University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Chronic Phenibut Use: Symptoms, Severe Withdrawal, and Recovery

Bryan VanDreese, DO; Ashley Holland, DO; Andrew Murray, DO

WMJ. 2022;121(1):e1-e4

Download full text pdf.


Introduction: Phenibut is a psychoactive drug with GABAB agonism. It remains unregulated and easily attainable in the United States, where it has become a novel drug of abuse.

Case Presentation: We present the case of a 34-year-old man who used phenibut consistently for 3 years. After 6 months of use, he developed signs of dependence and failed outpatient detoxification. While taking high doses, he experienced parasomnia-like symptoms and periods of dysexecutive function. After abrupt cessation, he developed severe withdrawal symptoms, was hospitalized, and required intubation. His condition improved after 1 week of treatment. After recovery and discharge, he remains stable utilizing an extended taper of acamprosate and baclofen.

Discussion: Phenibut is not detected on urine drug screen and withdrawal symptoms are nonspecific. Optimal treatment of withdrawal remains unknown. Baclofen and phenobarbital have been successful for treatment of dependence.

Conclusion: Clinicians should be aware of phenibut abuse and the potential for dependence and withdrawal.

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic Health System, Eau Claire, Wisconsin (VanDreese, Holland, Murray).
Corresponding Author: Bryan VanDreese, DO, Department of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic Health System, 1221 Whipple St, Eau Claire, WI 54703; phone 715.838.3311; email
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Share WMJ