PCP, or phencyclidine, is an illegal and dangerous drug that gives users euphoric feelings and creates the illusion of superhuman abilities. However, it can also cause hallucinations and agitated or violent behavior. PCP users are a threat to themselves and others and are at risk of side effects such as convulsions, seizures, psychosis, discoordination, coma and overdose. What should you know about PCP use, abuse and overdose?
What Is PCP?
PCP, nicknamed “angel dust,” is an anesthetic and tranquilizer prized in the 1950s and early 1960s for its ability to induce anesthesia without causing cardiorespiratory depression or a loss of muscle tone. However, doctors discontinued its use in the mid-’60s when they realized their patients were experiencing postoperative psychosis, agitation and dysphoria – risks that minimized any potential medical benefits.
PCP comes in the form of a crystalline white powder that users can inhale or dissolve in liquid. They may also smoke or inject the drug. Like other dissociative substances, PCP’s effects are unpredictable and can vary widely among users. Once it’s in the bloodstream, PCP binds to the nervous system, where it blocks neurological impulses and pathways. When PCP antagonizes the brain’s NMDA receptors, it can cause a sense of detachment from reality.
PCP Overdose Effects
Depending on the dose and method of use, PCP can have a rapid onset that may last several hours to a day or two. At a lower dose, PCP makes people feel euphoric, energetic and disconnected from their body and surroundings. Since the drug is an anesthetic, it also has potent numbing and painkilling properties. Higher doses magnify the effects’ intensity, leading to hallucinations and erratic behavior.
The same characteristics that make PCP ideal for anesthesia at moderate doses also make it treacherous at higher recreational doses. Since nearly all PCP production is illegal, there is no set standard for purity or dosage. As a result, it’s hard for users to know how much they are taking, making angel dust use especially dangerous.
Phencyclidine Intoxication and Withdrawal
Signs of PCP intoxication include high blood pressure and body temperature, aggression, psychological stress, hallucinations and memory loss. Due to PCP’s sedative effects, combining it with depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines can cause a coma. If someone you love becomes catatonic, unconscious or unresponsive to verbal or physical attempts to wake them, call 911 immediately and tell them everything you know about what the victim took and how much.
Responding to a PCP overdose involves many of the same steps as managing an overdose of other drugs. First, the user’s breathing, circulation and body temperature must be stable. The PCP user may also require physical restraints or sedation to prevent self-inflicted harm.
Women’s-Only Drug Addiction Treatment
Since PCP is an addictive substance, long-term users may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as depression, drug cravings, chills, headaches and sweating when they try to taper off use or quit. If you or someone you know needs help for a drug addiction, Canyon Crossing is here with our accredited, women’s-only treatment program. To learn more about how we can help you address your unique needs, reach out to us today.