PCP, or phencyclidine, is a type of synthetic dissociative drug that causes distortions in a person’s sensory perceptions (e.g., sight, sound, touch, sense of time), consciousness, memory and motor activity, and produces feelings of detachment from one’s body and the surrounding environment. Also referred to as “angel dust,” PCP is a white to brown crystalline powder or clear liquid that can be smoked, insufflated, injected intravenously and ingested orally. It can also be contained in eye drops or skin patches (i.e., transdermal absorption).

In The Body And Brain

PCP is a selective N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist that inhibits the reuptake of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain by blocking NIMDA receptors. The neurotransmitters affected by PCP include:

  • Dopamine, which plays an important role in pleasure and reward, and is responsible for the “high” produced by addictive drugs
  • Norepinephrine
  • Glutamate, which is important for memory and learning, perceiving pain and emotional processes
  • Serotonin
  • Some types of opioid receptors

Researchers believe that dissociative drugs like PCP and ketamine work by changing the activity of glutamate and dopamine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Short-term Effects

PCP is a dissociative anesthetic that has highly variable effects. It can make people feel disconnected from reality (dissociation) and decrease or eliminate pain (analgesia). Depending on the person, the dose and the method of administration (e.g., smoking, injecting), PCP can also act as a stimulant, a depressant and have hallucinogenic effects.

However, unlike hallucinogens, PCP causes changes in body image rather than visual hallucinations. PCP produces a range of physical and psychological effects, many of which are dose-dependent, with higher doses associated with more dangerous effects. The physical and psychological effects of PCP addiction include:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Sensory distortions
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Numbness
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Psychosis
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Analgesia (reduced pain)
  • Grandiose delusions
  • Bizarre or hostile behavior
  • Fever
  • Excessive salivation
  • Aggression
  • Panic or overwhelming fear
  • Poor concentration or thinking
  • Difficulty with speech (e.g., unable to speak)
  • Problems with motor skills
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Alternating between abnormally low or high blood pressure
  • Constricted pupils and vision problems
  • Dysregulation of body temperature

Taking very high doses of PCP can lead to overdose and produce other unpredictable and dangerous effects. PCP overdose treatment should be done in a hospital setting, as medications, physical restraints and medical monitoring are needed to prevent harm, injury and death to the patient. Some detrimental health consequences that result in people who take large doses of PCP include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Fever
  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Death
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Long-term Effects Of PCP Abuse

PCP abuse can lead to tolerance and physical dependence on the drug. When users stop taking PCP, withdrawal symptoms can occur, such as diarrhea, chills and tremors. The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland reported that some of the effects of long-term PCP use include:

  • Memory problems
  • Persistent psychosis (e.g., disorganized thoughts, paranoia, changes in mood, continued visual disturbances)
  • Flashbacks (a condition known as hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder or HPPD)
  • Language difficulties – problems with articulation and speech, such as stuttering
  • Prolonged severe anxiety
  • Respiratory distress
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of suicide attempts
  • Toxic psychosis
  • Social isolation/withdrawal

The NIDA reported that people who repeatedly use PCP can also experience weight loss, problems with motor skills, difficulty learning and thinking clearly, speech difficulties, memory problems, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts for up to a year or longer after the person stops taking the drug.

Accidental deaths can occur when people overdose on PCP due to the psychological effects (e.g., delusions, violent episodes, self-harm) caused by the drug. For example, a person might have delusions that he or she can fly and jump from a 10-story building.

PCP Treatment At Sovereign Health Of Arizona

Sovereign Health of Arizona’s all-female residential treatment facility located in Chandler offers PCP treatment programs to women who have PCP addiction. PCP addiction treatment at Sovereign Health of Chandler offers individually tailored and comprehensive treatment programs for women who have PCP addiction.

PCP addiction treatment helps women overcome their substance use disorder so they can overcome PCP drug addiction and be successful in their recovery and life. For more information about PCP rehab centers at Sovereign Health, call our 24/7 helpline.

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