibut, you might experience a sudden decrease in appetite. Loss of appetite may be indirectly linked to dysfunctional GABAergic and dopaminergic activity.
Phenibut-induced changes in GABAergic transmission may promote the release of stress and anxiety signals in the brain (e.g. cortisol), which can curb hunger. Another plausible theory includes the inhibition of dopamine. Remember that phenibut has the ability to increase metabolism of dopamine whereas abrupt discontinuation of this nootropic supplement may lead to a decrease in dopamine metabolism. This action may result to a decrease in appetite.
A less common symptom of phenibut withdrawal is the black dog, depression. If your mood abruptly plummets after phenibut discontinuation and you feel depressed, it’s probably associated with changes in GABA and dopamine. Depression from phenibut withdrawal is usually low grade. If you have not experienced depression before using phenibut, your mood will improve within a few weeks after your last dose.
Phenibut is used in Russia to treat some vestibular problems such as dizziness, vertigo, and equilibrium problems. Phenibut treats these manifestations by its effects on GABA(B) receptors, and possibly alpha2delta calcium channels. However, these effects are reversed with when phenibut is stopped. If you are taking phenibut for these symptoms, you may feel extremely dizzy for a couple of days but this should improve 2 to 4 weeks after your last phenibut dose.
Stopping a powerful pharmacologic agent like phenibut, particularly one that influences GABA function, can bring on a sense of depersonalization. Depersonalization is detachment from one’s self, where one’s thoughts and feeling seem unreal.
Because of how Phenibut works in the brain, phenibut withdrawal increases stress and exacerbates depersonalization. This symptom tends to subside as anxiety decreases.
Phenibut is used by some for cognitive enhancement and anxiety relief. But many users report decreased attention and focus after stopping phenibut. Anecdotal evidence suggests that high doses of phenibut can lead to temporary cognitive deficits and brain fog. If you notice that your clarity of thoughts is impaired or your usual quick-wit has diminished – it is likely related to phenibut withdrawal.
Former users have reported extreme lethargy or fatigue for the first week of quitting phenibut. Most individuals who have reported fatigue have also noted that their normal energy levels return after several weeks. This withdrawal symptom could be hard to deal with particularly among individuals with active lifestyle or those who need to be at their best for work, school, and athletic performance. To avoid feeling of fatigued, it is important that you keep stress low, rest when necessary, and sleep to allow your body and mind recover. Don’t over do it!
A heart palpitation simply refers to the awareness of one’s own heartbeat, and the sense that it is beating too quickly (tachycardia) or too forcefully (increased heart contractitility). It’s not unusual to notice changes in heart rhythm upon discontinuation of phenibut.
Heartbeat flutters or palpitations during withdrawal are not uncommon. Heart palpitations may be exacerbated by stress and sympathetic pathways which is influenced by phenibut. Relaxing activities often helps relieve this withdrawal syndrome.
In rare instances, some users will experience hallucinations. A case study has shown that a healthy individual to experience auditory hallucinations from intake of high doses of phenibut (for 2 months). This person reported visual hallucinations 3 days after cessation of phenibut intake. He also reported auditory hallucinations on the fifth and sixth day of discontinuing phenibut. Literature suggests that hallucinations during phenibut withdrawal is unlikely unless you have a history of substance abuse, have chronic and excessive intake of phenibut doses or have a preexisting neuropsychiatric problem.
A common symptom associated with phenibut withdrawal includes sleeplessness. Majority of users have verbalized difficulty in falling asleep or maintaining sleep throughout the night after phenibut discontinuation. You may notice feeling physically tired but is unable to sleep or switch off your brain no matter how long you stay in bed. This condition is likely prompted by an imbalance on your GABA neurotransmission. Insomnia may take a while to go away particularly if you do not actively perform some actions to combat sympathetic arousal. One strategy that you may do includes temporary supplementation with sleep-inducing agents such as melatonin – a popular compound known to help in promoting better sleep.
In discontinuing phenibut intake, you have stopped receiving its GABAergic effects. Hence, you might find it difficult to remain calm or composed. You might experience some instances when you feel uneasy, restless and accumulate anguish. If you notice this manifestation, remember that it is a withdrawal symptom that will improve within a few weeks.
Nausea and vomiting
Some users may experience nausea throughout their first week of phenibut withdrawal. This symptom will subside after a week or two of discontinuing intake of phenibut. Nausea may also indicate that you have tapered too fast. Basically, you may consider this symptom as a physiologic backlash whereas your body has anticipated another dose of phenibut. If you feel nauseated most of the time and has experienced vomiting, you might want to consider a slower taper.
The GABA system plays an important role in promoting relaxation of the human musculature. Since phenibut acts on the GABA system, it has been identified to be helpful in muscle relaxation. For this reason, many individuals who have quit taking phenibut experience muscle stress. Psychological anxiety may also trigger muscle tension but should subside after a few weeks. To relieve muscle tension, you might want to consider doing some foam rolling, try getting a massage or participate in progressive relaxation activities.
Don’t be surprised if you feel uneasy and restless during your first week of phenibut withdrawal. Restlessness is probably linked with reduced GABA transmission as well as an increase in your anxiety and physiologic arousal. To decrease restlessness, you might want to channel this extra energy by running, exercising or you might want to do some relaxing activities. This symptom usually goes by itself after a week or two.
Increased Pulse Rate
Tachycardia or increased pulse rate is a common physiologic reaction occurring amongst individuals who have discontinued intake of CNS depressants. It occurs alongside heart palpitations. However, it is important that you consult this symptom with your primary healthcare provider if you have a history of any heart problems. Increased anxiety and high blood pressure may also occur.
Several phenibut users have reported feelings of primal fear. Primal fear is manifested as increased unconscious threat detection and heightened defense responses. Simply put it, you might experience physical adrenaline rush or increased sensitivity to external stimuli. You might then notice yourself scanning your immediate environment for possible threats more often than you always do. So long as you do not dwell on this sensation, this symptom will subside over a few days or weeks.
Experiencing tremors or uncontrollable shaking is one of the most common symptoms of phenibut withdrawal. These tremors are usually sporadic however; some people might find it disconcerting. To avoid excessive bouts of tremors, you might want to consider a slower taper. Note that tremors are prompted by tapering your phenibut dose too fast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms vary from each individual. Should you be concerned of any severe manifestation during your phenibut withdrawal, you must promptly consult a healthcare professional.