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What is PCP?


PCP is considered dangerous and highly addictive. In the US, you can go to prison for making, distributing, possessing, or using it. Use of PCP is linked to violence, aggression, and psychosis.

The National Drug Commission has classified it as a schedule II hallucinogenic drug, meaning that it is substance that alters sensory perception, mood, and though, and which has a high potential for abuse and physical dependence. Hospitalization is often necessary during the withdrawal process.

What is PCP?

PCP, or phencyclidine, is a psychedelic drug that results in hallucinations and produces a feeling of detachment from one’s surroundings.

PCP is sold on the street as:

  • Angel dust
  • Hog
  • Ozone
  • Wack
  • The Peace Pill
  • Rocket fuel
  • Super grass
  • Embalming fluid
  • Elephant tranquilizer
  • Cliff hanger
  • Happy sticks
  • Trank
  • Kools
  • DOA

How PCP is Used

PCP is a white crystalline, bitter-tasting powder. It can be easily dissolved in water or alcohol. Ingesting PCP mixed with alcohol or prescription tranquilizers is extremely dangerous and can lead to coma. Users can smoke, snort, swallow, or inject PCP. It mixes easily with dyes, so it can appear in variety of colors in powder, tablet, and capsule form. Leafy plants are often sprayed with the chemical, or a rolled joint is dipped into a PCP solution then smoked. Sometimes, users are unaware that their joint has been laced with PCP. Effects are felt within minutes of smoking it, or within 2 hours of ingesting it.

This drug affects neurotransmitter systems in the brain, interfering with the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The result is inhibited feelings of pain, emotions, and repressed memory, effectively allowing the brain to disconnect from “reality”, or normal sensory experiences. The chemical structure of PCP is close to that of melatonin and serotonin, which allows the drug to bind to, and activate, the brain receptors for those chemicals, resulting in an altered state of mind.

Short-term effects of PCP include:

  • Euphoria
  • Sense of calm
  • Sound, image, and body distortion
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Loss of sensation, or feeling of numbness in limbs
  • Rigid muscles
  • Chills and sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or mood wings
  • Elevated energy
  • Rush of excitement
  • Superficial feeling of power

A low dose of PCP will result in high blood pressure and heart rate, while a large dose will reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. High dosage also leads to seizures, respiratory failure, coma, stoke, and possible death.

Long-term use of PCP results in:

  • Delusions
  • Memory loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Social isolation
  • Anxiety and depressions
  • Flashbacks
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis, similar to that experienced in schizophrenia.

These symptoms can last for up to a year, or sometimes even longer, after a person has stopped using PCP.

Symptoms that other people will notice in someone who is on PCP include:

  • Poor coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes and rapid, involuntary eye movements or a blank stare
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooling
  • Confusion, blank stare
  • Lack of movement
  • Aggression
  • Bizarre behavior

PCP trips are most often reported as negative, nightmare-like hallucinations. Generally, users describe an overall unpleasant experience. The cognitive effects of the drug can lead to psychosis or mania. PCP is not very popular with illicit drug users because of the bad reactions, however some users like the feelings of superhuman strength, power, and invulnerability, while others enjoy the overall numbing effect of the drug.

The Dangers

Because PCP is made illegally, in uncontrolled conditions, nobody really knows how much is being taken with each hit and therefore what the effect will be. This makes PCP a particularly dangerous drug.

Discontinuing the use of PCP will result in withdrawal symptoms including craving, confusion, and depression. It is distressing and painful, both physically and emotionally. Seeking recovery from PCP requires medical supervision and possibly hospitalization. Users can be dangerous to themselves and others, so it is extremely important to seek the proper help. Getting treatment from a drug rehab center or an addiction professional is highly recommended for safety and success.

Related: Decoding Drug Slang