Purpose of Review
Phenibut (β-phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid) is a psychoactive GABA analogue currently being marketed online as an anxiolytic and nootropic dietary supplement. Its use is growing in popularity, but its pharmacological activity is well beyond that of a conventional nutritional supplement, and similar to that of a prescription strength sedative. This review will focus on the potential adversities of phenibut use and will discuss what treatment options may be beneficial to afflicted patients.
Over the last several years, multiple case reports have highlighted phenibut’s potential to produce the conditions of physical dependence, withdrawal, and addiction. In cases involving intoxication, patients have presented with a varying degree of mental status changes, from being minimally responsive to manifesting symptoms of an agitated delirium.
Phenibut is a potent psychoactive substance with GABAB agonist properties, which is emerging as a drug of misuse through growing internet sales. Its marketing as a “dietary supplement” is inaccurate and misleading, given its pharmacological profile and ability to induce the physiological changes associated with withdrawal and physical dependence.
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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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The author and publisher would like to thank Dr. Patricia Ordorica, MD, for reviewing this manuscript.
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Edward A. Jouney declares no potential conflicts of interest.
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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues
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Jouney, E.A. Phenibut (β-Phenyl-γ-Aminobutyric Acid): an Easily Obtainable “Dietary Supplement” With Propensities for Physical Dependence and Addiction. Curr Psychiatry Rep 21, 23 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-019-1009-0
- New psychoactive substance
- GABAB agonist
- Dietary supplement