pcp addiction treatment

Not many of the other street drugs have as powerful nicknames as PCP. Addicts know it as “Angel Dust”, “Animal Tank”, “Embalming Fluid”, “Rocket Fuel” to name a few. PCP’s chemical name is phencyclidine. The infamous hallucinogenic is categorized as a dissociative drug because using the drug can lead to a distortion of one’s senses, such as our sights and sounds. As a result, PCP addiction can create an illusion of supreme strength and enhanced sexual abilities.  

The drug itself is not fatal. But quite often, PCP addiction will cause users to perform reckless activities that will end up in the emergency room or in the graveyard. The number of PCP-related emergency department visits has soared more than 400% between 2005 and 2011. PCP is similar to other hallucinogens, such as MDMA (also known as Ecstacy) and LSD, but what singles out PCP is the drug’s ability to make users hostile, some even become violent.

Let’s take a look at phencyclidine abuse and how it continues to affect thousands of people every single year. How does phencyclidine use disorder develop? Most notably, we’ll be taking a look at the signs and symptoms of PCP addiction. Is PCP addictive? In addition, this article will uncover symptoms and effects that people should look out for if suspecting someone of PCP addiction.

A History of PCP

Phencyclidine was first created in a laboratory in 1926. In 1952, the pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis patented the drug under the name Sernyl. Such a marketing tactic aimed to associate the drug with serenity. At low doses, Sernyl created a calming effect. But at high doses, the drug-induced cataplexy. 

Cataplexy is a medical condition when strong emotion causes a sudden physical collapse. Phencyclidine abuse may result in uncontrollable laughter or crying, which could suddenly devolve into muscles in the body going limp. 

At first, Sernyl was widely embraced, as a result of its ability to provide effective anesthesia without negative effects to certain body organs. Sernyl was marketed as a non-narcotic anesthetic. A non-narcotic anesthetic is appealing because there are many compelling reasons to avoid opioids during surgery. Opioids during surgery could cause respiratory depression as well as increased sedation. 

About fifteen years on the market was long enough for Sernyl to become discontinued. The drug caused patients to become irrational and delusional. By 1967, the only clinical use of the drug was as a tranquilizer for animals. 

PCP As a Recreational Drug

The first recorded episodes of PCP being used as a recreational drug were in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, in 1967. This was also the time and place of the hippie movement. Hippies embraced new forms of psychedelics. 

This might cause some people to scratch their heads in disbelief. How could a dissociative anesthetic, known for causing aggression and violence become a drug of choice with the hippies, a movement created to spread peace and love? Addiction seldom follows rules and order.

PCP became illegal in 1978. Today, the drug is considered a Schedule II substance. Such drugs have a very high probability of abuse. In addition, consumption of Schedule II substances is very likely to lead to physical or psychological dependence.  

The Popularity of PCP

According to a US Department of Justice report, “PCP abuse subsequently waned throughout the 1970s until the early 1980s, when abuse rose again…. It is believed that the widespread abuse and availability of crack cocaine in the late 1980s and early 1990s reduced the demand for PCP.” 

The resurgence of PCP popularity in the 1980s was largely among teenagers and in large metropolitan areas, such as Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and New York City. According to the DEA, the price of a tab of PCP can range from $5 to $15, a powdered gram could cost $20 to $30 and a liquid ounce will be $200 to $300. PCP can be manufactured cheaply in garage laboratories. Such details make PCP a profitable drug for dealers.

How Does Phencyclidine Affect the Body?

All drugs are harmful to the body to some degree. PCP addiction is particularly damaging. The drug causes psychological addiction as well as physical addiction. When a user becomes psychologically addicted to a substance, then their mind becomes dependent on the substance. In addition, the body becomes tolerant to PCP, meaning it requires more and more of the same substance to achieve the initial intoxication. In addition, using PCP for a long time will cause irreversible cognitive damage, such as memory loss, slurring words, and a failure to think clearly.

Low doses of phencyclidine abuse will cause the body to become numb and a total loss of coordination. High doses of phencyclidine abuse could cause someone to become paranoid and distrust others. In addition, a user of high doses of PCP could start hearing voices that are in one’s head. Violence and aggression are usually the results of such symptoms.

PCP addiction will cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure. PCP contains pain-killing properties. As a result, if a PCP user sustains a serious injury, they may not realize it until the injury becomes life-threatening. Very large doses of PCP could cause kidney failure, heart arrhythmia, seizures, and even death. PCP can be extremely unpredictable and dangerous at times.

Is PCP Addictive?

pexels-cottonbro-4101188-1024x682Drugs are considered addictive based on how the chemicals of the drug impact the brain’s composition. Depending on several factors, a drug is considered more addictive than another. For example, how quick it takes to feel the effects of the drug, as well as how potent the feelings can become are factors that determine a substance’s addictiveness. Like any drug, PCP effects can be felt judging on the mode of consumption:

  • Injecting PCP will allow a user to feel the effects within a few minutes 
  • Smoking PCP will produce similar lightning-fast speeds of inebriation. 
  • Swallowing a PCP pill will take a bit longer, say half an hour.

PCP has recently made a comeback in popularity. Many of the new PCP users are teenagers. They will soak their cigarettes in a liquid form of PCP. Early exposure to such potent mind-altering substances, such as PCP, is exceptionally damaging. Young people who experiment with PCP have a greater risk of developing psychosis later in life. Not to mention the risk of addiction and other problems down the line. 

Signs that Someone is on PCP 

Now that we know the details of a phencyclidine use disorder, how can one observe the traits of PCP addiction? For starters, if you or someone in your life has a phencyclidine use disorder, it could be difficult to determine whether or not professional treatment is needed. The following signs should indicate PCP addiction.

Behavioral signs

  • Devoting a lot of time to either attaining, using, or recovering from PCP.
  • Trying and then failing to stop using PCP.
  • Violent and aggressive behavioral changes.

Physical signs

  • High blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness in limbs

Mental signs

  • Amnesia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to focus

Psycho-social symptoms

  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Violence
  • Rage

Addiction Treatment for Phencyclidine Use Disorder

It is necessary to get addiction treatment if you or a loved one is suffering from phencyclidine use disorder. At North Jersey Recovery Center we offer several options for addiction treatment. PCP addiction treatment may include:

With the help of our professional team, sobriety and a better life are achievable. At the end of the day, it’s about reaching out for help and turning things around for the better. If you live in the North Jersey area and need professional care, NJRC is here for you. 

Pick up the Phone and Contact a Treatment Facility Today!

Phencyclidine use disorder can quickly control someone’s life. This is because the drug is both physically and psychologically addictive, phencyclidine abuse can become overwhelmingly damaging. After discovering PCP addiction, whether in yourself or someone that you know, the first thing you have to do is contact a treatment facility experienced in treating PCP addiction.

Not all drug rehabilitation facilities are experienced in treating hallucinogen addiction. At North Jersey Recovery Center, those suffering from PCP addiction are treated accordingly. First, such patients enter the detoxification stage. North Jersey Recovery Center’s detox system is safe from any potentially dangerous hallucinogenic withdrawal symptoms. 

Then, a clinical professional will assess the severity of the patient’s addiction and determine how long their inpatient stay should be. The duration can range from thirty days up until three months. Outpatient treatment follows the inpatient stay. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to contact us today! 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.