Note from Editor: The following is a user submitted experience.
Author: Nathan Martin
I am not writing about my experience with Phenibut to dissuade you from taking it. People, including myself, will typically do what they are going to do regardless of advice. However, if you are thinking of purchasing and taking Phenibut, I implore you to take what I’m about to say seriously, and for the love of god, space out your doses. I don’t believe Phenibut is inherently bad or good, but for people with addictive tendencies such as myself, it can cause a lot of damage.
I acquired Phenibut in January of 2020 after learning that it can help reduce anxiety and promote well being. I did read that with prolonged daily use, without spacing out your doses, there is a possibility of withdrawal. I brushed this off because it’s a legal nootropic, and maybe I would feel lethargic for a few days, but how bad could it be? It wouldn’t be legal if the rebound effects were truly that bad. Oh how wrong I was!
The Phenibut came in the mail and I took four of the 250 mg capsules, totaling one gram. I eagerly awaited the effects to kick in, but by hour 4 I still wasn’t “feeling anything”. I knew that the effects were supposed to be subtle, unlike its distant relative, the benzodiazepine. I was craving a noticeable change in my mental and physical equilibrium, and when this didn’t happen, I took more. Despite not having a noticeable change in my mood, I figured that perhaps it was subtly helping my social anxiety, so I kept taking bigger doses day in and day out. I lost count of how much I was taking, as I was dumping powder in my mouth or swallowing handfuls of capsules without counting. I’m sure it was multiple grams a day, and that’s a conservative estimate. This also further cemented my false idea that there wouldn’t be any noticeable withdrawal effect, since there wasn’t any distinct “high” sensation. I had no idea that in a few months I would be afraid for my life.
I did notice some mild negative effects throughout my day, but they were fleeting and therefore didn’t cause me to stop or reduce my intake. I worked at a yoga studio and would take multiple classes a day. I noticed that with certain poses, my bones would tingle and ache. It was a little painful but would ultimately go away. My fingertips would also pulse and turn red, like my blood was working overtime to pump blood to my capilaries. I kept taking it every day and pushed those symptoms to the back of my mind.
Then Covid-19 happened. I was living in North Carolina during this time, and I lost my job. Given the uncertainty of the times, I decided to move back to California to be with my family. My mother flew out to help me move, and that’s when it started. Shortly after she arrived, I started feeling like I was starting the familiar feeling of Benzo withdrawals. I was starting to feel nervous, but still didn’t link it to my Phenibut usage. We booked a hotel close to the airport and were scheduled to leave around 6 AM to catch our flight, so we turned the lights off and went to bed early. What happened next is difficult to describe. I started feeling an intense pressure inside my head, like someone was reaching into my brain and squeezing it. It would come in waves, along with an almost identical feeling to benzodiazepine withdrawals. It was at this time that I made the connection to the Phenibut. I was terrified.
The following day at the airport was a traumatic experience that I will never forget. I did not want to alarm my mom so I kept my mouth shut and tried to act normal. I had to suffer through three flights and hours of layovers while overcome with crippling anxiety, physical pain, and the building hysteria of COVID-19 beginning. I had some Phenibut with me and kept going to the bathroom to take it, but unlike other drugs, my symptoms did not subside with increased dosage. This was unlike anything I have experienced.
I made it a few days in California before I broke down and told my mom. She was supportive, being the amazing person she is, and also a RN at the local hospital. We made multiple doctor and psychiatrist appointments with the hopes of getting me some help. I anticipated that doctors would not know what Phenibut was, given the niche group that it belongs to, so I printed out multiple articles to take with me to the appointments. This did not help. These medical professionals did not know what Phenibut was, nor could they do anything to help, citing that it would be “malpractice” to write a prescription for a compound that they didn’t recognize. I ended up having what I thought was a seizure one morning and had to go to the emergency room. I was shaking uncontrollably, my vision was blurred, and I was having trouble breathing.
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