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Drug Information About PCP (Phencyclidine)
Street names: Angel Dust, Hog, Sherms, Embalming fluid, Wack, Rocket Fuel
Marijuana with PCP: Supergrass, Killer Joints, Killer Weed, a “dipper”
Classification: PCP is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act, available only with a written prescription and for sale only by those with a DEA license.
General Drug Information
PCP is a dissociative psychedelic drug known for causing strange and sometimes violent behavior in users. It was originally developed as a surgical anesthetic during the 1950’s, but it’s intense psychological side effects of delirium and trance-like states of dissociation from ones body derailed its development for use on humans. It was marketed as a human anesthetic for two years under the brand name “Sernyl” but was withdrawn due to hallucinations experienced by patients.
Pure PCP is a white, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Street forms of PCP may range from tan to brown in color due to contaminants left over from poor manufacturing, and may exist in anything from powder to gummy wad. Powder can be snorted or placed into capsules or tablets and swallowed. PCP is dissolved in water, alcohol, or the solvent ether and injected or sprayed onto leafy material and smoked (tobacco, marijuana, mint, oregano). Since PCP is easy to dye or dissolve into water, many users unknowingly ingest PCP thinking it is another drug or not realizing it has been mixed with or applied to the drug they are ingesting (marijuana, ecstasy, etc).
Side Effects and Dangers
At low to moderate doses, PCP can cause physical and mental stimulation, sociability, loss of inhibitions, and confidence. Physically, users will have increased heart rate and blood pressure, appearing flushed and sweating profusely. Their breathing rate will increase while breaths become shallower. Users may experience dissociation from their body or reality causing confusion and disorientation. Higher doses will lead to ever more unpredictable effects and behavior. Users may experience feelings of invulnerability and a sense of strength while losing motor coordination and slurring speech. Increased salivation and an exaggerated gait are the most observable effects, along with a blank stare and rapid or involuntary eye movements. In some individuals, PCP causes anxiety and paranoia, in others it causes bizarre and violent behavior, and still in others it can produce psychosis mirroring paranoid schizophrenia.
In high doses and overdose cases, PCP causes a drop is heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Accompanying side effects include nausea and vomiting, drooling, loss of balance, flicking up and down of the eyes, seizure, and coma. The user may experience overwhelming illusions and hallucinations, completely detaching them from reality and creating a large danger of accidental injury or death during PCP intoxication. Many cases of people brought to the emergency room due to PCP use pertained to the negative side effects, delusions, and hallucinations they were experiencing. These were frequently exacerbated by the hospital setting, which made patients suicidal and dangerous. The risk of overdose increases if PCP is combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, risking coma and life-threatening conditions.
PCP is psychologically addictive and often leads to compulsive, drug-seeking behavior. It has not been shown to be physically addictive or to cause withdrawal symptoms, though it does cause unpleasant psychological discontinuation symptoms such as intense cravings for the drug. Those that use PCP chronically or for long-periods of time report liver problems, severe memory loss, problems with speech like stuttering or slurred words, problems thinking or articulating ideas, and problems learning and remembering concepts.
Heavy use has also been associated with psychotic episodes similar to schizophrenia, anxiety or panic attacks, social withdrawal and isolation, and depression. PCP can disrupt normal hormones related to growth and development in adolescents.