PCP was originally developed as an intravenous anesthetic. Use of PCP in humans was discontinued in 1965 because it was found that patients became agitated, delusional, and irrational while recovering from its effects. PCP is now illegally produced in clandestine laboratories and is sold on the street as angel dust, ozone, wack, and rocket fuel.
PCP is a white, soluble, crystalline powder with a bitter chemical taste. It can be mixed with dyes and may turn up in the illicit drug market as tablets, capsules, or colored powders. PCP may be snorted, smoked, or eaten. For smoking purposes, PCP may be applied to mint, parsley, oregano, or marijuana. PCP combined with marijuana is called killer joint or crystal supergrass.
PCP is addictive; its use often leads to psychological dependence, craving, and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior. Users cite feelings of strength, power, invulnerability, and a numbing effect on the mind. At low to moderate doses, physiological effects include a slight increase in respiration and a more pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Respiration becomes shallow, flushing and profuse sweating occur, and generalized numbness of the extremities and lack of muscle coordination also may occur. Psychological effects include distinct changes in body awareness similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication. PCP use by adolescents may interfere with hormones related to normal growth and development and the learning process. At high doses, there is a drop in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. High doses can also cause seizure, coma, and sometimes death. Long-term abusers may suffer memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, depression, and weight loss. PCP has sedative effects and, when mixed with alcohol or central nervous system depressants, may lead to coma.
PCP, or phencyclidine, is a dangerous drug that was originally developed as an anesthetic. Its use was discontinued in humans in 1965 because of the troubling side effects. It is now illegal in the United States.
How It’s Used:
In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder. It dissolves quickly in liquids but has a distinctive, bitter chemical taste. Most PCP sold in the United States comes as a white or colored powder or liquid and is added to leafy substances (such as oregano, mint, or marijuana) and smoked. PCP also can be sold in pill, tablet, or capsule form to be swallowed. In some cases, PCP users snort the drug or mix it with a liquid and inject it with a syringe.
What It Does:
PCP affects the user’s memory, ability to process emotion, and learning ability. At lower doses, the effects of PCP can be similar to alcohol intoxication.
PCP can make users feel detached from their bodies and their surroundings. It can also distort a user’s perceptions of sight, sound, and reality — the drug is known for giving users a false sense of strength, power, and invincibility.
Higher doses of PCP can cause hallucinations and symptoms similar to the effects of mental illnesses like schizophrenia. These include anxiety, delusions, paranoia, trouble forming coherent thoughts, suicidal thoughts, and bizarre behavior. PCP users can get violent.
Depending on the dose and way the PCP was taken (injected, smoked, or swallowed), the drug’s effects can be felt in 2–5 minutes and last anywhere from 6–24 hours.
PCP can also cause these physical side effects:
- body numbness
- slurred or garbled speech
- loss of muscle coordination and balance
- profuse sweating
- rapid, involuntary eye movements or a blank stare
- nausea and vomiting
PCP is addictive. Long-term use can lead to mental and physical cravings for the drug and compulsive behavior to get and take it. Because the drug is so addictive, users keep taking it even when they know the health problems PCP causes.
Some PCP users suffer frequent hallucination flashbacks and other mental disorders over a long period of time.