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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.

  • Serotonin
  • 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
  • Some types of opioid receptors

According to researchers, dissociative drugs like PCP and ketamine work by changing the activity of glutamate and dopamine.

PCP abuse: 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

PCP abuse: Unpredictable and dangerous effects

Taking very high doses of PCP can lead to overdose and produce other unpredictable and dangerous effects. As medications, physical restraints and medical monitoring are needed to prevent harm, injury, and death to the patient, PCP overdose treatment should be done in a hospital setting. Following are some detrimental health consequences of taking large doses of PCP.

  • Respiratory failure
  • Fever
  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Death

PCP abuse: Long-term effects

As per the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland, following are some of the effects of long-term PCP usage.

  • Memory problems
  • Persistent psychosis (e.g., disorganized thoughts, paranoia)
  • 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

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people who repeatedly use PCP also experienced 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.

Overdosing on PCP can also result in accidental deaths 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 abuse can lead to tolerance and physical dependence on the drug. When stopped suddenly post a long-term usage, PCP users may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms including diarrhea, chills, and tremors.

PCP treatment

An illegal street drug, PCP abuse can cause one to experience hallucinations and severe agitation. A PCP overdose may result in uncontrolled movement, psychosis, altered state of consciousness, and violent behavior. PCP overdose is associated with numerous irreversible side effects that can result in damaging many areas of the brain and even be deadly to its users.

A comprehensive treatment for PCP abuse combines medically-supervised detoxification treatment that is followed by intense psychotherapies.

Post a successful PCP detox treatment at certified PCP detox centers, individuals undergo intense psychotherapies and experiential therapies. Additionally, individuals also learn effective coping mechanisms to deal with daily-life stressors without drugs post their treatment completion.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

Sovereign Health offers a wide array of individualized, evidence-based treatment services that are tailor-made to suit the patient needs. Sovereign Health’s all-female residential treatment facility located in Chandler, Arizona offers PCP treatment programs for PCP addiction.

PCP addiction treatment at Sovereign Health’s state-of-the-art treatment facility in Chandler offers evidence-based and comprehensive treatment programs for women patients with PCP addiction. In addition to offering evidence-based treatment options, patients are also provided with specialized treatment modalities including individual, group, and family therapy, neurofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and experiential therapies including yoga, meditation and expressive arts therapy.

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 state-of-the-art PCP rehab centers, near you, please call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our representative for any further assistance.

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