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).
A Schedule II drug, PCP has a high potential for abuse and can also lead to severe physical or psychological dependence. With an individual taking more and more of the drug, the risks of long-term damage gets heightened. Though the effects of PCP abuse and addiction are wide ranging, PCP users tend to respond well to addiction treatment.
A comprehensive PCP treatment includes a medically supervised detox program that helps flush out the drug from the system and manage the withdrawal symptoms. Post a successful detox, an individual undergoes intense psychotherapies to uncover any hidden mental illness behind their addiction habit and develop coping mechanisms to effectively deal with stress post their treatment completion.
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. Following are the neurotransmitters affected by PCP.
- Dopamine, which plays an important role in pleasure and reward, and is responsible for the “high” produced by addictive drugs
- Glutamate, which is important for memory and learning, perceiving pain and emotional processes
- Some types of opioid receptors
According to researchers, dissociative drugs like PCP and ketamine work by changing the activity of glutamate and dopamine.