The term “gas station drugs” doesn’t refer to drugs found in gas station parking lots, but instead drugs that can be purchased inside of gas stations. Recently, a drug called Phenibut was found instead of a dietary supplement called “Addall” being sold inside a gas station. The supplement was advertised as a way to add focus to one’s day, an obvious callout to the prescription name-brand drug, Adderall. However, those aren’t the only supplements being sold at gas stations that contain Phenibut. But what even is Phenibut? Should you be worried about taking it? Can it be addictive? Read more to learn the answers to these questions and more. 

What is Phenibut?

Phenibut is a chemical that’s similar to the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It’s a central nervous system depressant similar to other drugs that affect the GABA receptors, like benzodiazepines or alcohol. Drugs that affect the GABA receptors have a calming effect, often helping to decrease anxiety. However, like benzodiazepines and alcohol, Phenibut can be addictive. 

Phenibut was often prescribed in Russia under the brand names Anvifen, Fenibut, and Noofen. It was used to treat insomnia, depression, stuttering, vestibular disorders, arrhythmia, and PTSD. However, while it has seen some success in other countries, it’s not a licensed drug by the FDA in the United States, meaning that doctors cannot prescribe it here. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unavailable. The drug is still legal to possess and can be found in supplements sold at vitamin stores, through online retailers, and in gas stations. 

While it’s undetermined exactly how addictive this drug is, we have to assume that it has similar effects as other drugs that affect GABA receptors and work on the central nervous system. The fact that this drug is easily accessible is also cause for concern. Not only that, but people don’t often know the dangers of drugs they’re taking, especially if they’re over-the-counter or easily accessible in other places. 

For example, someone may find that “focus” supplement and take it regularly without even knowing what’s inside of it. Because Phenibut does affect the GABA receptors, there’s a chance that users might become dependent on the drug without even realizing it. And of course, there’s a potential for abuse with this drug, just like most other drugs that cause a calming effect. 

What are “Gas Station Drugs”? 

“Gas station drugs” are the type of drugs that can be found in the drug section at gas stations. These drugs typically include over-the-counter type medications like Advil and Tylenol, but sometimes contain things that are more dangerous, such as Phenibut. Not to be confused with drugs that can be found or sold in gas station parking lots, such as gas station heroin, which is known to be more dangerous because it’s often cut with other substances. 

In general, using drugs from unknown sources is always going to be dangerous, because you’ll never know what substance you’re actually getting. The same is true of drugs that you find in the gas station. While you may know what’s in them by looking at the package, many people don’t do that, and just take supplements without doing any research. If it’s sold in a gas station, it must be safe, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

How Does it Work?

Phenibut works by activating the GABA receptors. Because it’s a chemical version of GABA, it replaces what the body might not make on its own. By using Phenibut, people will feel a sense of calm or relief from anxiety. This is confusing, as it’s sold as an aid for focus. However, it isn’t known for having focus-enhancing abilities or being known as an Adderall replacement. 

Who Abuses Phenibut?

There are two types of people who might use Phenibut. First, there are the people who are curious about the product and want to try it out to see if it will help them. They have no ill intentions and often don’t even know what they’re getting themselves into. The second person is already experiencing withdrawal symptoms from another drug, like benzos or alcohol. They’re looking for relief and will try pretty much anything in order to get it. They’re looking for something new to abuse that will help to relieve their symptoms. 

Unfortunately, while one of these two people has good intentions, the outcome is likely bad for both users. The first person, who just wanted to try a new supplement could become addicted without even knowing it. They might start to experience withdrawal symptoms that lead to abuse of the drug or even the use of other drugs in order to relieve their withdrawal symptoms from Phenibut. 

The second person, looking to use Phenibut as a way to help relieve their withdrawal symptoms is only digging themselves deeper and deeper into addiction, and the best way to cease the withdrawal symptoms altogether is to seek treatment. 

For both parties, treatment may be necessary after taking Phenibut long term. Unfortunately, those who are addicted to Phenibut might not even know until they try to stop taking it. When they experience withdrawal symptoms, they’ll be pressured to take more or find another way to calm down the reaction they’re experiencing. For some, that might mean seeking help from a physician, for others, it might mean turning to other drugs or alcohol. 

Signs of Phenibut Addiction 

It can be hard to monitor a loved one (or even yourself) when taking Phenibut. Because there isn’t a ton of research on the drug, it may be hard to know how much is too much or when your body starts to become dependent on the drug. However, if you start to feel like you can’t get through your day without taking the substance, or you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when you cease using it, that’s a telltale sign of dependence. 

Seek Treatment After Using “Gas Station Drugs”

If you or someone you love has been abusing “gas station drugs” like Phenibut, it’s time to seek treatment. To learn more about our treatment programs and how Asheville Recovery Center can help you get and stay sober, call today

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