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PCP Drug Facts
While opioid addiction seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds when we think about the drug abuse problem in America, there are also other varieties of drugs that can be highly addictive and dangerous. One of these is the hallucinogen PCP, or phencylclidine. This is a dissociative sedative drug that is sold on the street in many forms including powder, crystal, capsules liquid, or a variety of colored tablets. It can be snorted, swallowed or smoked with tobacco, marijuana and MDMA.
The History of PCP
PCP was originally developed in the 1920s, but wasn’t commonly used until the 1950s when it was administered intravenously as a surgical anesthetic. However, due to a number of undesirable and medically unsafe side effects, it fell out of favor and is now only rarely used in the medical field as a veterinary tranquilizer, and for research and testing purposes. For the most part, it is manufactured illegally in the US and sold as a cheaper alternative to other hallucinogens. Although its use has fallen in recent years, it continues to be among one of the most abused street drugs in the United States.
Short Term Effects of PCP
PCP can begin taking effect in as little as two minutes, if it is smoked. If it is swallowed, effects may take 30-60 minutes to manifest. Once they kick in, they can last anywhere between four hours to two days..
The effects of PCP may vary depending on the dose taken, but generally, it has hallucinogenic properties causing the user to experience visual and auditory distortions and changes in perception. Its dissociative effect may make a person feel detached from themselves, and others and divorced from reality in general. Some specific short-term effects from lower doses of the drug, ranging from 1 to 5mg, may include:
- Numbness and relaxation
- Slurred speech
- Loss of motor coordination
- Misperceptions of personal abilities like strength, speed and invulnerability
- Odd and unexpected behavior
Higher doses, above 5 mg, may lead to the following:
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Delusions of grandeur
- Higher blood pressure and heart rate
- Breathing problems
- Raised body temperature
- Anxiety, panic and extreme worry
Long Term Effects of PCP
Long term effects of PCP can occur when the drug is taken over an extended period of time. These effects may persist even when the drug isn’t active in the body, even up to a year after the last use of the drug. They include:
- Impaired memory
- Impaired thinking and decision-making abilities
- Speech problems
- Severe depression and suicidal thoughts
- Extreme anxiety, paranoia and isolation
- Extreme weight loss
- Experiencing flashbacks
- Continuing hallucinations and delusional thinking
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Is PCP Harmful?
Besides the list of symptoms brought on from PCP drug abuse, which can be physically and mentally harmful, it can also result in dangerous situations and harm to users and those around them. A false self of strength and invincibility can cause users to act aggressively and violently against themselves or others. They may also misinterpret a situation and react violently. Additionally, as it is prone to a bad trip like other hallucinogens, behavior can be erratic, unpredictable, and even self-destructive.
Is PCP Addictive?
PCP can be addictive due to its sedating and tranquilizing properties. Those who take the drug will begin to crave it and may even engage in dangerous and illegal behavior to obtain it. Their bodies may also get so used to the drug that they feel as if they can not function normally if it is not in their systems. Although its physically addicting properties are marginal, PCP is prone to substance abuse as much as other controlled substances. Its mentally addicting effects, coupled with its propensity to distract from its own long-term side effects, make PCP a dangerous habit.
Although PCP is an addictive and dangerous substance, there are treatment options available for those who are looking to cope with and rise above their dependence. Treatment starts with detoxification, and is typically followed up by addiction therapy. It is recommended that patients go through this part of rehab in a residential facility, where relapse is less likely. Once it is determined that a patient is ready to move on, they may want to participate in outpatient treatment to help them adjust to sober living free from PCP.
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