Phencyclidine, commonly referred to as PCP, is a dissociative drug with dangerous mind-altering and hallucinogenic effects. Although popular in the 1980’s, since 2012 PCP has gained a resurgence in popularity. The effects of PCP on the brain and body can cause potentially lethal immediate effect and long-term health complications. PCP was first used in the 1950’s as an intravenous anesthetic, but became popular as a recreational drug for its strong dissociative and mind-altering effects. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens over the age of 12 have reported using PCP at least once, with 225,000 between the ages of twelve and seventeen. Acute effects of PCP intoxication can include, but are not limited to, disorientation, dissociation, nausea, hallucinations, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. In higher doses, these effects can lead to unsafe changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature, as well as symptoms psychological distress, including “feelings of extreme panic, fear, anxiety, paranoia, invulnerability, exaggerated strength, and aggression.” According to the National Institute of Health, “PCP’s most unusual feature is that doses of 5 to 10 mg orally may induce acute schizophrenia, including agitation, psychosis, audiovisual hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and catatonia. Doses greater than 10 mg usually result in coma.” Research into PCP has found that it is possible to develop dangerous health complications and addiction from long-term use. The NIH explains, “PCP can lead to tolerance and the development of a substance use disorder that includes a withdrawal syndrome (including craving for the drug, headaches, and sweating) when drug use is stopped. Other effects of long-term PCP use include persistent speech difficulties, memory loss, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and social withdrawal that may persist for a year or more after chronic use stops.” Recovery from long-term symptoms is possible after complete cessation from PCP use. Like marijuana, PCP stores in the fatty tissue of the body, and it may take longer for the body to be completely detoxified from the drug. However, with effective treatment, long-term symptoms usually resolve within about one year of sobriety.
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