Phencyclidine (PCP) started out as a medical dissociative anesthetic in the 1950s but abated in usage after reports of severe anxiety, agitation and hallucinations in patients.
Also called “angel dust,” PCP’s popularity returned recreationally in the 1970s for its psychedelic escapist effects, but again faded with growing links to aggressive, violent and suicidal episodes among users.
Today, Phencyclidine still surfaces in illicit drug markets: misrepresented, mixed in and sold as Ecstasy, MDMA or other popular club drugs.
PCP is one of the only illicit drugs on the clinical radar to date that can cause long-term psychological damage with even minimal usage. As such, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule I substance along with the most dangerous drugs. Sovereign Health provides holistic mental and bodily recovery treatment for PCP abuse.
PCP on the black market can range in color depending on purity but is typically sold as a bitter, crystalline powder. The powder is consumed through an eye drop, injected, ingested orally, snorted or smoked along with tobacco, marijuana or other herbs.
When snorted or smoked, PCP effects can last as long as six hours. Consumed orally, highs can go on as long as 24 hours. It’s a matter of life and death to note PCP’s effects can vary drastically due to its synthetic composition and adulterants, a standard dose can be as unpredictable as the drug’s effects.
Symptoms of PCP Abuse
Some symptoms of PCP abuse are:
- Elevated body temperature
- Panic and terror
- Rigid muscles
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Volleying in blood pressure
Red Flags of PCP Abuse
- Appearing drunk – staggering, slurred speech
- Highly erratic behavior
- Invincible self-perception
- Imperviousness to pain
- Rapid changes in emotion – from apathy to severe agitation
PCP Inside the Body
PCP works by suppressing the brain’s pain receptor, glutamate. The neurotransmitter glutamate also plays emotion and memory function.
PCP also has an effect on the neurotransmitter dopamine, a participant of the brain’s reward system and agent behind euphoric feelings.
Likely the most infamous quality of PCP is its link with violence. Media images of drug users imbued with incredible strength during violent rages come to mind. PCP also causes visual and auditory hallucinogenic effects, coupled with dissociative qualities, which can make users completely unaware of their surroundings or even if physical altercations are really happening.
Long-term use can lead to chronic speech difficulties, vivid flashbacks, long-term psychosis and hallucinations even years after use.
The dopamine release and flood of euphoria during the high make PCP addicting, despite knowledge of its other negative side effects. PCP addiction treatment must be comprehensive and brain restorative; alternatives to abuse must help recovered users unlock their brain’s pleasure centers in a sober and sound way.