The drug PCP – or phencyclidine – is a hallucinogenic, dissociative drug that is often referred to as angel dust, amp, rocket fuel, and animal tranquilizer, among many other street names. Developed in the 1950s, as an intravenous anesthetic drug, caused many dangerous side effects that led to the discontinuation of the medical use of PCP. Still, some people abuse the drug, despite the dangerous side effects associated with angel dust.

In 2013, SAMHSA reported 32,000 individuals 12 and older used PCP for the first time a year prior to the release of the study. The initial euphoria provoked by the recreational use of angel dust leaves users at high risk for the potential of developing a PCP addiction. This addictive substance prompts cravings, compulsive behavior, and psychological dependence according to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC).

Angel dust is highly addictive. Therefore, individuals who are struggling with an addiction to PCP may not only require hospitalization but residential rehabilitation as well. In this article, you will learn more about the dangerous side effects of angel dust and how you can determine if you or your loved one is addicted to PCP.

Side Effects of Angel Dust

As a nonmedical, dangerous recreational drug, angel dust is often found in powdered form and is often smoked, injected, drank, eaten, and some users even dip their cigarettes in the drug to achieve a high. Categorized as a hallucinogen, PCP affects each individual differently. In the best-case scenario, the individual will consume angel dust and receive a sense of euphoria along with some perceptual changes. Unfortunately, this drug also produces various dangerous physical and mental side effects for a number of users.

Other side effects of angel dust include:

  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Calmness
  • Disorientation and detachment from reality
  • Changes in awareness of the body
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Agitation
  • Flushed skin
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Profuse sweating
  • Combativeness
  • Erratic behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Memor loss
  • Stupor
  • Uncontrollable eye movement
  • Loss of motor function
  • Rigid muscles
  • Blank stare
  • Shallow breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma/Death

As mentioned before, the side effects of angel dust often vary from person to person. PCP often leaves the user feeling estranged from the world around them. Many individuals also experience anxiety or paranoia, often indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Angel dust hallucinations often come in the form of auditory, visual, and even mood disorders. Numbness throughout the body as well as slurred speech, and impaired motor functionality are also symptoms associated with PCP abuse.

Long Term Effects of PCP Addiction

Once an individual has become addicted to PCP, they will experience a variety of dangerous physical and mental side effects. It is not uncommon for long-term angel dust abusers to suffer from psychosis during one or more episodes of intoxication – which can lead to a permanent state of this mental disorder.

Another serious long-term side effect of PCP is an episode often referred to as a “run” in which the individual will consistently use the drug without eating or sleeping for 2-3 days or longer. During this time individuals may experience realistic “flashbacks” to hallucinations they experienced while high on PCP.

Other long term side effects of PCP include:

  • Stuttering
  • Inability to find words
  • Inability to articulate thoughts
  • Persistent disordered thoughts
  • Serious anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Kidney, liver, brain, and lung damage

PCP is a CNS depressant, meaning it interacts with certain receptors in the brain that lead to the changing of its primary function. Angel dust can lead to coma, overdose, and even death. More often than not, individuals who abuse PCP are often hospitalized due to the effects it has on the brain due to an overdose. Angel dust is a highly addictive substance and individuals often require long-term inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation in order to maintain long-term sobriety.

Getting Help for Angel Dust Addiction

There are specific groups of individuals who are more susceptible to abusing this specific type of hallucinogenic drug, but that does not mean everyone else is immune. The following groups of individuals are predisposed to experimenting with and possibly falling into the cycle of PCP addiction:

  • Individuals who are prone to addiction or who have underlying co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and any other mental health disorder.
  • Individuals who easily succumb to peer pressure.
  • Young adults
  • Individuals who have tried other hallucinogenic drugs
  • Impulsive individuals
  • Victims of trauma

The short-term and long-term effects of PCP abuse and addiction are very serious. Individuals are at risk of not only developing a psychological dependence but also experiencing lifelong symptoms due to angel dust abuse. PCP is extremely addictive, therefore, many individuals who abuse this drug often experience withdrawal symptoms after the dose wears off.

Withdrawal symptoms of angel dust include:

  • Drug craving
  • Memory loss
  • Amnesia
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability

These withdrawal symptoms combined with the potential difficulties with speech, learning, weight loss, and depression often require individuals to be hospitalized and receive addiction treatment in order to recover. Detox will end the body’s physical dependence on PCP and should be monitored by a team of medical professionals. It is extremely important that individuals addicted to angel dust receive comprehensive drug treatment in order to safely and effectively overcome their addiction.