PCP – clinically Phencyclidine – is a synthetic “dissociative” drug, originally developed as a general anesthetic. Today, pharmaceutical PCP is only rarely as a veterinary tranquilizer. Currently, the drug continues to be manufactured in small amounts for research and testing, but the majority of the drug is manufactured illegally and contributes to PCP addiction and abuse.
In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that dissolves easily in water or alcohol. As a liquid, it is clear, yellow, or tan and often is sold in vanilla extract bottles. PCP is also mixed with dyes to produce colored powder, tablets or capsules.
The history of this chemical substance dates back to the 1920’s when it was initially developed. In the 1950’s, PCP was administered intravenously, as a surgical anesthetic. Due to a number of unwanted side effects – such as hallucinations, delirium and mania – it fell out of favor as a substance with practical medical use.
Common Street Names
Common street names to described Phencyclidine are:
- Angel Dust
- Embalming Fluid
- Killer Weed
- PeaCe Pill
- Rocket Fuel
Supergrass and Killer Joints are names that refer to PCP combined with marijuana.
PCP Addiction and Abuse
People that use PCP consistently will begin craving the drug and will likely engage in risky, dangerous, or illegal behaviors to acquire and use more of the substance.
Physiologic dependency becomes an issue with extended PCP use. When dependency develops, the user’s body has grown accustomed to the effects of the drug, and will function or will be perceived by the dependent individual to function sub-optimally without it.
PCP addiction originates primarily because of its “dissociative” characteristic: the feelings of detachment from oneself or the environment. Since PCP is an analgesic, the person can come to crave the numbness of the mind and body that often is experienced.
At high doses of PCP, there is a drop in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness.
Continued abuse of PCP will lead to lasting brain damage. PCP addiction often co-occurs with marijuana and/or alcohol addiction. Together these addictions require high levels of medical attention to surmount.
PCP Side Effects
PCP disrupts the functioning of receptors for the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays a major role in the perception of pain as well as in learning, memory, and emotion. It also influences the actions of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes the euphoria associated with drug use;
Short-term effects of the drug are:
- Mild to intense euphoria
- Relaxation or drowsiness
- Feelings of unreality and dissociation with the environment
- Distorted sense of one’s body, including a feeling of weightlessness
- Distorted sense of time and space
- Visual and auditory hallucinations and other sensory distortions
- Difficulty concentrating and thinking
- Paranoid thoughts
- Confusion and disorientation
- Intense feelings of alienation
- Bizarre or hostile behavior
- Obsession with trivial matters
- Grandiose delusions
- Panic, terror, and the overwhelming fear of imminent death
The short-term effects will vary in intensity depending on the dosage. Furthermore, the long-term effects of PCP use is what caused the whole disruption of its medical use. Some of the long-term effects are:
- “Runs”: Chronic users may binge use PCP, taking it repeatedly for 2 or 3 days at a time without eating or sleeping, followed by a period of sleep. These runs may occur as many as four times in a month
- Impaired memory
- “Flashbacks”: Similar to those experienced by chronic LSD users
- Persistent speech problems, such as stuttering, inability to articulate, and inability to speak at all
- Chronic and severe anxiety and depression, possibly leading to suicide attempts
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Toxic psychosis may appear in chronic users who do not have a prior history of psychiatric disturbances. The symptoms of toxic psychosis are aggressive or hostile behavior, paranoia, delusional thinking and auditory hallucinations
These long-term effects of PCP can persist up to a year after cessation of PCP use.
Treatment for PCP Addiction and Abuse
PCP addiction treatment is similar to treatments for other physically non-addictive hallucinogens. If a person has become addicted to PCP, their perception of reality may be distorted, and they may exhibit schizophrenic behaviors. The focus needs to concentrate on how to help the PCP user live without thinking they must have to PCP to function normally.
It is important to find a PCP addiction treatment program that will use multiple approaches to help overcome the addiction. The user not only needs help to stop using PCP, they need assistance in addressing any underlying emotional issues or traumas that may have led to using PCP.
There are drug treatment centers that can help with defeating PCP addiction and abuse. They will take a multidisciplinary approach to creating an individualized detoxification program utilizing several different treatment modalities. Support programs, treatment therapies and behavioral therapies will be combined to provide a holistic approach to quitting PCP abuse. The first step in this arduous trek is acknowledging there is a problem and asking for help from friends and family.
Call White Sands Tampa at 1-877-640-7820 now if you or someone you love is suffering from PCP addiction.