I've gone though Phenibut withdrawals three times now. My use of Phenibut has been reckless. I have taken it in high doses, often unmeasured, typically between 2.8G and 5G a day, although on one unfortunate occaission, up to 10G.
The withdrawal syndrome is an unpleasant if not interesting experience: the first time I withdrew was from 7 or 8 days use, between 2 and 3 grams a day administered in a singe dose. There were no immediate effects but symptoms manifested perhaps twenty four hours after my last dose, perhaps closer to thirty-six hours.
The first indication was feeling physically tired and trying to sleep, yet not being able to do so. However unlike the symptoms of opioid withdrawals that I have experienced, I was content to lie in my bed and indeed drifted in and out of semi-delusional mentality, similar to the dream experience but still being aware of my external environment (i.e cars driving by, etc.).
Other symptoms included the 'shakes', shaking unontrollably, but not wildly, when exposed to even mildly cold weather. Anyone looking at me might have thought I was just shivvering.
Also, strange visual symptoms would occur, where my eyes would focus in a strange (and hard to describe) manner, especially upon large fields of similar colour and texture, for example a grass backyard or a white wall. I would look contemplatively at the grass, for example, and then my focus would become slightly blurred, though it felt as though my focus was in fact becoming more sharp - so it didn't look as though my field of vision was clearer, only, in a strange way, 'felt' like it.
I suppose this is correlated with the severe nystagmus I used to experience when taking phenibut. I believe in the United States, one particular means of testing for intoxicated drivers is the 'horizontal eye' nystagmus test, where the officer asks the driver to follow an object and continue to focus on it as he moves it slowly around. Anyway that's probably entirely irrelevant, but I saw it on an episode of COPS once and I thought it was quite strange, but it makes some sense now, with Phenibut and alcohol both acting in some capacity on GABA(B) neurotransmission.
These visual symptoms are most worrying as they could potentially, though I certainly hope do not, indicate non reactive pupils, in turn indicating head trauma or brain lesions. Non reactive pupils are a symptom of severe baclofen underdose/withdrawal.
I went a week or 8 days without any real REM sleep, only that semi-delusional dozing, but as I've seen described on the boards here before, I was much less tired during the day than I ought to have been. I was of course still tired, but not as tired as had I gone three or four days without sleep in a 'normal' capacity.
The second withdrawal syndrome was protracted by several more days. I took an approximate 4 gram dose of Phenibut six days ago, after having used between 4 and 5 grams daily in single doses for a period of two weeks. I took the Phenibut at approximately 4PM, this being a Thursday evening. Then about twelve hours later I consumed 30mg of d-amphetamine in a single dose, and perhaps another 50mg in divided doses over an eight hour period. I fell asleep at about 7 or 8 o'clock on a Friday evening, after having consumed 1mg of clonazepam to assist with my sleep.
I slept soundly that night, but upon waking could quite acutely feel the Phenibut withdrawal symptom. I endured the weekend until Sunday night, when I took a smaller dose of Phenibut, unmeasured but no more than 1 gram. Again, about twelve hours later I consumed 30mg of d-amphetamine, and continued to consume another 30mg over a four or five hour period. Withdrawal symptoms were immediately evident (as opposed to the thirty-six hour delay I experienced in the first instance of the withdrawal syndrome).
I have not experienced any of the negative effects attributed here and elsewhere to combination of phenibut and amphetamine. I consume the amphetamine orally, and I feel that the pleasurable rush is much stronger initially due I suppose to a flood of dopamine. I don't know if the euphoria has been exaggerated by the phenibut, because I'm not aware of the exact nature of phenibut's actions on dopamine neurotransmission. However I also notice that the euphoria subsides much more quickly than usual, and that the pleasurable effects of the amphetamines are much more quickly overtaken by peripheral side effects, than when amphetamine is taken on it's own in similar dosing capacity.
Interestingly enough, some effects of the phenibut withdrawal syndrome I actually find pleasurable. This is not to say that I would induce withdrawals just to pry some euphoria from them. But again as has been mentioned, in some moments there seems to be a subtle dopaminergic pleasure and mental stimulation, similar to the phenibut 'hangover' although not nearly as potent. Of course this is tempered with shivering/shaking, anxiety, lack of sleep, strange feelings around the eyes (possibly due to lack of sleep), and also a strange feeling in the skin and the muscles.
These last two symptoms seem to correlate with 'baclofen underdose' or withdrawal from intrathecally administered baclofen. In the case of baclofen underdose they appear to be regarded as mild symptoms, but in some cases can lead to more severe ones, including multiple organ failure. Another symptom I experience during phenibut withdrawal is itching: this too is mentioned as a symptom of baclofen underdose.
Given the similarity of these two chemicals in property and effect, I wonder if it might not be prudent to investigate or collect subjective experiences of phenibut withdrawal, in case there might be a danger associated with it, as there indeed is with baclofen underdose? Obviously severe symptoms of baclofen underdose occur due to the nature of the intrathecal administration in conjunction with long term therapy (in excess of twelve months). However again, given the similar nature of these two compounds, I wonder if anyone else has experienced such symptoms when withdrawing from phenibut?
Having access to a great variety of medicinal journals, I've investigated phenibut thoroughly, and the majority of information, in fact, the vast majority of information, comes from relatively low dose animal testing in Russia, and there seems to be sparse information available regarding pharmacokinetics. Indeed it is hard to find a great deal of information on short and long term effects of phenibut use in humans, or even on such basic and important issues as toxicity. The most detailed journal article I could find simply re-iterated and summarised the information found in the Russian journal articles, with no real reference to human effect.
I find this particularly concerning given (my perception of) it's popularity and sales increasing - or at the least given that it is being sold for human consumption.
The most comprehensive information on subjective phenibut experience I could find, on Google, on all the journal databases (PubMed, Medline, ScienceDirect, AccessMed, etc - with the majority of these databases covering the same journals), on usenet, in fact anywhere outside of a library (and I suspect inside too), was this very website.
I suppose it is hypocritical of me to have consumed phenibut so carelessly and in combination with other drugs. However my experiences lead me to be all the more concerned about the potential for phenibut withdrawal to be as severe as baclofen underdose.
This is taken from a journal article on ProQuest published in 'Psychosomatics' - it is also available as a link from the Wikipedia page on 'Baclofen', at this address:
Delirium Associated With Baclofen Withdrawal: A Review of Common Presentations and Management Strategies
Raphael J Leo, Daniel Baer. Psychosomatics. Washington: Nov/Dec 2005. Vol. 46, Iss. 6; pg. 503, 5 pgs
...The literature includes several case reports of abrupt-onset psychosis, mood disturbances, and behavioral disturbances arising from abrupt cessation of baclofen use. We suggest that these symptoms can be better conceptualized in the context of delirium. The cause of delirium in these cases can be elusive, but if the delirium is not addressed properly, it may be life-threatening....
...Similarly, neuropsychiatric effects of abrupt baclofen withdrawal are thought to invoke the GABA system as well. Baclofen, like GABA, inhibits CNS pathways involving monoamine neurotransmitter systems. Some researchers have suggested that this inhibition is indirect and that substance P is involved as an intermediary neurotransmitter.15,29 With continued use of baclofen, continuous inhibition of monamine neurotransmitter systems leads to emergence of supersensitive dopamine and noradrenergic receptors. Sudden withdrawal of baclofen would cause a disinhibition of previously suppressed monoamine pathways, that is, a release of norepinephrine and dopamine onto supersensitized receptors, leading to autonomic arousal (e.g., tachycardia, hypertension, agitation, restlessness) and delusions, hallucinations, and delirium....
This might also apply to phenibut, and may be one explanation of phenibut's 'rebound dopaminagenic' effects - and may also be a reason for concern during phenibut withdrawal.
An article entitled "Cyproheptadine for intrathecal baclofen withdrawal." authored by Meythaler, Jay M. Roper, James F. Brunner, Robert C and published Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 84(5):638-42, 2003 May, has some more information (this is available by Ovid only so unfortunately I can't post a link, but since I'm just using the abstract, it might well be available at Google scholar):
Clinical signs and symptoms of ITB (acute intrathecal baclofen) withdrawal of varying severity were assessed by vital signs (temperature, heart rate), physical examination (reflexes, tone, clonus), and patient report of symptoms (itching, nausea, headache, malaise).
More journals indicate more symptoms, generally the more mild such as itching, anxiety, etc., that nonetheless correlate with symptoms induced by phenibut withdrawal.
I only wish more information were available on phenibut toxicity and withdrawal and more specific information were available on it's method of action.
However considering it is often suggested to be very similar in method of action to baclofen, the very concerning and sometimes life-threatening symptoms of baclofen withdrawal may also be manifest in phenibut withdrawal.
I wonder if people might compile their own experiences with regard to phenibut withdrawal, as I'd be interested to look into this further. Again, I hypocritically urge caution when using this substance, especially in high doses, for long periods, or both.
As an addendum: I took phenibut recently, in high doses over the period of three days (5 grams or thereabouts, per day). Two days after the last dose I experienced withdrawal symptoms, though they were much more mild than when taking phenibut over extended periods. For example I had great difficulty sleeping and would be shaken awake by the slightest of sounds. High potency benzodiazepines such as clonazepam, to which I have no tolerance, would have no effect on sleep in high doses (10mg for example did little to facilitate sleep, as strange as that may sound), in the condition I was in. I furthermore experienced anxiety and body temperature irregularities.
Furthermore in relation to my most recent phenibut experiences:
I've experienced cataplexy, automatic movement and narcoleptic symptoms after taking high doses of phenibut. These were generally experienced after staying up for longer than usual periods of time (for example, if my usual bed time was 10PM, these effects would occur at about 4 or 5 am). I slept in my car after a wake one night and the girl I was with told me that in the morning, about two or three hours after we'd gone to sleep, I'd woken her up with violent movements, for example, kicking, arms shaking and head twitches.
Furthermore I've experienced similar symptoms on phenibut when sleep deprived. The next day after the wake, I arrived at home still tired but determined to do some work - and, by the way, still affected by the phenibut taken the day before. I sat and the 'narcoleptic' feeling would overwhelm me (when generally I can stay up for two or three days without drugs and without falling asleep involuntarily), and it would take immense force of will to shake myself out of going to sleep. Even when someone was taking to me, or with me, I'd fall asleep, or nearly fall asleep.
When I fell asleep standing on my feet in a bookshop, it was quite strange as I may have lost consciousness for five or ten minutes but I did not fall forwards or backwards and was not leaning on anything. In this instance I had a strange feeling of being 'overwhelmed' and would also experience cataplexy and shaking and shuddering movements - or a feeling such as that I was able to perceive myself falling asleep but could not move or do anything physically to prevent myself falling asleep, I could only keep myself awake by sensory experience, that is, focusing on a particular noise or sight, i.e through force of will.
I have also experienced an epileptic seizure a month or so after stopping taking phenibut. It would be wild conjecture to say that the phenibut caused the seizure. However, being a GABA agonist it may have contributed to the seizure - though it may not have. The EEG came back clear as did the MRI.
I am not narcoleptic, and have only experienced these effects with high doses of phenibut, in combination with sleep deprivation - or in the case of the withdrawal symptoms, after taking phenibut for some period.
Now I'm not trying to 'rag' on phenibut here. I've been unwise enough to use the compound in high doses for long periods of time. However I think it is important to document different experiences in order that people might be careful when using this drug, because it is a serious and potent drug in terms of it's effects. I would like to investigate further the correlation between phenibut and baclofen withdrawal, so as to determine whether phenibut can possibly damage the brain physically, as baclofen can in the withdrawal phase (after considerably many years of consistent dosing, mind.
Second addendum: I would like to know about people's experiences with horizontal eye nystagmus when taking phenibut. I have a 'lazy' left eye and I notice that it is impossible to focus this eye when I take phenibut. I may go for twenty four hours with one eye drifting to the left and the other focused straight ahead - double vision. It is irritating, but I wonder if others experience the same. Thanks very much.