Drug and Alcohol

PCP Abuse: Usage, Side-Effects, Risks, and Addiction Treatment

PCP: What Is It?

PCP is a dangerous drug to abuse. Although hard to find, it's still a drug many abuse...with awful results. Learn the dangers of PCP abuse here.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

March 14, 2023

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a mind-altering substance that can cause delusions (a significant disruption in one's view of reality). It is classified as a disruptive drug because it causes distortions in vision, coloring, audio, identity, and surroundings. PCP was created as an IV sedative in the 1950s, but its advancement for modern clinical usage was halted because of potentially serious complications.

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 the age of twelve in 2021 admitted to consuming hallucinogens in the previous year.

What Is PCP?

Ketamine (Ketalar), a sedative used for operations and complex treatments chemically identical to PCP, was created alternatively. PCP is a white crystalline powder that absorbs easily in water or liquor and exhibits a pronounced harsh biochemical flavor in its pure state. In the black market, PCP has a variety of impurities, resulting in a hue that ranges from pale to dark brown and a powdered to sticky mass texture.

Mentioned below are some of the street names of PCP: 

  • Animal tranq

  • Black dust

  • Happy sticks

  • Lethal Weapon

  • Magic dust

  • Goon dust

  • Cliffhanger

  • Horse tranquilizer

  • Angel dust

  • Peter pan

  • Kools

  • Shermans

  • Killer joints

  • Rocket fuel

  • Boat

  • Dipper

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes PCP's physical qualities as white crystalline, bitter-tasting granules which break fast in alcohol or water. It is additionally available as a pill or capsule. PCP can be inhaled, ingested, infused, or sniffed. Ferny plants like mint, basil, and cannabis are frequently sprinkled with the substance, or a wrapped joint is immersed in a PCP mixture and inhaled.

What Are the Effects of PCP on the Brain?

PCP is a brain-affecting substance. This implies it affects your spinal cord and brain and alters your emotions, conduct, and perception of your environment. Experts believe it interferes with the proper function of certain cerebral neurotransmitters. PCP belongs to the hallucinogen class of medications. These psychedelic drugs induce delusions, which enable you to visualize, feel, or hear things when conscious that seem to be genuine but are the work of your brain. PCP is also referred to as a disruptive or dissociative medication. It induces you to feel disconnected from your mind and environment. 

PCP use causes:

  • Hallucinations

  • A sense of dislocation

  • Aggression

  • Mood swings

  • Delusions

The speed with which you experience the outcomes of PCP is determined by your administering method, such as:

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

  • Inhaling: The results start in two to five minutes and peak between fifteen and thirty minutes.

  • Ingesting: PCP's impacts typically begin after thirty minutes of the pill being taken or mixing it with alcohol or other substances. The effects generally rise in two to five hours.

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How Is PCP Taken?

PCP is available in various pills, tablets, and colored powders that can be inhaled, eaten raw, or intranasally (snorted). Smoking represents the most prevalent way when taken casually. PCP base is a thick liquid of PCP that is frequently mixed in ethanol, an extremely combustible solvent. PCP is commonly sprinkled into leafy substances such as basil, cilantro, rosemary, or cannabis for consumption. PCP infusions are also possible.

What Are the Consequences of Occasional PCP Usage?

PCP's impacts can continue for four to six hours. Many folks think that PCP is among the most deadly substances to overuse. A modest dose of PCP can leave users feeling alienated, aloof, and alienated from their outer world.

  • A numbing sensation in parts of the body, difficulty speaking, and loss of awareness may be accompanied by a sensation of power and invincibility

  • The most noticeable consequences include a puzzled stare, quick and reflexive blinking, and an accelerated stride

  • Hearing illusions, picture deformation, severe emotional problems, and disorientation are all possible side effects

  • Intense anxiety with a sense of imminent dread, psychosis, aggressive behavior, and a delusion similar to mental disorders

Mild to medium PCP dosages have the following physical changes:

  • A modest rise in respiratory rate

  • A hike in the systolic and heart rate 

  • Weak breathing

  • Redness and excessive sweating.

  • High dosages of PCP have the following physical changes:

  • A decrease in heartbeat, pulse rate, and breathing

  • Indigestion and vomiting

  • Visual distortion

  • Salivating

  • Vertigo and disturbance of equilibrium

  • Suicide and aggression

Spasms, paralysis, and death could all be triggered by excessive dosages of PCP (following PCP overdose, many people are injured or commit suicide). Neuroses and illusions are among the behavioral consequences of large dosages. People frequently refer to hallucinogenic encounters as a "trip" or a negative one as a "bad trip." Like any injectable psychoactive substance, the danger of AIDS, influenza, and many contagious diseases via needle sharing exist.

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Warning Signs and Symptoms of PCP Abuse

The consequences of PCP differ based on the quantity of active substance consumed and how it is administered. A person may consume PCP since it generates pleasure, hallucinogenic experiences, and a feeling of tranquility. They might, however, have unwanted consequences. For example, an increase in blood pressure, high fever, and pulse rate may occur shortly after consuming a smaller dose.

Conversely, a higher amount has the inverse result, lowering blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiratory patterns.

Short-Term Consequences of PCP Abuse

PCP can induce the following symptoms:

  • Ecstasy

  • Deviation of audio, vision, and embodiment

  • Sentiments of estrangement or dissociation

  • Lack of equilibrium and coordination

  • Sensory loss and incapacity to perceive discomfort

  • Stress, restlessness, and mood disturbances are common symptoms.

  • A sense of imminent doom

  • Tingling in the thighs and arms

Others may observe that the abuser is displaying:

  • Unstable stride and imbalance

  • Dilated pupils and increased flickering of eyes

  • Trouble speaking, slurred or jumbled speech

  • Ambiguity and uncertainty

  • A blank expression

  • Stagnation or immobility

  • Aggressiveness or dismissiveness

  • Poor reasoning

Additional effects include: 

  • Muscle spasm

  • Hallucinations

  • Short-term memory loss

  • Profuse sweating and shaking

  • Unstable pulse rate

  • Nausea or drowsiness

  • Low blood pressure

Increased dosages can elevate the chances of: 

  • Epileptic attacks

  • Paralysis or coma

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Death

Among those who are predisposed to these tendencies, poor judgment and thinking abilities, schizophrenia, anxiety, and self-harm or aggressive conduct may ensue. The individual may experience delusions comparable to that found in schizophrenia. Superhuman energy and toughness, paired with the incapacity to feel discomfort and poor judgment, might result in serious harm.

Because of PCP's severe psychological consequences and violent or deadly conduct, PCP abusers are frequently rushed to treatment centers. Using PCP with other antidepressants, including liquor or pharmaceutical sedatives, might result in unconsciousness. Severe PCP overdose could also be caused if a person while seeking to hide the substance from police, ingests considerable quantities by error owing to body cramping. Because manufacturing and distribution are unlawful and thus uncontrolled, the impacts can be challenging to anticipate.

Long-Term Consequences of PCP Abuse

Long-term consequences usually involve:

  • Fumbling and speech difficulties

  • Difficulties with understanding and remembering

  • Psychological distress

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Societal disengagement and seclusion

  • Flashbacks

They are capable of lasting a year or more. After consuming PCP, many individuals might suffer from recollections and delusions for a significant duration. A hallucinogen-induced persisting perceptual disturbance is what this refers to (HPPD). Hazardous schizophrenia can also occur, leading individuals to experience aggression, confusion, and illusions. These issues can last for a year or over after a person has ceased consuming PCP. Dependency can also emerge as a user's sensitivity to the substance increases. Addiction and issues with psychological well-being make it challenging to operate personally, economically, and practically. This can result in additional difficulties.

Is It Possible to Become Addicted to PCP?

As if the above PCP misuse indications weren't horrible enough, it also is compulsive. An individual will develop a resistance to PCP, which means that additional doses will be required to achieve the desired effect. When people stop consuming it, they will experience discontinuation effects. This implies that regardless of how much harm, pain, risk, or even other problems a human suffers from consuming this lethal psychedelic, they will acquire and ingest it. A PCP user requires fast and significant treatment to escape from this habit.

Regrettably, PCP has grown in popularity in recent years. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly fickle medication that might endanger any consumer or anybody close to a consumer. Whenever a family learns that a beloved one is misusing PCP, the first and only way to protect that individual is to enroll them in an appropriate treatment center as early as possible. PCP is a psychoactive drug, and its usage frequently results in mental obsession, yearning, and compulsive PCP-seeking activities. Long-term PCP patients say the following signs and symptoms:

  • Brain malfunction

  • Language and cognitive challenges

  • Distress

  • Loss of body mass that may continue up to a year following discontinuing PCP usage

PCP has relaxing properties, and combinations with other antidepressants, including liquor and benzodiazepines, might result in unconsciousness or poisoning. Numerous PCP abusers are transported to hospital emergency rooms due to the drug's harsh potential issues or fatalities. They frequently turn aggressive or desperate at a clinic or prison facility, endangering themselves and many others. They must be maintained in a peaceful environment and not left unattended.

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Withdrawal Symptoms and PCP Addiction Treatment

The foremost step for quitting PCP is to search out psychosocial interventions. Withdrawal symptoms may develop if PCP is abruptly discontinued. Anybody wanting to rehabilitate following PCP use will require clinical monitoring and, in some cases, inpatient care.

Among the symptoms of PCP withdrawal are:

  • Yearning

  • Cognitive dissonance

  • Anxiety or depressive disorders

While unpleasant, withdrawal from PCP is not fatal. Yet, restoration requires a while since the individual will require assistance while they develop the abilities required for a drug-free existence. In addition, individuals who have chronic problematic behaviors or unpleasant emotional effects may require psychiatric examination and therapy for mental health concerns.

How Is a PCP Addiction Treated?

A PCP user's conduct can sometimes be hazardous to himself and bystanders. The individual must begin care or, if feasible, for loved ones to intercede. Because it might be challenging for families to engage, hiring a fully qualified practitioner to address the loved one could be useful. Therapy in a substance recovery center or with an addiction specialist is advised.

When people quit using PCP regularly, they frequently encounter drug impulses, increased diet, migraines, tiredness, sadness, and perspiration as side effects. While research is being conducted to investigate medication treatment alternatives for PCP dependency, there are currently no particular authorized therapies for PCP usage and dependence. To tackle addiction issues involving PCP, individuals might have to be taken to the hospital and undergo cognitive treatments.

The Edge Treatment Center Treats PCP Abuse and More

PCP is relatively rare these days, but it's still around. Addictive and unpredictable, PCP is a dangerous drug to abuse. Fortunately, PCP addiction is also treatable. The Edge Treatment Center will help you leave PCP abuse behind.

We'll start by finding you a drug detox center where you can safely detox from PCP. The Edge will also help find you inpatient drug rehab if you need it. When you attend The Edge Treatment Center, we'll continue to build on your successful work in rehab, helping you create a life without PCP abuse.

PCP is a very risky drug to abuse. Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today and learn more about our effective, evidence-based care for PCP addiction.

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