PCP: Description of the Drug
- History of PCP
- What makes it addictive?
- Methods of administration
- Side Effects of the Drug
- Short-Term Effects
- Dosage and Effects
- Long-Term Effects
PCP is a dissociative drug, brought to the market during the 1950s. However, authorities banned the anesthetic pharmaceutical drug in 1965 because of its high prevalence of hallucinogenic side effects.
As a recreational drug, PCP may be ingested orally, smoked, insufflated or injected. Street names of PCP include:
- angel dust
- Embalming fluid
- Rocket fuel
- Happy Sticks
- Goon dust
- Peter Pan
- Lethal weapon
In chemical structure, PCP belongs to the arylcyclohexylamine class of drugs and a member of the dissociative anesthetic family. PCP contains addictive properties with a potential for compulsive abuse.
PCP is found sold on the street in many forms including:
- White powder
PCP tablets can be found in multiple colors and, like many illicit substances, are distributed in difficult to determine doses–frequently mixed with other intoxicating substances. The various forms can be:
- or smoked either alone or in combination with other drugs like:
History of PCP
Initially, PCP mistakenly reported having been synthesized in 1926. But in fact, they synthesis refers to PCC, a PCP intermediate. A chemist of Parke-Davis in Michigan named Victor Maddox discovered PCP while investigating analgesic agents.
Although unexpected, it was identified as potentially interesting and was submitted for pharmacological testing. The promising results of these pharmacological investigations led to the rapid development of PCP.
It was approved for use as an investigational drug under the trade name Sernyl in the 1950s as an anesthetic, but because of its long half-life and adverse side effects, such as:
It was removed from the market in 1965 and limited to veterinary use.
What makes it addictive?
Signs of PCP use can include the following
- Reduced sensitivity to pain
- Feelings of super strength
- Sense of invulnerability
Hallucinations typically accompany PCP use along with distortions to a person’s sense of time and being. The sense of a person’s self can be destroyed. Naturally, confusion abounds and logic is not present. With the loss of the self, the user may feel intense alienation, as though the world and the people in it make no sense — and feelings of depression.
People may also suffer from delusions that they are celebrities or dignitaries; they may also suddenly feel overwhelmingly scared of death.
This comes in both powder and liquid forms, but typically it is sprayed onto leafy material such as:
- ginger leaves
Methods of administration
It can be ingested through smoking. Fry is a street term for marijuana or tobacco cigarettes that are dipped in PCP and then dried.
PCP hydrochloride can be insufflated (snorted), depending upon the purity.
The free base is quite hydrophobic and may be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes (often inadvertently).
Side Effects of the Drug
Behavioral effects can vary by dosage. Low doses produce numbness in extremities and intoxication, characterized by:
- unsteady gait
- slurred speech
- bloodshot eyes
- loss of balance
Moderate doses merely produce analgesia and anesthesia.
High doses may lead to convulsions.
Psychological effects include:
- severe changes in body image
- loss of ego boundaries
- suicidal thoughts
- occasional aggressive behavior
Similar to other drugs, PCP is known for its effects to alter mood states in unpredictable occasions, causing some individuals to become detached, and others to become animated. This may induce:
- feelings of strength
- as well as a numbing effect on the mind.
The short-term effects of PCP vary depending on the particular dose taken as well as the route of administration used. As an example – when the drug is smoked – the effects will begin in as few as 2 minutes.
Swallowing the drug slows the absorption and results in the onset of effects delayed until about 30 – 60 minutes.
In either case, the effects may last for as few as 4 hours and as many as 48 hours depending on the amount used.
Dosage and Effects
A low dose of PCP between 1 and 5 mg will lead to symptoms including:
- Numbness and relaxation
- A sense of well-being and euphoria.
- Problems concentrating.
- Slurred speech.
- Loss of motor coordination.
- Misperceptions of abilities including strength, speed, and invulnerability.
- Odd, erratic, or unexpected behaviors.
A higher dose of PCP can lead to other effects including:
- Seeing things that are not present
- Hearing things that are not there
- Delusions of grandeur with inflated sense worth
- Higher blood pressure and heart rate
- Breathing problems
- Raised body temperature
- Anxiety, panic, and feeling extreme worry
Prolonged abuse of PCP, the negative effects of PCP become more apparent and troublesome. It may persist for periods even when users stop taking the drug.
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.
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