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PCP (Phencyclidine) Abuse

Phencyclidine, or PCP, is a hallucinogen that alters the perception of the person ingesting it. Originally developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic, PCP was discontinued for human medical use after causing frequent serious neurotoxic side effects.

Those looking to use PCP recreationally do so to obtain its mind-altering effects. In its purest form, PCP is a white, crystalline powder that’s ingested in a variety of ways. The powder can be converted into tablets or capsules, smoked, snorted or dissolved into alcohol.  There is a bitter chemical taste associated with this substance.

Street names for PCP include:

  • Angel dust
  • Wack
  • Dust
  • Rocket Fuel
  • Love Boat
  • Peace Pill

Effects of Angel Dust

The effects of PCP vary from person to person and also depend on the dosage ingested.  Someone who takes a low dosage will generally experience feelings of euphoria, numbness, sensory distortions, detachment from one’s own body and some hallucinations.

PCP works by preventing a neurotransmitter called glutamate from attaching to its receptor. By also disrupting the typical actions of other neurotransmitters in the brain, dissociative effects can be expected. Feelings of invulnerability and floating, are what people most commonly seek when using this substance.

Risks of PCP Use

Any illegal substance that is chemically engineered carries high risks for adverse effects because of how it’s made. There’s no way of knowing how potent the substance is or what its exact chemical makeup is – users are essentially putting their wellbeing into illicit manufacturers’ hands.

Often, chemicals typically used to create PCP are substituted with others that are less expensive or found in household products. This variance and lack of consistency can create a multitude of problems for anyone who ingests these substances.

Short-term risks associated with recreational PCP use include:

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Schizophrenic-type behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

A common problem hospitals encounter is that people using PCP are brought to emergency rooms because its powerful effects have caused them bodily harm. Due to the numbness, dissociation and feelings of invincibility this drug causes, users often put themselves in dangerous situations without realizing how much damage they’ve incurred.

On some occasions, PCP use has resulted in extremely violent behavior and suicide.

There are also long-term risks associated with PCP use, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Difficulty with speech and learning
  • Personality shifts
  • Lasting hallucinogenic experiences

PCP is also addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, repeated abuse of PCP can lead to dependence and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Signs of Angel Dust Use

Like many hallucinogens, teens and young adults typically PCP in group settings like parties, concerts or music festivals. PCP can be applied to other more common drugs like tobacco or marijuana and smoked, making it seem less serious than it is.

Some of the common signs of PCP use are:

  • Flushing or profuse sweating
  • Eyelid flickering
  • Distorted thinking
  • Detachment from reality
  • Out-of-character behavior
  • Lack of motivation to do things they normally enjoy
  • Disruption to daily functioning without apparent reason

What to do if You Think Your Child is Using PCP

PCP is a highly dangerous drug with serious consequences. If you believe your child may be experimenting with it, the time to speak up is now. The counselors at Sandstone Care can help you come up with a plan to approach your child and get them into treatment so they can get back to living a healthy life – call us at (888) 850-1890 to learn more.

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