PCP Addiction: Effects, Dangers & Treatment

PCP is a powerful, mind-altering illicit drug. In 2021, an estimated 183,000 Americans aged 12 and older used PCP. This number is relatively low compared to other drugs in its class, including the 2.4 million people who said they used LSD and 2.2 million people who used ecstasy that same year.1

But despite its rarity on a national level, PCP is still widespread in certain parts of the country, and for people who do use it, the drug can seriously affect their health and well-being.2

Read on to learn more about the effects and risks of PCP use, PCP addiction, and treatment options at Oxford Treatment Center in Mississippi.

What Is PCP?

PCP is an abbreviation for phencyclidine, which was introduced in the 1950s as a surgical anesthetic and later discontinued due to its adverse, hallucinogenic effects.3

PCP falls under the classification of hallucinogens but is more specifically considered a dissociative drug because it can cause feelings of detachment from reality. People who use dissociative drugs like PCP report a feeling of floating, as if they are disconnected from their bodies.4,5

PCP is most commonly found in liquid or powder form but is also encountered in crystals, capsules, and tablets. The drug is typically mixed with leafy material like mint, parsley, oregano, or tobacco and smoked, but, depending on its form, it can also be swallowed, injected, or snorted.3

Marijuana joints or cigarettes dipped in liquid PCP are called “dippers” and sometimes referred to as Killer Joints, Super Grass, or Wets.3

Other common street names for PCP include:3

  • Angel Dust.
  • Embalming Fluid.
  • Ozone.
  • Rocket Fuel.
  • Shermans.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists PCP as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, indicating its high potential for misuse and dependence.3,6

Effects of PCP

PCP use can lead to a range of adverse health effects. These effects may differ depending on individual factors like age, sex, personality, and mindset, as well as the dose, potency, route of administration, and environment or setting in which the drug is taken.5,7

Some possible, short-term effects of PCP include:4,6

  • Delusions and hallucinations (short-term episodes of psychosis).
  • Paranoia.
  • Problems thinking.
  • Feeling disconnected from one’s body and environment.
  • Anxiety.

However, the effects of PCP can vary greatly depending on the amount taken.

In small doses, the effects of PCP may also include:4

  • Rapid and/or shallow breathing.
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Face redness.
  • Sweating.
  • Numbness of the hands and feet.
  • Difficulty with movement.

At high doses, using PCP may cause more severe effects, such as:4

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid eye movement up and down.
  • Drooling.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Dizziness.
  • Violent or aggressive behavior.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Dangers of PCP Use

PCP is notorious for its tendency to trigger wild and extreme behavior in the people who use it. This behavior is associated with an increased risk of injury and self-harm, because of the drug’s anesthetic and mind-altering properties.2,4,5

In other words, people may feel no pain while they are under the influence of PCP, which can spark erratic and sometimes dangerous behavior.

PCP can also cause psychosis, where a person experiences hallucinations and delusions and has a hard time distinguishing what is real or not. These episodes may last for days to weeks.

Some studies in animals have found that chronic use of PCP may cause brain changes similar to those seen in people with schizophrenia.5

Other possible long-term effects of PCP use may include:4

  • Memory loss.
  • Speech and thinking problems.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Anxiety.

PCP use carries other risks as well, including the risk of addiction and overdose.7,8

PCP Overdose Symptoms

It is possible to take too much PCP and overdose, also called PCP toxicity. The signs and symptoms of a PCP overdose are similar to the effects of acute PCP intoxication, including:7,9

  • Confusion.
  • Severe agitation.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Hallucinations and delusions.
  • Dangerously elevated body temperature (hyperthermia).
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

An overdose is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is overdosing, call 911 immediately.

Many PCP-related emergency room visits involve other substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, or alcohol. Polysubstance use, including mixing PCP with other drugs or alcohol, can increase the severity of adverse effects and risk of overdose.7,10

Additionally, hallucinogens like PCP may also be contaminated with dangerous substances like fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Just 2 mg of fentanyl—about the size of a few grains of salt—is considered a lethal dose and can lead to a fatal overdose.5,11,12

Is PCP Addictive?

Yes, PCP can be addictive. Regular or repeated use of PCP may cause dependence, cravings, and compulsive drug-seeking behavior in some people.13

The clinical term for a PCP addiction is a phencyclidine use disorder.8

Signs of PCP Addiction

PCP addiction is characterized by continued drug use despite the negative consequences.8

To diagnose a PCP addiction, medical professionals use a specific set of criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).

Can You Experience Withdrawal From PCP?

The research on withdrawal from PCP is mixed. But although sources like the DSM-5 do not officially recognize a withdrawal syndrome associated with PCP, about 25% of people who use the drug report withdrawal symptoms.8,14

Reported symptoms of PCP withdrawal include:4,14

  • Headaches.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Excessive sleepiness.
  • Abnormal sweating.
  • Tremors.
  • Increased appetite.

Learn more about how long PCP stays in the system here.

PCP Addiction Treatment in Mississippi

If you or someone you care about is struggling with PCP addiction, help is available at Oxford Treatment Center. We are an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi offering different levels of addiction treatment and personalized care designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

Treating PCP addiction follows the same treatment path as other types of substance use disorders, which often includes a combination of:15,16

  • Behavioral therapy.
  • Mutual support groups.
  • Psychoeducation.

PCP rehab rarely involves medical detox, and there are currently no medications approved to treat PCP addiction.4,17

You might be wondering whether your health insurance covers rehab or how to pay for addiction treatment in other ways. Our team of admissions navigators is available around the clock to answer these questions, discuss the rehab admissions process, and more.

You can also verify your insurance coverage using this quick and confidential .

You are not alone. Call us at today for more information and to find the treatment option that is right for you.

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