Phencylidine (PCP) Abuse and Addiction

Effects of PCP

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a jack of all trades. Depending on who takes it, it can act as a stimulant, a depressant, an anaesthetic and a hallucinogen. Unlucky users find it can act as all four rolled into one sending their minds and bodies on a terrifying roller coaster ride.

On the street it's commonly known as angel dust, killer weed, peace pill or rocket fuel (amongst many other things). Users normally choose name that reflects the particular effects the drug has on them.

PCP was first developed back in the 1950s as an anaesthetic. But its medical use was stopped after a decade because some people suffered severe hallucinations as a direct result of it. By that time PCP had started to slowly trickle onto the streets, created in illicit laboratories and marketed by drug dealers as both a stimulant and relaxant. But its reported side effects have meant it fails to rank among the world's most popular street drugs. Because it's not controlled, users have no idea how much they are taking or whether the drug they've been sold is in fact PCP.

PCP up close...

One former user described his bad experience of the drug this way: "Once used, never again. I felt out of control and terrified. I kept on seeing people jumping about around me, screaming at me. I felt sick for days."

In its original state PCP is a white powder that is soluble in water and alcohol. It has a distinctive bitter chemical taste. It can be sniffed, swallowed, injected or smoked ­cigarettes or joints can be dipped in PCP, commonly known as "smoking wet".

As with any drug the effects depend on how much is taken and how it's taken. If it's injected or smoked a user can feel the effects within five minutes. A small or moderate amount can act as a stimulant, speeding up the heart rate and giving a person a sense of power and strength. It can also bring on feelings of euphoria and relaxation. The flip side of the coin is that even small amounts can cause anxiety, confusion, numbness of the limbs and lack of co-ordination.

Slightly more taken can bring on confusion, drooling, no reaction to pain, dizziness and schizophrenic type behaviour. ­ it is common to identify a user by the blank stare and uncontrolled eye movements. It can also cause a person to act violently.

And in high doses it can cause dillusions, severe paranoia, hallucinations, fits and coma ­ PCP is a sedative and mixed with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or tranquillisers can cause coma.

PCP can also lead to death but in the majority of cases this is usually caused by accidental injury or suicide while on the drug, although there have been reported cases due to repeated convulsions, heart and lung failure and stroke.

People who use PCP in small doses often suffer from memory loss, depression and weight loss.

PCP is addictive and withdrawing from it can cause the same symptoms as withdrawing from any other addictive drug ­ - nausea, chills, shaking and diarrhoea.


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