The Increasing Trend of Phenibut

Written by: Jermaine Galloway, May 8, 2023

What is Phenibut and where does it come from? Phenibut is a non-FDA approved, powerful synthetic depressant that is not new to our streets across the US. Most states have no regulations on Phenibut and many labs don’t test for it. For those who have attended my classes, I have trained on Phenibut for years. In recent years, I have begun to see Phenibut in many more over-the-counter stores. I believe the increase of Phenibut is due to many factors that impact this street level drug.

First, I would like to highlight the association users make between Phenibut and Tianeptine. We are seeing multiple states ban Tianeptine. Tianeptine is a drug that is popular with heroin and other opioid seekers. Tianeptine is commonly sold at the same stores as Phenibut and many of the same individuals who understand Tianeptine, understand Phenibut. (Check out my article on Tianeptine here)

Second, Phenibut tends to have very low price points. I commonly see this drug sold for $6-$10 dollars. Phenibut generally doesn’t carry age restrictions and is being sold in gas stations, smoke shops and shopping malls. This trend emphasizes the correlation between more availability and cheap price points, leading to more use.

Finally, Phenibut is rarely tested for in drug tests and many seeking drugs will use Phenibut to avoid drug detection. Many have not heard of Phenibut, due to the fact that it goes under other names. One of the most common names for Phenibut is b-phenyl-y-amino-butyric-acid. This drug will also be sold under various brand names, rarely using the name Phenibut as the title on the front of the bottle. Phenibut is also commonly sold as a “dietary supplement” or “mood enhancer.” With Phenibut being an incredibly potent depressant, you will see individuals using it to help blunt opioid withdrawals, adding to heroin to spike the euphoria, and / or adding it to other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Others will use it for stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. During one of my drug interviews on the east coast I was talking to a young lady who was a clerk in a smoke shop. She mentioned that she once consumed (a local brand of Phenibut) with ½ of a margarita and shared that she was wasted, throwing up and couldn’t stand up.

Per the FDA website, “Because Phenibut does not fit any of the categories of dietary ingredients under the FD&C Act, any dietary supplements that declare Phenibut as a dietary ingredient are misbranded.” In conclusion, educate those who may not know about Phenibut and have your policies in place for illegal and legal drugs that are misused and abused. In addition, read the labels on any products you may find.

Remember, You Can’t Stop What You Don’t Know!