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Do you have a Phenibut Addiction? The Nature of Dependence

In this article, we discuss the nature of Phenibut dependence and Phenibut addiction. Although Phenibut is sold as a dietary supplement, it is a powerful substance and needs to be taken in an informed and responsible way, with due respect for its potentially strong effects. Unfortunately, many companies do not provide adequate information for their customers to use Phenibut properly.

It’s important to be aware of the risk of Phenibut tolerance, especially if you find yourself consuming higher than recommended serving sizes of Phenibut or taking it more frequently than instructed. It is also critical to have an understanding of how physical dependency and addiction works to assess the risks of consuming Phenibut. There is an important difference between physical dependence and addiction – the former being the a physiological side effect of substance abuse and the latter being an underlying psychological disorder which can manifest itself in the form of substance abuse but also in the form of other harmful addictive behaviors.

Although Phenibut can be a uniquely valuable supplement when used as intended, it is also among the more powerful supplements and has the potential for misuse when not used as intended. Phenibut is not suitable for individuals who have experienced physical dependency on a substance, and must not be consumed above the recommended serving instructions. If you find yourself consuming Phenibut outside of the recommended serving guidance you should contact your doctor and cease taking Phenibut - in consultation with your doctor.

Luckily, there are also some great Phenibut alternatives available, including a number of natural and plant-derived alternatives which can be taken safely on a daily basis.

phenibut addiction and dependence concept If you feel that you're overusing Phenibut, it might be time to think about alternatives

What is Phenibut?

Phenibut (β-Phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid) is a man-made gamma amino acid derivate that, in the United States and some other countries, can be bought online as a dietary supplement. It is used to reduce feelings of stress and to promote relaxation and healthy sleep. The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists Phenibut under the following MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) categories:

Liftmode Phenibut for calming Phenibut HCl, 99+% Purity from Liftmode

 

  1. Anticonvulsants – Compounds used to prevent seizures or reduce their severity
  2. Convulsants – Agents that act in the brain stem to produce tonic or clonic convulsions
  3. Tranquilizing Agents – Substances that have a calming effect on mood/behavior
  4. GABA Agonists – Chemicals that bind to/activate GABA receptors
  5. Hypnotics/Sedatives – Compounds used to promote drowsiness or to reduce anxiety [1]

 

Phenibut was developed in Russia and was used in various medical practices, starting in the 1960s. Phenibut has stress-reducing/tranquilizing effects and is said to also have cognition-enhancing effects. Phenibut activates dopamine receptors and down-regulates phenylethylamine (PEA) effects. It is also an activator of GABA-B receptors, and was more recently additionally found to be an efficacious α2δ subunit-containing voltage-gated calcium channel blocker. Phenibut shares some activities with Baclofen, and is often compared against benzodiazepines in clinical studies. [2]

For more information about Phenibut, read through our blog post of the Top 20 Questions that people ask about this substance. It includes information about the chemical, its effects, and how to take it.

Using Phenibut Properly: Proper Dosage and Cycling

 

Phenibut Serving Guidance: Do not exceed! 

In order to avoid negative health effects, Phenibut must be used responsibly. There are specific serving guidance that people should not exceed. Phenibut is not a scheduled substance in the US and it does not have medically approved dosage ranges. The recommended serving guidance for LiftMode Phenibut effects (per day) for an average adult are[3]

 

Serving Size Effect Level Dosage in grams
One Serving Mild 0.3 (capsule) – 0.5 (scoop)
Two Servings Moderate 0.6 – 1.0
Three Servings Substantial 0.9 – 1.5
Four Servings Strong 1.2 – 2.0

These daily doses are typically split into two to three smaller doses. We do not recommend exceeding 2 grams in a day. For first time users, always start with the lowest serving size to assess how your body responds to the substance.

Phenibut FAA vs Phenibut HCl Phenibut was once used by Russian astronauts

Exceeding the recommended serving guidance can cause side-effects and tolerance build-up, and substantially exceeding the recommended serving guidance for extended periods of time may become a manifestation of an addiction disorder and may lead to physical dependence on Phenibut, calling for tapering to reverse.

It is important to note that there is a difference in strength between Phenibut HCl and Phenibut FAA. We recommend using lower doses when taking Phenibut FAA. For more information, read our article about Phenibut HCl vs Phenibut FAA.

 

Phenibut Cycling: No more than twice per week! 

A key aspect of using Phenibut properly is to take it in ‘cycles’ – known as Phenibut cycling. Regular use of Phenibut causes your body to acclimatize to its effects, which we refer to as a Phenibut tolerance. The result is that you end up needing to take larger doses to feel the same effects that you used to feel from lower doses. [4]

To prevent building a Phenibut tolerance, we urge Phenibut users not to use the substance more than twice a week. Taking Phenibut more than twice per week may lead to Phenibut tolerance, which in turn is the first step towards developing Phenibut dependence. If you continue to take Phenibut in larger amounts or more frequently than the serving guidance over a substantial period of time, your body could develop dependence. The development of physical dependence becomes a partial contributor to some peoples' struggle with Phenibut addiction.

woman meditating on the beach, using Phenibut People tend to use Phenibut for stress reduction and relaxation, as well as to boost cognitive performance

Phenibut Interactions

It is important to be aware of potential Phenibut interactions. At this point, there is insufficient research about specific Phenibut interactions. If you are taking any medication, always speak to your doctor before using Phenibut. It is especially important not to use Phenibut if you are taking:

medication: mixed pills, tablets and capsules It's not a good idea to combine Phenibut with medication
  • Alcohol
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Dissociatives
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Stimulants [5]

 

Using Phenibut with tranquilizers, depressants, dissociatives, or sleeping pills can increase the sedating effects of both substances. Do not combine these substances.

Phenibut Side Effects  

Phenibut is a manmade gamma amino acid derivative , and as such is a substance capable of causing strong effects on your central nervous system (CNS), especially if taken above the recommended serving guidance. It affects both your mood and your physical body. It is important that you understand the potential side effects of Phenibut before taking it.

Phenibut side effects have not been extensively studied or published in academic journals. As a result, some of the best sources of information about Phenibut side effects are from subjective first-hand experiences on the internet. Examples include Reddit and Erowid.org.

Phenibut side effects headaches Exceeding the Phenibut dosage guidelines can cause side-effects like headaches

From these sources, we find that some Phenibut side effects may include:

  • Headaches / Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Feeling sad/not yourself
  • Drowsiness
  • Clumsiness / Loss of motor-coordination
  • ‘Hangover’ the next day [6]

 

Importantly, these side effects are more pronounced at higher doses. Most people who take Phenibut within the recommended dosage range do not complain about experiencing Phenibut side effects.

Phenibut has a long onset time of around 2-4 hours for most people. Do not take more Phenibut if you can’t feel the effects within this time. As with all supplements, there are some people who will not respond to Phenibut at all due to a number of physiological reasons. If you don’t feel any effects, do not take extra Phenibut.

Phenibut supplement safety aspects Liftmode's Phenibut FAA: 99.5%+ purity

It is possible to overdose on Phenibut. Exceeding the recommended dosage can be dangerous for your health.  [7] For safety reasons, please ensure that you do not exceed the recommended dosage and always use Phenibut in cycles.

There is not enough research to show whether or not Phenibut is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Do not use Phenibut if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. [8] For more information, read through our article on Phenibut Safety.

Phenibut Dependence: Taper off your dosage to avoid withdrawals!

Using excessive amounts of Phenibut can cause your body to build a tolerance to its effects. This means that you would need to take increasingly larger amounts of Phenibut to feel the same effects as before. Taking large amounts of Phenibut for prolonged periods of time could result in your body developing a physical dependence on the chemical.

Physical dependence means that the chemicals in your body would no longer be at equilibrium. Your body would require Phenibut to stimulate GABA and dopamine receptors. Note that physical dependence can occur when using any GABA-agonist in excess (including alcohol and benzodiazepines). [9]

irritated young businesswoman with Phenibut withdrawal Phenibut dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability

Case studies of Phenibut dependence, as well as anecdotal reports, show that people with Phenibut dependence often experience some of these symptoms when they stop using it:

  • Anger/hostility
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Physical discomfort
  • Anxiety/jitteriness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Night-sweats [10]

 

There is a wide-range of information available on internet forums and chat-groups about working through a Phenibut dependence. If you believe that you may be dealing with Phenibut dependence, it is not advisable to stop using Phenibut cold-turkey.

Most people with a Phenibut dependence are able to reduce their dosage in increments, over a period of a few weeks. However, it is sometimes necessary to seek medical advice. Doctors will often prescribe Baclofen as a substitute for Phenibut for a period of time. [11]

Phenibut Addiction: Act on your feelings and get help!

There is an important difference between Phenibut addiction and Phenibut dependence.

giving comfort for Phenibut addiction Support and comfort are vital in dealing with any addiction

It is possible to become addicted to a very wide variety of substances and behaviors. In the past, government and medical institutions put the blame for addiction on the substance itself. Today, new research shows that substance and behavioral addiction is often the result of underlying psychological issues. [12]

It’s clear that some substances have an extremely high habit-forming potential. [13] However, it is also clear that not everybody who drinks alcohol becomes an alcoholic. Nor does everybody who tries a cigarette become a smoker.

 

Addiction stems from underlying psychological issues and possibly also from environmental, social, and genetic factors. [14] Addictive substances provide an escape from the normal state of consciousness. The disease of addiction causes the victim to compulsively seek this escape.

This is why we prefer to talk about Phenibut dependence rather than Phenibut addiction. If you are addicted to Phenibut, simply quitting Phenibut will not cure your addiction. It is very likely that you will either relapse or simply seek a new addiction elsewhere.

 

If you believe that you have (or a someone you know has) a Phenibut addiction, it is very important that you seek help – both from a psychologist/addiction treatment center, as well as from your friends and family.

 

 

How do I know whether I have a Phenibut dependence or a Phenibut addiction?

While physical dependence results from the overuse of a substance, addiction is a disease that often requires long-term management and treatment facilities. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference.

A sure-fire way to tell whether or not you are addicted to something is to challenge yourself to stop. You may have developed a physical dependence through overuse, making the challenge more difficult (it’s not called a challenge for nothing!).

girl studying for examinations, phenibut review Phenibut is used for its calming effects during stressful situations

If you can bring yourself to stop using Phenibut (either by simply not taking it for a while or by reducing the dosage in increments) and do not experience subsequent cravings, or seek new ‘escapes’, then you do not have an addiction problem.

 

 

 

The table below outlines the some of the differences between Phenibut dependence and Phenibut addiction:

Phenibut Dependence Phenibut Addiction
As your Phenibut tolerance increases, the equilibrium of chemicals in your brain changes. Phenibut addiction often goes hand-in-hand with overuse and the resulting physical dependence.

Addiction to any substance is unnatural and is classified as a disease.

Your body now requires Phenibut to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You experience strong cravings and urges, compulsive seeking of Phenibut, and an inability to control your use of the substance.

These cravings often lead to negative and destructive behavior patterns.

Dependence can be addressed through incremental reductions in dosage, or through medical interventions (like using Baclofen). Treatment for addiction requires a combination of medical interventions for physical dependence and behavioral therapy.

People who are addicted to substances often need to spend a prolonged period of time in a rehabilitation facility. [15]

Phenibut Alternatives: Natural Supplements for Calm and Relaxation

herbal medicine in capsules Naturally-derived supplements can also provide potent benefits

Most people who take Phenibut simply use it to promote a calm, relaxed mood and to help with regulating stress. This is its primary function and the reason why it is so popular. When using Phenibut at the recommended dosage and cycling it correctly, there is no need to worry about developing a dependence on it.

However, there are people who have developed Phenibut dependence, and some have even struggled with Phenibut addiction. If you feel that you have been overusing Phenibut and would prefer to use a supplement with less of a habit-forming potential, why not try one of these great alternatives to Phenibut?

 

  1. Magnolia Bark Extract
Liftmode Magnolia Bark Extract 20 grams

Magnolia Bark Extract is a powerful herbal supplement that contains two very potent phytochemicals – Magnolol and Honokiol – which are known to produce calming and stress-reducing effects. [16] Magnolia Bark has been used for over a thousand years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has a very good track record, both with regards to its potency and its safety. [17]

Find out more: Top 5 Reasons to Use Magnolia Bark

 

  1. Oleamide
Oleamide 50 grams

Oleamide is a chemical that is produced in your brain in response to a lack of sleep. Just a few hours sleep deprivation sky-rockets the levels of Oleamide that your body produces. Oleamide is effective when taken as a supplement and helps to trigger the onset of sleep. It increases the activity of GABA receptors, inducing relaxation and reducing stress. [18]

Find out more: Top 6 Verified Benefits of Oleamide

 

  1. 5-HTP

 pure Liftmode 5-HTP5-HTP is the chemical precursor to serotonin. Using 5-HTP supplements has been shown to significantly increase serotonin levels in your brain. [19] Serotonin is known for its importance in maintaining a healthy mood. When your body detects a change in the dark-light cycle, it converts serotonin into melatonin, which helps to bring about healthy sleep. [20]

Find out more: Top 3 Benefits of 5-HTP

Note that these are not the only effective Phenibut alternatives. We'll also mention other supplements (which can be taken individually or in a stack) - some of which we do not yet carry, but may in the future - including:

  • L-Theanine 
  • L-Tryptophan
  • Baicalin
  • Kava
  • Mulungu
  • L-Tetrahydropalmatine
  • Kanna
  • Ashwaghanda
  • Gotu Kola
  • Blue Lotus
  • Valerian
  • St. John's Wort
  • Lavender Oil
  • Hops
  • Magnesium
  • Glycine
  • Agmatine 

 

Conclusion

In summary, Phenibut dependence is more of a concern for the general Phenibut user than full-blown Phenibut addiction. Dependence occurs after using Phenibut incorrectly or irresponsibly for a prolonged period of time. This is not always the user’s fault. Unfortunately, some companies sell Phenibut without taking necessary steps to inform their customers how they should be using the substance responsibly.

Although Phenibut is classified as a dietary supplement, it is still a powerful substance and must be used responsibly. To avoid Phenibut dependence, always use the substance within the correct dosage range and remember to use it in cycles.

man enjoying Phenibut in sunset Used properly, Phenibut is a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation

If you or someone you know appears to have a Phenibut addiction, it is important to seek medical assistance as well as help and comfort from friends and family. Addiction is a disease and can often be treated with long-term changes in lifestyle and relationship patterns. If you have a Phenibut addiction, simply quitting Phenibut may not mean the end of the disease. [21]

 

If you feel that you are having difficulty in using Phenibut responsibly, we recommend trying one of the great Phenibut alternatives, including Magnolia Bark Extract, Oleamide, or 5-HTP.

References:

[1]4-Amino-3-phenylbutanoic acid”, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Open Chemistry Database, Compound Summary for CID 14113, accessed June 21, 2017

[2] I Lapin, “Phenibut (beta-phenyl-GABA): a tranquilizer and nootropic drug”, CNS Drug Rev. 2001 Winter;7(4):471-81.

[3]Phenibut”, Psychonaut.wiki.org, accessed June 21, 2017

[4] AV Samokhvalov et al., “Phenibut dependence”, BMJ Case Rep. 2013 Feb 6;2013

[5]Drug Interactions”, Point of No Return, pointofnoreturn.com, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[6]Beginner's Guide to Phenibut”, Reddit.com/r/Nootropics, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[7] S Sankary et al., “Phenibut overdose”, Am J Emerg Med. 2017 Mar;35(3):516.e1-516.e2.

[8]Phenibut”, WebMD.com, accessed June 21, 2017

[9] RJ Malcolm, “GABA systems, benzodiazepines, and substance dependence”, J Clin Psychiatry. 2003;64 Suppl 3:36-40.

[10]Addicted to Phenibut”, by DrMantisMD, Reddit.com/r/Nootropics, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[11] AV Samokhvalov et al., “Phenibut dependence”, BMJ Case Rep. 2013; 2013: bcr2012008381

[12]What Is Addiction?”, Psychology Today: Substance Abuse, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[13]These Are The 5 Most Addictive Substances On Earth”, AddictionCenter.com, March 9, 2016, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[14]Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong”, Johann Hari, Ted Talk, TedGlobal London, June 2015, available online at ted.com, accessed June 21, 2017

[15]Physical Dependence and Addiction”, The National Alliance of Advocates

for Buprenorphine Treatment, Naabt.org, available online, accessed June 21, 2017

[20] AB Hickman et al., “Melatonin Biosynthesis: The Structure of Serotonin N-Acetyltransferase at 2.5 Å Resolution Suggests a Catalytic Mechanism”, Molecular Cell, Volume 3, Issue 1, January 1999, Pages 23-32

[21]Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like one”, Michael Botticelli, Ted Talk, Oct 2016, TEDxMidAtlantic, available online on ted.com, accessed June 21, 2017