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PCP Abuse: A Guide to the Symptoms & Treatment Options | California Highlands

PCP, which ironically enough, once stood for “peace pill,” was initially marketed by Parke, Davis, and Company in the 1950s as an anesthetic pharmaceutical. The drug initially debuted under the name Sernyl, but it was not until 1957 that it was recommended for clinical trials on people. PCP was designed to be a surgical anesthetic but was later utilized as an animal tranquilizer by veterinarians.

PCP was widely embraced in the medical community to start. It provided adequate anesthesia without adverse effects on the lungs and heart. Unfortunately, because of the negative side effects, which included postoperative psychosis, dysphoria, and severe anxiety, the drug was discontinued by 1965. Later in 1967, the usage of the drug was restricted to “veterinary use only” and rapidly gained notoriety as an effective tranquilizer for animals.

The story goes that PCP made its entrance onto the street scene in the 1960s in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, which is a district well-known for its hippy movement. The hippy culture, to this day, boasts its love and admiration for psychedelic drugs. 

PCP can be used for mind-altering effects and is often snorted, swallowed, or smoked. Smoking the substance, however, is the most common method of ingestion, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Sales of PCP were deemed illegal in 1978 in the United States. PCP is now classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high probability for abuse, as well as someone will likely become physically or psychologically dependent. PCP can be an extremely dangerous drug when it is misused. 

What Is PCP (Phencyclidine)?

PCP, short for phencyclidine, is an illegal mind-altering drug. It comes in the form of a white powder that dissolves in most liquids. Common street names for this drug are angel dust, wack, dust, rocket fuel, and others. In certain instances, people can mix this drug with marijuana to create what is called “killer joints.” The chemical substance can cause powerful hallucinations that can distort a person’s reality. Its effects can manipulate natural perceptions such as sight, sound, and the overall environment. 

PCP Addiction and Abuse

Addiction from PCP comes from the psychological dependency people can experience. Unlike a few other drugs, PCP can have a very strong and immediate effect when taken just once. This is especially true of smoked PCP, which is the most common way people use the drug. 

A moderate dose of the substance is enough to cause tolerance levels to give way to more and more abuse to reach the initial euphoric high. Many of the psychological effects on the brain area are cause for an emergency. It’s no surprise that many people find themselves headed for the hospital to eradicate the torment. People may become hostile and violent when the drug takes its full effect. 

When PCP intake ceases, people may find themselves craving the drug. Headaches and increased appetite are also common symptoms that people feel. The addiction that comes with PCP use often produces memory loss, speech pattern problems, hard time concentrating, and overwhelming depression. 

In higher doses, the drug can actually produce seizures, coma, and even death. The person’s faculties are adversely affected, but eliminating its use seems to be impossible for the addicted mind. The similarities with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and delusions can also be manifested in the person’s mind during short-term use. In the long run, PCP addiction can destroy a user’s sense of reasoning, rational thinking, and other common yet important functions in the mind and brain. 

PCP Effects on the Brain

PCP is a powerful drug that affects various receptors in a person’s brain. These receptors are dopamine, opioid, and nicotinic receptors. As previously mentioned, PCP can alter how one perceives the world.

Because it acts on the brain’s central nervous system, it can change a person’s overall mental state (mood, behavioral patterns, and real-life interactions with the environment). The fact these hallucinations can ultimately affect a person’s reality can really seem like a dangerous threat.

Other effects that the drug has on the mind is that it can make users feel disconnected from their bodies, meaning they may feel detached from real life. Euphoria also comes into play when under the influence of PCP. This “rush” feeling is similar to being drunk. 

Auditory hallucinations are also a very serious consequence of this addictive drug. This form of hallucination is very troubling since people may begin to act on certain sounds and voices that can ultimately lead them to very real consequences. 

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How PCP Is Taken

PCP can be taken either by injecting it, smoking it or swallowing it in liquid or pill form. The effects may vary depending on how someone may tend to use it. People who take the drug by injecting it will see results within just a few minutes. Those who inhale it’s smoke with also feel immediate symptoms as little as five minutes. The high tends to peak around 15 minutes to half an hour. Mixing it in liquid form or taking a pill will ultimately see results around half an hour. 

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of PCP are generally related to psychological ones. However, as the consumption of PCP increases, it will have an effect physically. Many of these symptoms include: 

  • Fear
  • Uneasiness
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Tension
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Weight loss
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Muscle fails

These symptoms can operate negatively for quite some time, depending on the prolonged period that the person has been taking PCP. The safest way to eliminate PCP toxins from the body and ensure a full recovery (without relapse) is to seek proper medical detox. 

Detoxification

Many people fail to ever recover from drug addiction because of their failed or lack of withdrawal. The withdrawal phase is inevitable and will, ultimately, bring an issue to face. Every person who struggles with addiction of some kind will have to face this fact. Prolonged use of any power drug will have consequences on the person’s mind and body. For this reason alone, the detox process needs to be taken with proper consideration and with the right people. 

PCP addiction is a real problem that can ultimately control a person’s life if they’re not careful. The only way of combating these issues is by entering a professional facility that focuses on the person’s weakness with substance abuse. Medical detox involves preparing the proper medications that’ll help ease the withdrawal process. The symptoms become far less aggressive or may go undetected. This process is key to preventing short-term aches and pains or relapse. 

During these medical procedures, people will have a team of professionals who overlook the entire process with close attention. Aside from detox, therapy is also applied to prevent future addiction or abuse. It is important that the ongoing procedure allows people to feel safe knowing they want to fall back into similar habits that adversely affected them. 

Statistics on Illicit PCP Use

  • 6.1 million people in the United States, aged 12 or older reported lifetime use of PCP
  • PCP is most often used by high school students and young adults
  • From 2008 to 2010, there was a significant increase in PCP use from 37,266 to 53,542
  • PCP is most prevalent among African American males between the ages of 21 and 24.
  • Emergency room visits related to PCP rose a staggering 400 percent between 2005 and 2011
  • 69 percent of PCP-related ER visits were males from 24 to 35

Sources

Postsurgical psychosis: case report and review of literature.Abdullah MS1, Al-Waili NS, BabanNK, Butler GJ, Sultan L. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16751164

US Drug Enforcement Administration. PCP (Phencyclidine) What Is It?. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/pcp-phencyclidine

US Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling

MedlinePlus. (2018, May 5) Substance use – phencyclidine (PCP) . Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000797.htm

Psychemedica. What Is Phencyclidine? Retrieved from https://www.psychemedics.com/pcp/

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