Phencyclidine, known as PCP for short, is a white powder which dissolves easily to form a colorless, yellow or brown solution, though dyes are sometimes added to make the drug more colorful. While PCP was originally developed as a general anesthetic for use in human surgery, and then later used as a tranquilizer by vets, concerns were raised about the drug’s psychological effects, which brought its use to an end. However, as phencyclidine is a dissociative drug, helping users to feel detached, this has made the medication popular for abuse. Snorting or smoking PCP offers an almost immediate high, with effects felt in as little as two minutes, with PCP pills taking as long as an hour to take effect. It is rare for PCP users to inject the drug, but this is another way to experience the instant hit phencyclidine offers. Owing to the adverse effects of this dissociative anesthetic, phencyclidine users can also experience some unpleasant effects from its use in both the short and long-term.
Although phencyclidine affects everyone differently, it is typical on taking PCP to experience a feeling of knowing where you are, but not feeling part of your environment. Users also experience euphoric feelings and feel more relaxed, which can be achieved at a low dose and last a considerable time, as PCP stays in your body for a significant length of time, possibly taking as long as 50 hours for the amount left to halve in quantity. Phencyclidine can alternatively act as a stimulant, making you feel more alert, and additionally has the ability to numb pain. Even a low dosage though can cause hallucinations, which differ from those of LSD as rather than experiencing visual disturbances, you are more likely to experiences changes in how your own body feels.
The diverse effects PCP has can be explained by the fact that it influences various chemical messengers in your brain. As the University of Washington points out, PCP increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, while it inhibits glutamate’s action and impacts on some classes of opioid receptor too. A surge in dopamine and serotonin is responsible for the high and these can also aid relaxation as well, while blocking glutamate can inhibit your nervous system, and activating opioid receptors can relieve pain.
As other than research purposes PCP is produced illegally, you can’t be sure the amount you are taking and what else it might be mixed with, which makes it particularly dangerous. There are also instances where people are mis-sold phencyclidine, believing they are buying another drug such as meth, ecstasy and LSD. Equally, some joints are dipped in PCP to enhance the high, but this can lead to unpleasant symptoms for anyone unaware of the dangers of PCP.
PCP Side Effects
You are less likely to experience disturbing symptoms with doses of PCP under 5mg, but these are often intense if you exceed 10mg. It is not just the dose that can affect the symptoms you get from using phencyclidine though, as your personality, expectations, previous drug use, along with where you take the drug and who you are with can also influence the way you will react to it. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, the most common unwanted psychological and emotional PCP drug effects include:
- Difficulty with concentration and thought
- Anxiety and agitation
- Paranoid thinking
- Depressed mood
- Feeling confused and disorientated
- Obsessing over trivial things
- Delusions of grandeur
- Unusual or hostile behavior
- Feelings of fear, panic and terror
Phencyclidine can also adversely affect your body, so you may experience blurred vision, dizziness, difficulty with movement, speech problems, an irregular pulse, depressed breathing, nausea, vomiting, a high temperature that alternates with chills, and reduced consciousness. With particularly high doses, an overdose may lead to a coma, seizures and even death. PCP use may also prove fatal if you drive under its influence, take other risks due to increased confidence while high or are driven to suicide by its emotional impact.
When it comes to the long-term side effects of phencyclidine, chronic users may go on a PCP binge, termed a run, where they take the drug repeatedly for two or three days without having anything to eat or getting any sleep, which is typically followed by a period of extended sleep. Flashbacks similar to those reported by LSD users are also common. Additionally, chronic problems with low mood and anxiety can set in, as can toxic psychosis where you become hostile, aggressive and paranoid. Some heavy users may develop persistent speech difficulties, which may contribute to the social isolation that is often a problem with chronic PCP use. Getting help with PCP abuse is the only way to avoid the long-term problems associated with its use.
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