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What is PCP?

Posted by arizonarecovery on May 22, 2020

Phencyclidine or commonly known as PCP is a dissociative drug that may cause hallucinations. The drug has sedative and anesthetic effects that are almost trans-like and people who use PCP explained a feeling where they feel detached from their body. 

Developed in the 1950s, the drug was primarily used as an intravenous anesthetic, however, due to the neurotoxic side effects it was later discontinued for human medical use. It has a bitter chemical taste with a crystalline white appearance in its purest form. Due to a large number of contaminants, the PCP sold in the illicit market has a gummy appearance and has a color ranging anywhere between light to dark brown. 

How it is taken? 

The drug is available as pills, capsules, and tablets for oral consumption. However, it also comes in colored powder which can be either smoked or taken through the intranasal route, or snorted

PCP is most commonly smoked than it is snorted. Before smoking, the drug is sprayed into mint, parsley, marijuana, or even oregano. PCP is also available in the illicit market in the liquid form which is made using a PCP base dissolved in ether. Addicts also inject the drug into their bodies for the effects to show up soon. The trans-like feeling it causes lasts for about 4-6 hours. 

What are the effects of using PCP?

Phencyclidine is known to many as the most dangerous drug to abuse. Just an average amount of PCP can cause a person to feel distant and detached from their body, causes hallucination, and makes them completely unaware of the surroundings. 

The effects further worsen when the addict starts feeling numbness, slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, vulnerability, and loss of strength. Though these effects are pretty much similar to almost any other drug that the addicts abuse, PCP also causes rapid and involuntary eye movement, a blank stare, distorting vision, anxiety, acute mood disorders, and amnesia at the extremities. The drug is dangerous and not only affects the one who takes it physically but also snatches away the mental and emotional well-being of a healthy individual. 

Can PCP intake result in addiction? 

PCP is addictive by nature and a one or two-time thing soon converts into a psychological dependence, irresistible urge to take the drug, and aggressive behavior. If taken consistently and/or daily, the drug can develop an addiction that is hard to get rid of. If you think anyone around you is suffering from addiction, here are the symptoms that would sound an alarm:

  • Frequent and uncontrollable mood swings. 
  • Depression and anxiety of any kind. 
  • Difficulty in learning and speaking. 
  • Loss of physical coordination. 
  • Inappropriate and fast eye movement.
  • All of a sudden weight loss. It can persist even after stopping PCP use. 

While these symptoms are most commonly observed in people who have started developing an addiction for the drug, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are addicted to it. But if you do see these symptoms very frequently in someone around you, it is time to take action. 

How risky is PCP? 

The risk associated with PCP depends primarily on how frequently it is taken. People on low or moderate doses of PCP observes the high similar to what’s experienced with alcohol. The effect follows with the numbness of hands, feet, and irregular or a poor muscular combination. 

When taken high doses of this deadly drug, the addict may experience hallucinations, and even coma and death in some cases. However, death is either caused by an accidental injury that may have happened because of PCP overdose. Further, an extremely high intake of PCP can also cause a garbled speech, paranoia, delusions, a feeling of flying away from the body, and catatonia. Some more side effects of high doses are:

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure and pulse rate. 
  • Distorting and blurred vision. 
  • Unintentional drooling. 
  • Dizziness and nausea. 
  • Violent traits and anxiety issues. 
  • Difficulty in respiration.
  • Sweating.

The reason why PCP has become a major concern is that due to its sedative effects, the drug can interact with alcohol and benzodiazepines in the central nervous system which can lead to coma. A vast majority of people who use PCP are taken to seek medical attention in an extreme case of an overdose or unpleasant psychological imbalances caused by the drug. 

Addicts with a history in PCP abuse are dangerous for other people when put in a hospital or a detention center. Their addictive nature for PCP can induce violent and suicidal traits. The reason why, they should not be left alone and must be kept separately in a calm setting. 

Is PCP addiction treatable? 

Yes and no. Yes because PCP addicts are needed to be hospitalized and receive behavioral treatment to cure their addictive urge to use PCP. No because Various studies are looking for a way to find a drug treatment that can help stop the addiction in an individual by hampering their body’s dependency on the drug. However, as of now, there is no particular treatment targeted to PCP addiction. 


PCP may have side effects similar to other drugs but the fact that it is still dangerous remains intact. It all starts with a mindset that it won’t make any difference if I try it once, from where it is not easy to realize how it turns into an addiction. What makes it even scarier is that the addiction does not have dedicated drug treatment and patients have to rely completely on the psychological ways to get it out of their system. 


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