- 1Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 3Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 4Klinische Psychologie & Psychotherapie, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
- Correspondence to Dr Andriy V Samokhvalov,
Phenibut is a γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) agonist designed and used as an anxiolytic in Russia. In Western countries, phenibut is not a registered medication but is available through online stores as a supplement. We present a case of a patient who used phenibut to self-medicate anxiety, insomnia and cravings for alcohol. While phenibut was helpful initially, the patient developed dependence including tolerance, significant withdrawal symptoms within 3–4 h of last use and failure to fulfil his roles at work and at home. He finally sought medical assistance in our addictions clinic. We have gradually, over the course of 9 weeks, substituted phenibut with baclofen, which has similar pharmacological properties, and then successfully tapered the patient off baclofen. This required approximately 10 mg of baclofen for each gram of phenibut.