We all know how detrimental drug addiction can be, and we all know the toll it can take on the lives of users and those around them. One of the most harmful and least discussed substances out there is Phencyclidine, also known as “PCP”.
PCP has many names including Ace, Angel Dust, Love Boat, Peace Pill, and Sherm. But behind these benign names is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs on the planet. We’ll go over what PCP is, how it is used, how to identify warning signs of PCP addiction and how to find treatment options.
What Does PCP Look Like?
Like many dangerous drugs, PCP was initially introduced by pharmaceutical companies for medical purposes. While it was introduced to the market as an anesthetic in the 50s, the severe side-effects and violent outbursts caused the government to disallow human use of the drug in 1956.
PCP is a white powder is that generally smoked. However, it is frequently dissolved in water and sprayed on plant material such as cannabis or tobacco. This often creates a “burnt plants and permanent marker” smell and is said to “take the edge off” the intense high. But with that said, PCP is also taken in a pill form, snorted and even injected.
Because PCP is no longer manufactured, users buy PCP produced in illegal laboratories. This often leads to impure product and the high probability that much of the substance is not actually PCP, which compounds the risk for users.
It is important to note that there are many derivatives of PCP in the marketplace today. Most of these also take on the appearance of a white powder, and some are even more lethal than PCP.
What Does PCP Do?
PCP is known as a “dissociative anesthetic”, which makes it a very powerful tool in painful medical procedures. Users often experience a feeling of detachment from their physical bodies, and this feeling is largely responsible for the destructive behaviors people engage in while under the influence of PCP.
PCP users often experience:
- Memory loss
- Physical distress
- Marked psychological distress
- Extreme panic or fear
- Exaggerated strength
The Side-Effects Of PCP
PCP is known to cause seizures, coma and increases users’ risk of suicide. After using PCP, users may also experience harmful flashbacks in everyday life, launching them back into a PCP-like state despite not having used the drug.
Combining PCP with alcohol and other sedatives drastically increases the risk of respiratory arrest and death to users.
What Makes PCP So Dangerous?
Other than the above-noted physiological effects, PCP’s dissociative properties coupled with its ability to give users a sense of exaggerated strength means users often do not notice the severe physical harm they cause themselves.
And due to its tendency to induce violent episodes, users may also not recognize the harm they do to others as well.
Tell-tale Signs Of PCP Addiction
PCP is a highly addictive drug, and users will often increase their regular dose to experience the euphoria and pseudo-spiritual experiences that are commonly reported with this drug.
Be on the lookout for drastic changes in sleep habits, temperament and energy levels in those you suspect of using PCP. Regular users experience dramatic memory loss, an inability to concentrate and often reject normal social and personal boundaries.
Long-term use of PCP often results in psychosis and has even been linked to schizophrenia.
PCP Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
PCP can stay in the body for up to 8 days which can lead to delayed withdrawal symptoms in addicts. Other symptoms include;
- Elevated body temperature
- muscle breakdown
Longer-term users have also reported muscle twitching, agitation, and hallucinations. In more severe cases weight loss, speech impairment and impaired cognitive function have also been reported.
Unsupervised PCP withdrawals can lead to memory loss and severe depression, lasting up to a year after detoxification takes place.
What Does PCP Addiction Treatment Look Like?
Treating PCP addiction often focuses on alleviating the physical discomfort that users experience during the detoxification process. Patients’ respiration rate, circulation and body temperature are continuously monitored as these indicate whether or not hospitalization is required.
Patients sometimes receive benzodiazepines to help treat the physical discomfort, agitation and occasional seizures that may accompany PCP withdrawals.
Find Treatment Options For PCP Addiction Today
Finding high-quality addiction treatment is critical to overcoming a PCP addiction. Patients that don’t receive proper treatment often end up relapsing and going back to their old, destructive lifestyle.
At Sunshine Behavioral Health, we operate multiple treatment facilities to fit any budget and any care level. Each facility is staffed with medical professionals who can help you overcome your addiction with cutting-edge science, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and personalized treatment plans.