Phencyclidine, better known as PCP, is an illegal, synthetic, mind-altering drug. It is a dissociative hallucinogenic, different from class 1 hallucinogens, such as psilocybin, LSD, peyote, and DMT.
PCP is a noncompetitive NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor antagonist and glutamate receptor antagonist. It affects the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and inhibits the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It also blocks NMDA receptors, which play a role in emotions, pain sensation, learning, and memory.
The effects of PCP make it possible for the brain to disconnect from “normal” sensory experiences. The drug also stimulates specific reactions in the brain, especially when taken in large doses.
What is PCP?
Pure PCP is white crystal powder, but it tends to be mixed with contaminants that alter its color and consistency as a street drug. As a result, it goes by a variety of street names, including:
- Angel dust
- Love boat
- Peace Pill
- Rocket fuel
- Embalming fluid
PCP is taken in capsule, tablet, or powder form and smoked, taken orally, injected, or snorted. It can also be blended with marijuana and smoked in a joint. Some people call this combination whacko or whacky tobacco, supergrass, or superweed. Using PCP causes hallucinations or distortion in your perception of reality. For example, users experience unusual sounds, colors, and sights and perceive changes in their surroundings that are not occurring.
Side Effects Of PCP
PCP is a dangerous drug that triggers serious side effects, even in small amounts. Users tend to feel detached from their surroundings and experience hallucinations and changes in perception. Additionally, the use of the drug can lead to mood disorders or amnesia.
Other side effects of PCP include:
- Numbness in the extremities
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Increased sense of strength or invincibility
- Rapid, involuntary eye movement
- Exaggerated gate (taking significant steps while walking)
PCP users sometimes experience elevated adverse side effects, sometimes called a “bad trip.” Bad trips might induce paranoia, hostility, anxiety, and a feeling of impending doom. The experience tends to mimic the symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition to the psychological effects of PCP, users who take a small to moderate dose of the drug also experience physical symptoms including:
- Increase in Breathing Rate
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Elevated Pulse Rate
- Flushing and Sweating
- Shallow Breathing
Users who take a high dose of PCP can experience more severe side effects, including:
- Decreased Breathing Rate or Problems Breathing
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Decreased Heart Rate
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Blurred Vision
- Flicking of the eyes
- Dizziness and Problems with Balance
- Memory Loss
- Pain and Anxiety
- Inability to move
- Mood Swings
- Violent or Suicidal Thoughts/tendencies
How Does PCP Affect The Brain?
People using PCP, especially in high doses, tend to experience delusions and hallucinations, that can lead to potentially fatal errors in judgment. The drug affects the brain’s chemical glutamate, which regulates pain perception and response to one’s environment. Because of this, people using the medication might feel invincible, threatened, or under attack and act on their false beliefs. It would not be out of the norm for a PCP user to do something that would be unheard of for a sober person to do, such as jumping out of a window or walking in front of a moving vehicle.
Decisions are made based on false perceptions that can be fatal when combined with a reduced sense of pain and overall distortion of reality. Users who mix the drug with other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol or benzodiazepines, are at risk for coma and overdose. The effects of PCP tend to last between four and six hours. Long-term use of PCP also leads to health problems, including:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty with Speech and Learning
- Weight loss
Is PCP Addictive?
Though some hallucinogens are not believed to be addictive, as a dissociative drug, PCP is addictive. PCP addiction symptoms include psychological dependence on the drug and physical cravings. Short-term effects of PCP withdrawal can consist of increased body temperature, muscle breakdown, and seizures.
PCP Addiction Treatment
There are no FDA-approved medications or treatments for PCP addiction. Those with a PCP addiction typically undergo a medically supervised detoxification process followed by different types of supportive therapy for addiction. Detoxification, or detox, refers to the cleansing of toxins from the body. This phase typically includes symptoms, such as:
- Increased Appetite
People addicted to the drug typically receive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and other counseling to help with recovery. However, despite success in some cases, more research is needed to determine what treatment is most effective for addictions to PCP and other hallucinogens. In addition, PCP causes users to feel out of control or disconnected from their bodies and environment. This can lead to violent actions and a higher chance of putting themselves or others at risk.
We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through PCP drugs therapy and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
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