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
- Glutamate, which is important for memory and learning, perceiving pain and emotional processes
- 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).