Drug and Alcohol

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

PCP can stay in your system for months. But that's one of the least dangerous things about this substance. Learn more about PCP in our blog.

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

April 19, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Phencyclidine, better known as PCP, is a mind-altering drug that can create delusions (severe disruptions in one's perception of reality). It is classified as a disruptive medication since it causes visual, color, audio, identity, and environmental distortions.

In the 1950s, PCP was developed as an IV sedative, but its advancement for modern clinical use was discontinued due to potentially dangerous consequences. Ketamine (Ketalar), a sedative that is chemically identical to PCP and is used for procedures and difficult treatments, was developed as an alternative.

In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that absorbs swiftly in water or liquor and has a distinct unpleasant biochemical odor. In the underground market, PCP has a variety of impurities, resulting in a pale to dark brown tint and a powdery to sticky texture.

By the Numbers:

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 7.4 million adults over twelve in 2021 admitted to consuming hallucinogens in the previous year.

Mentioned below are some of the street names of PCP:

  • Animal tranq

  • Embalming fluid

  • Black dust

  • Happy sticks

  • Belladonna

  • Lethal Weapon

  • Magic dust

  • Horse tranquilizer

  • Angel dust

  • Peter pan

  • Peace Pills

  • Amp

  • Kools

  • Shermans

  • Killer joints

  • Rocket fuel

  • Amoeba

  • Boat

  • Dipper

PCP's physical characteristics are described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as white crystalline, bitter-tasting granules that are dissolved in alcohol or water. It's also available as a tablet or capsule. PCP is a drug that can be breathed, swallowed, infused, or sniffed. The material is typically sprinkled on ferny plants like mint, basil, and cannabis, or a wrapped joint is soaked in a PCP mixture and breathed.

How Is PCP Taken?

PCP is available in pills, tablets, and colored powders that can be inhaled, eaten uncooked, or taken intranasally (snorted). When used informally, smoking is the most common method. PCP base is a thick liquid of PCP that is usually mixed with ethanol, which is a highly flammable solvent. PCP is frequently mixed into leafy substances for use, such as basil, cilantro, rosemary, or cannabis. PCP injections are also an option.

What Is the Half-Life of PCP?

PCP has an approximate half-life of 7-46 hours. The half-life of PCP inside the body is approximately 21 hours. A medication's half-life is the duration required for a person's digestion to decrease the substance to 50% of its initial concentration. This metric is frequently employed to determine how long a given medicine will be in a person's body. Medications that are lipid-soluble last in the body for more time than those that are water-soluble. PCP is a lipophilic compound.

The drug is eliminated through numerous mechanisms; however, the liver is the principal organ that is responsible for chemical removal. When the substance is inhaled, the warmth destroys over 50% of it, whereas when it is administered or huffed, the opposite is the situation. If a person takes an average amount of PCP, depending on the usual half-life of the substance, this might take somewhere between 1.5 to 10 days to eradicate the substance from the bloodstream.

Yet, while PCP is fat-soluble, it can be retained in the body's fatty tissues, resulting in a significantly prolonged half-life of up to seventy-two hours for most patients. In this scenario, it would take an individual about 17 days to eliminate PCP from their system.

The drug's half-life may differ slightly from person to person. This is because numerous parameters, such as the kind of medication used, determine the time a drug remains in a user's body.

What is the half life of PCP? This image describes the half life of PCP

How Long Does PCP Stay in Your System?

PCP stays inside the body for 7-46 hours. Then, a conventional drug examination is conducted to identify PCP so experts can accurately trace the substance within a person's system. Drug tests may include checking your bodily fluids, saliva, plasma, or hair, and educational institutions and businesses utilize them for mandated drug testing of learners, workers, and personnel.

Mentioned below are time detection details for various systems of the body:

PCP in Urine

PCP can be detected in urine for up to four to six hours immediately after usage and up to seven to fourteen days.

PCP in Blood

It's possible to detect PCP in blood up to one to four hours after usage.

PCP in Hair

PCP can be detected in hair five to ten days after the first dose and up to 3 months after it was last used.

PCP in Saliva

Traces in PCP can be found in saliva for up to five to ten minutes right after a single dose and stays up to three days as an overall duration.

Hair examinations are employed over the long haul to check for the existence of PCP, particularly in recovered patients. It should be noted that blood examinations are often performed in extreme situations. Collecting blood drug specimens immediately after use is best because plasma concentration spikes within the initial 4 hours.

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Which Factors Influence How Long PCP Stays in Your System?

Further considerations, outlined in the publication Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Abused Drugs, involve:

  • The time frame for which the user consumed the medication, how frequently they consumed it, and the normal dosage

  • Individual differences in metabolic activities

  • Personal traits like age, muscle mass, gender, heredity, and kidney and liver function: People with corrosive solid urine excrete PCP quicker than those with lower alkaline urine.

  • How PCP is taken

  • Intake of other medicines with PCP: Several drugs, including stimulants, the sleep prescription Viagra, and others, influence PCP digestion, and people who take these medications with PCP will have more PCP in their systems.

What Are the Neurological Consequences of PCP?

On the medical level, PCP is an ineffective NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor blocker and glutamate receptor antagonist; however, it also binds to other particular receptors and may affect dopaminergic, opiate, and cholinergic channels. PCP is a mind-altering drug. This suggests that it impacts your spinal cord and brain, altering your emotions, behavior, and perception of your surroundings.

According to experts, it is thought to interfere with the proper operation of some cerebral neurotransmitters. PCP is a medicine in the hallucinogen class. These psychedelic substances cause delusions, which allow you to see, feel, or hear things when you are conscious that appear to be genuine but are the work of your brain. PCP is also known as a dissociative or disruptive medicine. It makes you feel distant from your mind and surroundings.

You may have the following symptoms if you use PCP:

  • You feel cut off from reality.

  • Pleasure (elation or "buzz") and diminished control, similar to intoxication.

  • Your mind is sharp, and you have superhuman talents and are fearless.

Your administering technique determines how quickly you experience PCP's effects, such as:


PCP's effects begin two to five minutes after being injected into a vein.


The effects begin two to five minutes after inhalation and peak between fifteen and thirty minutes.


The effects of PCP normally begin thirty minutes after taking PCP orally or mixing it with alcohol or other substances. The effects usually appear within two to five hours.

PCP Abuse Warning Signs and Symptoms

The effects of PCP vary depending on the amount of active substance eaten and how it is delivered. A person may ingest PCP because it produces pleasure, psychedelic experiences, and a sense of tranquility. Yet, they may have unintended consequences. Following a lesser dose, blood pressure, high fever, and pulse rate may increase. A higher amount has the opposite effect, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing patterns.

PCP can cause the following side effects:

  • Feelings of euphoria

  • Audio, vision, and embodiment deviation

  • Estrangement or dissociation feelings

  • Inadequate balance and coordination

  • Sensory loss and the inability to detect discomfort

  • Tension, agitation, and mood swings are common symptoms

  • A foreboding of impending disaster

  • Tingling sensations in the thighs and arms

  • Others may notice the abused person exhibiting:

  • Uneven stride and imbalance

  • Dilated pupils and increased eye flickering

  • Slurred or garbled speech, difficulty speaking

  • Uncertainty and ambiguity

  • A vacant expression

  • Stability or immobility

  • Dismissiveness or aggression

  • Ineffective reasoning

Other consequences can include:

  • Muscle spasms

  • Hallucinations

  • Loss of short-term memory

  • Excessive sweating and shaking

  • Pulse rate instability

  • Drowsiness or nausea

  • Low blood pressure

Higher dosages can increase the likelihood of:

  • Epileptic seizures

  • Insomnia or coma

  • Muscle wasting

  • Death

Poor judgment and reasoning abilities, schizophrenia, anxiety, and self-harm or aggressive behavior may result in those inclined to these inclinations. In addition, the individual may have delusions similar to those seen in schizophrenia. Superhuman vitality and tenacity, combined with the inability to feel discomfort and poor judgment, have the potential to do catastrophic harm.

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Is It Possible to Develop a PCP Addiction?

As if the preceding PCP overuse symptoms weren't bad enough, it's also compulsive. Individuals will develop resistance to the medicine, requiring more dosages to obtain the desired effect. In addition, people will have discontinuation effects if they stop using it. This means that no matter how many injuries, pain, risk, or other problems a person endures from eating this lethal psychedelic, they will continue to obtain and consume it. A PCP addict requires immediate and significant treatment to break the habit.

Unfortunately, PCP has gained popularity in recent years. This is a highly volatile drug that could endanger any consumer or anyone near a consumer. Surveillance film made public shows PCP addicts sleeping in the street, walking around naked, and abusing people and objects. When a family learns that a loved one is abusing PCP, the first and only way to protect that person is to enroll them in an approved treatment center as soon as possible. PCP is a psychoactive drug that frequently causes mental preoccupation, desire, and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior. Patients with long-term PCPs report the following signs and symptoms:

  • Problems in the brain

  • Language and cognitive difficulties

  • Distress

  • Loss of body mass that can last up to a year after stopping PCP use

PCP has soothing qualities, and when combined with other antidepressants, such as booze and benzodiazepines, it can cause unconsciousness or poisoning. Because of the drug's extreme potential difficulties or fatalities, many PCP users are brought to hospital emergency rooms. They frequently become angry or desperate at a clinic or prison, harming themselves and others.

Therefore, they must be kept in a pleasant setting and not left alone.

Withdrawal Symptoms and PCP Addiction Treatment

The first step in stopping PCP is to look for psychological therapies. If PCP is abruptly stopped, detoxification symptoms may emerge. Anybody seeking to recover from PCP use will require clinical monitoring and, in some situations, hospitalization. Among the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Drug cravings

  • Dissonance in cognition

  • Mood disorders including anxiety and depression

While it is uncomfortable, discontinuing PCP is not lethal. Yet, rehabilitation takes time since the individual will require assistance while developing the skills needed for a drug-free life. In addition, people with persistently troublesome behaviors or adverse emotional impacts may require psychiatric evaluation and therapy for mental health issues.

What Is the Treatment for PCP Addiction?

A PCP user's behavior might sometimes endanger the person itself and others. If possible, the individual must initiate care or have loved ones intervene. Because it may be difficult for families to engage, hiring a fully qualified practitioner to address the loved one may be beneficial. Treatment in a facility or with an addiction expert is recommended. When people discontinue taking PCP regularly, they typically experience drug cravings, increased diet, migraines, exhaustion, melancholy, and sweat as adverse effects.

While research is being performed to study pharmacological treatment options for PCP addiction, there are no specific approved medications for PCP usage and dependence. Individuals may need to be hospitalized and undergo cognitive therapy to address PCP addiction difficulties. As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there are currently no FDA-approved treatments to address PCP or any other psychotic drug dependency. Further studies are required to discover whether psychotherapy can be utilized to manage schizophrenia substance abuse. Numerous rehabilitation facilities will assist you in PCP addiction management, such as: 

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PCP Abuse Is Dangerous. Get Help at The Edge Treatment Center

PCP stays in your system long enough to create dangerous situations. PCP is a very risky drug to abuse. The Edge Treatment Center can effectively treat PCP addiction. Our evidence-based programs help people leave addiction behind by giving them the resources, coping mechanisms, and tools they need to build a lifetime of sobriety for themselves.

Want to learn more about our effective PCP treatment programs? Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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