What is PCP?
Also known as phencyclidine, PCP is a powerful sedative drug known for its dissociative and hallucinogenic effects. The drug was first created in the 1950s and marketed as an anesthetic by Parke, Davis and Company. It was first recommended for use in human clinical trials in 1957. It was first used as a powerful surgical anesthetic.
PCP was embraced to fairly widespread critical acclaim in the medical field, particularly because it was an effective anesthesia that did not have significant negative effects upon the lungs and heart. With a little more use and research, however, it became clear that the drug-induced some fairly significant side effects including severe anxiety, post-operative psychosis, and dysphoria. It was discontinued for human use in 1965. That did nothing to stop its spread on the streets, however, where it is known as:
- angel dust
- peace pills
- rocket fuel
The DEA classifies PCP as a hallucinogen, which means that it is used to induce delusions and hallucinations. Users often enter a dissociative state. This can include interesting, vivid, and “otherworldly” visions. Most users who seek out the drug do so to achieve this kind of experience.
Unfortunately, PCP is often addictive and can lead individuals to use more and more of the drug simply to achieve their desired effect. The largest population using PCP is among young adults and adolescents ages 12 to 25.
Effects of PCP Abuse
The effects of PCP are generally dependent upon the amount of the drug ingested as well as the tolerance level of the individual in question. Short-term effects tend to include slurred speech, a feeling of detachment, a loss of coordination, a sense of invulnerability, and numbness. Note that this is true of relatively small doses. Stronger doses produce the mind-altering effects that are so popular among the drug’s abusers. These include:
- Catatonic Posturing
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Raised Temperature
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Shallow Breathing
The drug has both physical and psychological effects, in other words – and those are just the short-term effects. Long-term or chronic abuse of PCP can lead to:
- Memory Impairment
- Cognitive Function Degradation
- Speech Impairment
Additionally, long-term use of PCP can result in changes to the structure of the brain itself. That includes disorganized thought processes like amnesia, delirium, dysphoria, and paranoia. These effects can – and often do – remain even after the individual stops using the drug.
Causes of PCP Abuse
As with any drug, there are a number of factors that go into determining the cause of PCP abuse. One of the most common factors is, of course, the desire to experience a “vision”. Many individuals who abuse PCP do so because they seek out the hallucinations that come along with the higher dose. The desire to “escape” from reality, perhaps as a result of depression or anxiety, for example, is another big factor that could cause PCP abuse.
It should be noted that PCP has no accepted medical use. The legality of its use on humans was explicitly revoked in 1965. Any use of PCP is considered abuse.
Common Co-occurring Disorders with PCP Abuse
PCP abuse does not always occur on its own. Oftentimes, individuals who abuse the drug are also suffering from a secondary disorder. Known as a co-occurring disorder, this kind of disorder is one that occurs at the same time as the drug abuse and feeds into the use itself. Common co-occurring disorders with PCP abuse include:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Bipolar Disorders
- Additional Substance Abuse Disorders
Effects of Mixing PCP with Alcohol or Benzos
PCP is an incredibly effective sedative. When mixed with alcohol or benzodiazepines (also depressants), is extremely dangerous. Mixing benzos and alcohol with PCP can lead to your heart slowing down to dangerous levels as well as respiratory arrest. It can also increase your chances of experiencing a coma or overdose.
PCP Overdose Symptoms
There a wide variety of symptoms, both psychological and physical, that can indicate a PCP overdose. These include:
- Lack of Coordination
- Uncontrolled Movement
- An Altered Conscious State
- Eyes Moving Rapidly from Side-to-Side
- High Blood Pressure
- PCP Statistics
According to recent research conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as many as 6.1 million people ranging from ages 12 and up in the United States have reported lifetime PCP use. This around 2.4% of that particular demographic. The drug is most commonly used by young adults and high school students. Emergency room visits associated with PCP increased as much as 400% between the years of 2005 and 2011. In 2011, men made up the majority of emergency room visits related to PCP (69%).
PCP Abuse Among Teens
PCP is most commonly used by teens and young adults and can be more dangerous to these individuals since adolescents’’ brains are still forming and evolving. PCP abuse in youth could lead to permanent cognitive damage.
Signs & Symptoms
PCP abuse is characterized by a wide variety of signs and symptoms both mental and physical. These include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Withdrawal & Detox
Depending upon the length and amount of use, PCP abusers might face a whole host of withdrawal and detox symptoms. These include:
- Muscle Twitching
- Elevated Body Temperature
- Weight Loss
- Impaired Cognitive Function
It is important to note that PCP can have a prolonged, or delayed, detox timeline. For this reason, it is vital to reach out to an experienced and established drug rehabilitation and detoxification center to help ensure your safety.