What is Phencyclidine?
Phencyclidine was developed in the 1950’s, as an intravenous anesthetic but, due to the side effects of confusion and delirium, its development for human medical use was discontinued. Ketamine, an anesthetic used in pediatric and veterinary medicine, was then developed and is structurally like PCP. PCP is listed as a Schedule II drug by the US Drug Enforcement Agency; ketamine is a Schedule III agent.
In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol and has a distinctive bitter chemical taste. On the illicit drug market, PCP contains several contaminants causing the color to range from a light to darker brown with a powdery to a gummy mass consistency. It is available in a variety of tablets, capsules, and colored powders, which are either taken orally or by insufflation (“snorted”). The liquid form of PCP is actually PCP base dissolved most often in ether, a highly flammable solvent. For smoking, PCP is typically sprayed onto leafy material such as mint, parsley, oregano, or marijuana. PCP may also be injected.
Short Term Effects of Phencyclidine Abuse
Abusing PCP can cause very dangerous effects. When abused users can begin to feel detached, distant and estranged from their surroundings. It can cause a person to experience extreme numbness, have slurred speech and loss of coordination may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. blank stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated gait are among the more observable effects. Auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders, and amnesia may also occur. In some users, PCP may cause acute anxiety and a feeling of impending doom; in others, paranoia, and violent hostility, and in some, it may produce a psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Many believe PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse.
Physiological effects of PCP include a slight increase in breathing rate and a more pronounced rise in blood pressure and pulse rate. Respiration becomes shallow, and flushing and profuse sweating.
At high doses of PCP, there is a drop-in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. Nausea may accompany this, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Psychological effects at high doses include illusions and hallucinations.
Long-Term Effects of PCP
With excessive use of PCP over an extended period of time, the negative effects of PCP become more troublesome, and may persist for periods even when the drug isn’t actively being taken.
They can begin negatively impacting the mental and physical health of the PCP user. These effects include:
- Impaired memory.
- Thinking problems and impaired decision-making abilities.
- Speech problems.
- Severe depression with suicidal thoughts.
- Higher anxiety, paranoia, and isolation.
- Extreme weight loss.
- “Flashback” phenomena.
- Continuous hallucinations and delusional thinking even when not using the substance.
These long-term effects can be quite dangerous; case studies indicate that some of these reported symptoms may persist for as long as a year following last use of PCP.
Like many drugs with sedating or tranquilizing properties, PCP can be an addictive substance. People that use PCP consistently will begin craving the drug and will likely engage in risky, dangerous, or illegal behaviors to acquire and use more of the substance.
Physiologic dependency becomes an issue with extended PCP use. When dependency develops, the user’s body has grown accustomed to the effects of the drug, and will function or will be perceived by the dependent individual to function sub-optimally without it.
If you may know someone who may be abusing PCP and become addicted, it is important to know the facts about the drug as well as signs to look for. Recognizing these signs and knowing someone may need help, it is important to call today to find help. There is help for everyone.