Understanding PCP Abuse and Addiction
Phencyclidine (PCP) is a powerful drug that produces physical, psychoactive, and hallucinogenic effects on users. The drug was first used as an anesthetic in the 1950s before becoming popularized as a recreational drug in the 1960s. Although the drug isn’t as popular today as it was in the 1960s and 70s, it is still abused throughout the United States. People who abuse the drug may experience dangerous side effects and develop a PCP addiction.
What You Should Know About Phencyclidine (PCP)
PCP is a hallucinogenic drug that is known for producing feelings of euphoria, detachment, and disassociation. As a drug with a high potential for abuse and dependence, PCP is considered a Schedule II drug alongside other highly addictive substances, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and more. Although PCP is the most common name for the drug, other street names for PCP include:
- Angel dust
- Animal trank
- Embalming fluid
- Peace pills
- Super grass
PCP may come in the form of a yellow or clear liquid, or in the form of a pill or powder that dissolves easily in water. In addition to drinking it in a liquid, people may smoke, snort, or inject the drug. PCP is widely known for producing terrifying delusions, irritability, anxiety, and difficult withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the drug start to wear off.
PCP is particularly dangerous when it is mixed with other substances. For example, common drugs that get mixed with PCP are ecstasy, LSD, methamphetamine, and mescaline. On the other hand, some people have reported taking what they thought was another substance, only to find out it was laced with PCP. Others will dip cigarettes in PCP liquid and smoke the cigarettes to get high. In the end, it is impossible to know what you’re getting when purchasing an illegal drug such as this on the streets. When people abuse PCP, they put themselves at risk of dangerous side effects as well as to developing an addiction.
How PCP Abuse Leads to Addiction
Phencyclidine is a highly addictive chemical that affects the brain’s chemical processes in a variety of different ways. When people first consume PCP, they may experience a burst of joy, energy, and rapid thought processes. The effects of the drug kick in within minutes after using the drug, so people may experience the high from PCP within 2-5 minutes after snorting or smoking it. These effects may last anywhere from half an hour to an hour. However, if someone swallows PCP, it may take up to 30 minutes to kick in, but the high may last anywhere between 2 and 5 hours.
After repeated use, people may become addicted to PCP because of the mood and mind-altering states it produces, especially if people are seeking so-called “spiritual” experiences. While the side effects of PCP depend on how much was taken and by which method of administration, common symptoms of PCP abuse include:
- Paranoia and delusions
- Hallucinations and confusion
- An exaggerated sense of strength
- Physical or psychological distress
- Rapid heart and breathing rate
- Muscle cramps
- Increased blood pressure
- Feelings of detachment
- Loss of coordination
Everyone who takes PCP may have a different experience as each “trip” may have different symptoms. One common side effect of PCP is that it can make users especially aggressive and anxious.
If a person abuses PCP for an extended period of time, they may develop a tolerance to the drug. This means their body is used to having the drug in the system and it requires higher doses of it in order to produce the euphoric effects. Once tolerance develops, physical and psychological dependence comes soon after. If a person is physically dependent on PCP, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. Tolerance and dependence are two key aspects of PCP addiction.
People who are addicted to PCP may experience an inability to control how much and how often they use the drug. They may also experience the more negative side effects of PCP. For example, chronic PCP abuse and addiction can lead to mania, flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, and social isolation. Furthermore, like any other addiction, people who are addicted to PCP may place obtaining and using the drug as their top priority, above family, school, work, and more. This ultimately leads to a variety of social, emotional, mental, and physical consequences.
Treatment for PCP Addiction
When someone who is addicted to PCP decides to stop taking the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as drug cravings, depression, confusion, and more. Medical detox is crucial in helping these patients overcome their cravings and endure withdrawal safely. After detox, individuals should seek help from an inpatient or outpatient rehab program so they can heal from the effects of their addiction. Treatment consists of medication, behavioral therapy, and peer support.
Get Help for Addiction Today
Long term PCP abuse can lead to a variety of damaging social, emotional, and physical health effects. Finding help sooner rather than later is the key to getting and staying healthy. If you or a loved one are abusing PCP, dipping cigarettes in PCP, or are suffering from PCP addiction, contact one of our dedicated treatment providers today.
At Comprehensive Wellness Centers, we have a variety of treatment options available to help you and our admissions counselors can help you determine which option is right for you.
Medically Reviewed: September 14, 2021
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.